Hard as it is to believe, the kids are home - again. Of course, this time around they're only around for two weeks, not two months. But still - the fiscal damage could still be significant, especially now during the holidays. As parents know, all it takes is one trip to the mall. But here's a way you can protect yourself; teach your kids about "working for a paycheck," a basic concept that it wouldn't hurt kids of any age to learn. Bottom line - if your kids want goodies, let them invest some "sweat equity" into earning it.
Many parents try to pull off something like this by giving their kids an allowance and assigning them chores, but it's hard to keep track of the cause-and-effect aspect of allowance, which lots of kids start to believe they have "coming" to them, regardless. To solve that problem, and to encourage good work habits, the people behind Active Allowance (http://www.activeallowance.com) have developed a Web site chock full of tools that "professionalizes" the allowance concept, making sure kids know the value of a shekel - and you get the kids to do what they're supposed to.
Active Allowance provides worksheets and checklists, and you can assign a cash value to each chore assigned to a kid's account. When the child does the chore, "payment" is automatically assigned to his or her account. When the child wants to make a "major purchase," s/he prints out a "check" and presents it to the parent, who opens his wallet and deducts the money from the kid's personal account.
Parents usually have very definitive opinions about "employing" their kids in this manner - they either love it or hate it. Many parents believe that kids should be trained to do their share in the home regardless of reward - out of respect and obligation to the parents that raised them, among other reasons - but the Active Allowance blog provides plenty of arguments from the other direction, including one from a blogger who only wishes he could turn the clock back and implement Active Allowance's methods on a financially foolish 19 year old.
If you want to give it a try yourself, you can sign up for a free four-week full trial (regular service is $19.95 a year). Who knows? The kids may just meet the challenge.