I have a question for you. My parents pay me an allowance for doing a couple things around the house. I empty the dishwasher, set the table and walk the dog everyday and I also take the trash out Mondays, Wednesdays, and Sundays. I think that’s a lot especially since I also do a lot of activities after school and I do my homework every night. I make good grades too.

My parents only pay me $20 a week and it’s not enough. A lot of my friends get about $30 to $40 dollars a week and the amount I get is barely enough to go to the movies and buy popcorn and I have to make it last all week.

I want more money. I know my parents are going to say no but it’s not fair. I am 12 so I can’t get a job yet and I really need more money to spend time with my friends. I have been thinking about how to make them understand. What should I do? How do adults ask for more money?

Ryan, Chicago

My Dear Ryan:

Thanks for writing. You must know I am going to respond to this as a parent and from that perspective I’d say you got it pretty good, my friend. I know this might be a hard thing for you to understand but some kids get no allowance at all for the work they do around the house! Now before your head pops off at that prospect, I’m not suggesting that you earn nothing; I actually do give my kids an allowance but they do the same amount of work and earn exactly half of what you do. If your goal is to get more money, you need to be strategic in your approach so here are some ideas.

DON’T WHINE! You’re young so you’re probably unfamiliar with a cartoon called Charlie Brown. He had a teacher who never really spoke; all we heard was “WANH, WANH, WANH….” That’s what it sounds like when our own kids whine to us about not getting whatever it is they’re asking for. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again; it impresses parents so much when you adopt a very mature attitude and ask for things in that way. You need to ask your parents for a meeting (yes, call it that) where you are going to lay out your argument for why you deserve more cash.

IF YOU WANT TO GET MORE, DO MORE: In real, grown up life, a raise in salary (which is how you should think of your allowance) comes with added responsibilities. So during this meeting, hand your folks a piece of paper with a list of the responsibilities you will add in exchange for a higher “salary”. Maybe along with what you already do you could suggest more housework like vacuuming, dusting, maybe even cooking a meal one night a week. Use your imagination and see what you come up with. You might even suggest you’ll do the added work for no additional money initially, like a tryout. Then after a few weeks, you can ask if they’re happy and if they are, then the raise is implemented.

DON’T SAY “BECAUSE EVERYONE ELSE GETS IT”: You want to know the quickest way to a “no”? When you say “Well, Ruth gets this, why shouldn’t I?” Because your parents are not raising Ruth, they are raising Ryan. They really don’t care what’s going on in Ruth’s or anyone else’s house for that matter. They are charged with the enormous task of leading YOU into adulthood. Part of that is preparing you for the way life works. News flash: your parents don’t get a new car or fancy vacation just because their neighbors do; they have to earn the money for it. The same principle applies here. Asking for an increase in allowance because everyone else gets it shows a lack of maturity and understanding on your part, exactly the opposite of what you are trying to prove. Don’t say it.

Ryan, try to look at this from your parent’s point of view before you ask for stuff. They work really hard to provide a great home and life for you. Instead of approaching them with your hand out all the time, try saying thanks, with no strings attached. It will make them feel good about the job they’re doing and help them to see you in a different light. You’d be surprised what might come of that.

Good luck, buddy!

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