You may ask, as do other parents, whether paying boys and girls for jobs in the home may not prove a useful inducement in furthering cooperation.
Actually several problems are contained in this question. One problem deals with jobs that you would not "hire out."
If a boy or girl undertakes a job that falls into this category of home jobs that you would otherwise do yourself and would not pay anyone to do, then he should not be paid to do them. His cooperating remains cooperative only so long as he does such jobs freely and "for free"--in order to participate, not in order to be paid. Paying for cooperation begets not cooperation but a pseudo giving which is not a gift.
On the other hand, if the job is a job that you would in any case be paying someone to do, then it becomes a different matter. If your teen-ager wishes to apply for it, as it were, and if you believe he can efficiently do what is required, he may well be granted a trial.
Says Lester's father, "I've got to look for another yardman. Old Mack gave notice today."
"Could I have a try at it?" Lester asks.
So Father and Lester line up the requirements. What needs to be done, the standards that must be met, and the specified hours when the help is needed in order to continue the supervision Father used to give Mack.
As for rate of pay, "If you do the work efficiently, Lester, I'll pay you, of course, what I paid Mack when he started and what I was counting on paying another man at the start."
"Gee, Dad!" grins Lester. "I'll do my darnedest. That's sure different from Wren's dad. Wren was burnt up. His dad offered him thirty-five cents an hour, but then he took on an outside man and paid him a dollar."
"If you're not worth what I'd pay a good man, I won't keep you on any more than I'd keep on another man if he did a sloppy job."
"Yes, Dad, that's fair!"
By the same token, if he wishes to discontinue the job, he must be free to quit with proper notice, just as another employee would be.
"I've enjoyed baby-sitting, Mother, and the money I've earned has been useful. But now that I'm going steady with Bob, I'd like to resign."
"Can you stick it out, dear, till I can find someone else?"
"But of course."
If your youngster took a clerk's job in a store, a packer's job in a delivery room, a loading job on a truck, the same conditions would prevail. He is no longer a child pretending that he has earned the money his father gives him and fantasying that five cents is as big as a dollar or more. The matter of earning money now is more down to earth to him, more practical and real. He, himself, is now earning money as himself, not as an imitated or "play" daddy or mother. His worth and identity should therefore be maintained wherever possible by whoever employs him. For these are values he is striving as an adolescent to attain.
Occasionally circumstances arise where it is not possible to pay the prevailing wage rate but where you want if possible to obtain help at a lesser cost.
Paul's father, for instance, wanted the floor painted, but did not have the time to do it himself. So he asked his boy if he would do it for him. He told him he wanted to pay something but couldn't go high enough to take on a regular worker. Quite frankly he told Paul what he could afford to pay, and quite frankly Paul decided whether he could afford to take on the job.
This was quite different from what Wren's father had done. Wren's father had offered Wren less simply because he was offering it to a son rather than to an outside man, as if Wren's services were worth less. Paul's father, however, made it quite clear that his son's services were worth as much as he could pay anyone. Wren's father devalued, whereas Paul's valued fully what his boy did.