Why Bribing Your Kid Is A Good Idea

So, I received some mockery from friends and family for paying my 11-year-old daughter to go fishing with me. Truth is, I’ve bribed her on several occasions, and I’ve never regretted it. It’s pretty genius if you ask me. Here’s why.

The standard objection to bribing your kids goes something like this, “that’s a dangerous precedent. She will expect to get paid for everything” sounds reasonable, doesn’t it?

It’s also wrong!

I ask you, what’s the alternative? I could go fishing without her, or I could force her to go. None of which gets me any closer to my goal, which is to spend quality time with my daughter.

None of those alternatives gets me that outcome. If I force her, she’ll hate every minute of our trip, no question. Nobody likes being forced. I’ve lost before we even get in the boat.

By offering her something of relatively little value to me, a few bucks, I get something of great value in return. Time with her.

Since she’s only eleven, she hasn’t learned to value time. She has however learned to value money, but she’s not so well versed on the absolute value of her monies, so I usually get away pretty cheap. She wants to buy some Roblox or an ice cream at the mall on Saturday.

This is what is referred to as trading items of unequal value. I do suspect here prices will rise in time though.

But what am I teaching her with this apparently insane practice?

  • I’m telling her that her time is valuable, and she shouldn’t give it away just to please others.
  • I’m showing her that her father values her presence enough to sacrifice something for it.
  • I’m empowering her to say no when the offer isn’t good enough.
  • I’m teaching her that the world is full of people with different interests and motivations, and good deals can be made if you understand that. It doesn’t have to be money related. People value things differently.

All of these things are pretty real world if you ask me, and that is the world she will have to navigate alone in a few years. Learning to negotiate is learning people skills.

You could argue that bribing your kids is the responsible thing to do.

And the fishing? We had a blast. Talking and laughing while trying to lure a salmon or trout with the wobbler. And even though we didn’t catch anything, she wanted to go again the next day. Free of charge.

It appears that, when she gets to choose, when she has some influence, she is happier about the outcome. Who woulda thunk it?



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Tom C Aune

Tom C Aune

Free Thoughts, Free Weights and Free Cash Flow