Why I’m Making my Son Pay for his Braces.
I don’t know how Mom did it all when we were growing up. Kids are expensive, especially girls, and there were 3 of us! My sisters both got braces- since my teeth were, “the best”, I had to wait until I was an adult to fix my teeth. I can totally relate to Mom though. I have two kids and my daughter’s teeth look good. I mean like, we're getting paid this Friday good. There’s no way I’m putting braces on her anytime soon.
As my sister’s and I got older though, I noticed something. My teeth looked better than theirs- I didn’t even get braces as an adult. How could this be? Totally not hating on my sisters, they’re great, but a couple of their teeth have turned and they both don’t seem phased. Now, there is a variable here. My sisters & I have completely different personalities and I absolutely think that plays a part here, so take this advice with a grain of salt.
So this epiphany, of having my son pay for his braces, just hit me one day. My kids have always been messy in the car (what kids aren’t). It doesn’t matter what it is: water (how can you be messy with water?), chips, and sunflower seeds- the list could go on. I’d had enough. I bought a ShopVac and told them every 2 weeks one of them would vacuum out the car and the other would dust it. They were thrilled, of course, but I started to notice a small transformation. When they were expected to own it, they were A LOT more careful when eating/drinking in the car!
My daughter: “Anton! Don’t be a piggy; we’re going to have to vacuum it out! That’s not how you keep nice things nice.”
Yesssssssss. Eureka! Could this work with other things? I think so. Braces, possibly being one- that’s why my son will pay for his.
Don’t worry; I’m not a slave driver. Braces are insanely expensive. I know what you’re thinking, “surely she’s not going to make him pay for all of it? That poor little boy will be breaking open his piggy bank”. Aw, cute. No. I’m not, it will be comparative to what he makes. He earns an allowance for his chores around the house, so his part of the braces will most likely be about $5/month. Yes, I'm going to hold him to it. He’ll have the cash in hand and walk up to the counter and have to pay the ladies himself. Bam. Planting the seeds.
I know what you may be thinking, “Keri, this is an awful lot of work to just have him be paying $5 month. Is this really going to work?” I really think it will.
I’m rational- I know it’s not going to make him the #1 most responsible kid of the year, but it is slowly teaching life skills that he’ll need. Teaching kids responsibility, money management, ownership, & accountability early is really important. Of course you have to make sure it’s age appropriate- not too early and certainly not too late, with the right amount of pressure. Hmm, very similar to how diamonds are formed, interesting.
I tell my kids all the time, “that’s not how you keep nice things nice”, “I make you do chores because I love you and want you to be amazing people”, and “these are life skills you will need when you _______”, just go ahead and insert the adult situation there.
Does continually saying this get old? Yes. Does it take a MASSIVE amount of consistency and patience? Yes. Is it our jobs to mold our kids into the best, most successful and value driven adults that we can? Yes.
It’s not our job to baby them... until they’re 25. You're not helping them, you're hurting them. It’s not our job to be their best friends. It’s not our jobs to make them like us all the time. It’s our job to be parents and all of us, with children, know how much effort it takes.
So let them start making dinner one night. Let them start being responsible for answering the phone (my kids still have not mastered this). Let them start doing their laundry. Will it be perfect? Absolutely not, but I would trade a fumbling 11 & 12 year old, instead of a fumbling 18 year old, any day. :)
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