Here is what’s wrong with making a 5-year-old pay rent
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You never know what can go viral these days.

One of the latest posts is from a Georgia mother who claims she makes her 5-year-old daughter pay rent.

Essence Evans said her strategy, which she posted about on Facebook on Jan. 14, will prepare her child for the real world, that it will give her an appreciation for living at home at such a huge “discount.” What happens is, Evans gives her daughter $7 each week. From that, she deducts $1 each for rent, water, electricity, cable and food. The remaining $2 goes to savings. But wait! Evans is actually taking the $5 and putting it away for her child, so that if she moves out at 18, she’ll have about $3,400 “to start off.” Her method has received both praise and criticism.

My take: this is not a good idea.

What I can appreciate is that Evans is teaching her child financial responsibility early and tucking away funds for her. However, what this child may wind up learning from paying rent at 5-years old is how to become a slave to the dollar, while having moments of her childhood stripped away for adult lessons.

What young child deserves the burden of thinking about bill payments? That is absurd. Why introduce her to real-world concepts in this way when she’s only 5-years old. What’s worse: people are rallying behind this idea, expressing how badly they want to implement it into their own lives.

Setting these kind of financial expectations for a kid is not fair; there are other ways. Encourage children to, perhaps, invest their allowance. Say for every dollar they put into their piggy bank, you give them .25 cents. Set financial goals. Say they want to buy a new shirt, tell them to put away a couple bucks — paying themselves first — from each allowance until they reach the number. Hell, deduct “taxes” that go into a fund.

Evans’ reasoning also sets what can easily become negative expectations for an impressionable mind. She said she told her child most people spend the majority of their paychecks on bills, leaving little left for themselves. This is absolutely true. Most people live paycheck-to-paycheck. Seventy-eight percent of full-time workers do, and even people who make six figures can struggle financially. Still, it isn’t a good reason to make your 5-year-old pay rent. It’s better to teach your children to strive for better than paycheck-to-paycheck living.

Evans’ post struck a nerve with me because of its potential to rob a young, black child of their childhood. Many black and brown youth miss moments connecting with their peers because they have to get jobs to help the family. I’m not in the slightest suggesting this is Evans’ and her child’s story, but children deserve to enjoy their childhood. Too often that gets curtailed by true real-world problems.

I get it: we want what’s best for our children. We do the best we can to teach our children values. But there’s a time for such moments.

Nothing’s free. But why does a 5-year-old need to experience that?

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