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My 8-year old daughter recently became interested in trading cards. She came home from school several days with the sob story that everyone has them and is trading them but her. She did manage to get a few free, which I thought was very savvy of her. Anyway, like a “good” mom, I ordered her a set of 100 cards.

Several things then happened that snapped me back into PARENT mode. The meltdowns, jaw-dropping back talk, and look of a spoiled child took me by complete surprise. The trading cards quickly became mine. All 100 of them. They were going to now be earned.

This brought normalcy back to my child. The meltdowns stopped and the back-talk was gone. She became the well-mannered daughter that I’m proud to be the parent of. Then, a new issue surfaced. I quickly realized that my 8-year old had no idea how to earn the cards. She was asking to be rewarded for things she’s expected to do anyway.

“Mom, I was respectful at school today.”

“Mom, I was good on the school bus.”

“Mom, I picked up my room… do I get cards?”

As a child, I never received an allowance. The whole idea of an allowance still boggles me. Sure, I had “chores” to do around the house, but I did them because I was part of a family and expected to contribute my share. There was never a time when I asked my parents for a reward because I did the dishes, mowed the grass, or cleaned my room. A “thank-you” was enough.

So here I am with an 8-year old who doesn’t know how to work for anything and she’s completely innocent. A large part of this problem is that I’m not sure what she can do to earn them either. What can she do, that isn’t already expected of her, to earn (God, forgive me) an “allowance” of trading cards?

Seriously, I am stumped.

I don’t want to just give them to her. I also don’t want to reward her for behaving the way she is expected to. Yes, my expectations of her are high. I won’t apologize that I expect my 8-year old child to do what I ask. Not because she’s going to be rewarded with cards, but because I asked her to do something. She is part of this family and is expected to contribute.

So… I have found myself in turmoil.

Will my daughter have a good work ethic because she has parents that model a good work ethic? Or, will having parents that model a good work ethic show my daughter that she can be handed all the cards?

Until the fog clears, I will follow my gut and trust that we will find our way, together.