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Ask Dr. Mary

Does an Allowance Make Sense

Although we don't give our 9-year-old an allowance, he says all his friends get one. How should we handle this? Should we pay him for doing his chores? How much is a fair amount for a 9-year-old?

There is no single "right" way to handle an allowance. If you feel it's ridiculous to pay your child for household chores, then it doesn't matter if his friends get money from their parents. Tell your son that giving an allowance just isn't something your family does.
But if you feel an allowance will help your son learn principles of money management?saving, spending and giving?then you should initiate a regular allowance. Zillions magazine recently surveyed 784 kids nationwide. Slightly less than half of the 9-to- 14-year-olds surveyed receive an allowance. Kids your son's age earn an average of $3.50 a week, a 50-cent increase over a similar survey done two years earlier.
Think of an allowance under the bigger umbrella of teaching your child money management, time management and his role in making a contribution to your family's welfare. If you're willing to take the time and effort to make an allowance a method of teaching your child these valuable lessons, then talk to your son about his expectations. Find out what he wants to do with the money he'd receive, then work together to set up a plan you can all agree to.

The Circumcision Decision

Recently I've seen articles referring to circumcision as "abusive, barbaric, torture and mutilation." Both my young boys are circumcised. Help me understand what's going on and how to talk to my boys about it.

Do you remember the reasons you chose circumcision? Recalling that information might be helpful. Historically, circumcision was a religious ceremony conducted on Hebrew males eight days after birth. Scripture says both John the Baptist and Jesus were circumcised (Luke 1:59, 2:21). Circumcision was viewed as an act of initiation, a symbol of purification and a measure to aid in proper hygiene. Like most aspects of life, medical practices and procedures change against the backdrop of emerging culture. Today we have a better understanding of early infancy, including pain tolerance. That's why there is some new debate over circumcision. Yet each generation of parents has the same task: to parent as wisely as possible with what we know. If your sons ask about circumcision, you might borrow the answer we gave our son: we did what seemed best at the time. Beyond that, I really can't make a recommendation. Parenting often requires us to make judgment calls when there is no clear right or wrong. You must remember that you made the best call you could and then go on.

Troubled Teen

I've had custody of my daughter since I was divorced. Now she's 13 and suddenly has decided she wants to live with her dad. A friend of mine, another single mom, had a similar situation with her son when he became a teenager. Why would this happen?

Independence is a primary concern of teenagers. They naturally gravitate toward what's out of a parent's normal range of control. Some teens feel trapped, even if they have a great home life. Looking at the issue from this perspective, you can see why your daughter might want to live with her father. It would be a new situation and that's appealing to a teenager.
Occasionally, a teen sees the other parent as a rescuer from a school situation or boy/girl problem, even if there's been an excellent relationship with the custodial parent. This isn't a simple or clear-cut issue. Whether or not your teen moves depends on legalities, the kind of home situation to which she will be moving, and what will work for all parties. Consult legal and counseling professionals for guidance and direction.

Mary Manz Simon, Ed. D., hosts the nationally syndicated program "Front Porch Parenting." She is the author of numerous books, including What Did Jesus Do? (Tommy Nelson).

Have a question for Dr. Mary?
Send it to: "Ask Dr. Mary", Christian Parenting Today,
465 Gundersen Drive, Carol Stream, IL 60188
Fax: (630) 260-0114, E-mail:cpt@christianparenting.net

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