Seven Benefits of Hiring Your Children
Of course, you remember these milestones and cherish them as a parent. It’s amazing to watch a child grow from a completely helpless infant to a teen or young adult with his own opinions and ways of doing things.
Maybe your child is even old enough and capable enough to help you in your freelancing work. That’s right, how about contracting your child to work for you?
If you’re self-employed or run your own business, at some point you’re likely to receive the advice to hire your own children as a means of getting a tax break.
However, hiring your children has benefits beyond taxes. It’s excellent training for your child, and gives you practical help. Most of all, it can be good for your relationship.
Seven Reasons Your Child Should Work for You
Here are some benefits to hiring your child:
- Tax benefits–The first and most obvious reason to hire your child (usually below 21 years old, or double-check the age covered in your local tax law) is to get tax benefits. The cost of hiring contractors and employees, including your own child, is a tax-deductible business expense. And, since your child is likely to be in a lower tax bracket than you are, that income will be taxed less, if at all. Remember, though, that to enjoy this tax benefit, your child should be doing real work (not playing online games all day) and receive a fair compensation. Consult your accountant to make sure you comply with the laws in your country. These laws include how old your child should be before they can be employed, what type of working conditions they should have and other requirements.
- Your child will develop new skills or master existing ones–There’s nothing like actually doing something “for real” to get really good at it. You’ll want to start by hiring your child to do something he or she already has skills for. For example, my 15-year-old daughter is quite good at editing videos on the Mac. I could pay her to draft-edit videos for me. I’ve also heard of 13-year-olds who can do web programming or create web sites from scratch. Teens nowadays are techno-savvy and yours may be able to do some of the things you would normally hire a virtual assistant for. At the same time, they’ll develop life skills, like getting organized, managing time and resources, interacting with co-workers (you and possibly your clients), among others.
- Your child will gain work experience–The experience of working for pay builds character. Your child will pick up your work ethic, and learn that it pays to have valuable skills and apply them. They’ll learn what it takes exactly to make money, and they may become more appreciative of what you do and how you care for them. This work experience will also be good for your child’s resume, when the time comes to apply for university or a job.
- Increase your child’s confidence–Earning their own money will give your child a sense of accomplishment and independence. It’s good practice for adult life, when they will be responsible for supporting themselves.
- You can evangelize about freelancing–Social norms are skewed in favor of employment. By hiring your children, you have the perfect opportunity to share the advantages of freelancing. They’ll experience firsthand what it’s like to work at home, to have flexible working hours, to earn a living on your own terms.
- Get practical help–Having an extra pair of hands and brain in your home office will lighten your workload. Treat your child as any team member, with clear tasks and accountabilities. And, enjoy the advantages of outsourcing.
- Enhance your parent-child relationship–Imagine, you’ll be spending extra time with your child while you’re getting things done and earning money. What a terrific combination! The experience will help you get to know each other better and practice essential communication skills. Depending on your personality, and the state of your current relationship, things can be difficult at first. For example, your child may not take you seriously enough if he or she considers you more of a friend than a boss. With proper communication and management skills, you’ll work things out.
Ready to Hire?
If you have a working-age child, what tasks can you hire him or her to do? If you already have a child working for you, how has the experience been like for you both? Any tips to make the arrangement go smoothly?
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March 30th, 2010 at 9:32 am
March 30th, 2010 at 9:41 am
@Child – I worked in UNICEF for 14 years and would be the last person on earth to promote child labor. There are certain conditions in which a minor can work legitimately, including: meeting a minimum age requirement (it varies by country), performing light work rather than hard labor, working in a safe environment, and being under the care and supervision of a responsible adult.
Each country has its own laws about child labor, but in general, as long as the child is doing age-appropriate “work,” is safe and not missing school, then it is not considered child labor.
Thanks for asking; it’s a good question and gave me an opportunity to clarify this important issue.
March 30th, 2010 at 11:06 am
This is an interesting strategy that I had not considered before. I agree that we can hire our kids to reduce taxes…
March 30th, 2010 at 11:19 am
I agree 100% with the notion.My dad ran a building contracting business on the side and he always employed us kids to help with the accounting. It meant I aced Accounting at school. My husband has employed my daughter (a film major) to make various videos for him at work – so no tax benefit there – but many of your other ‘benefits’ apply.
And we are about to launch our own online business – and my 14 year is building the forums (yes, he is one of those young guys who can code from scratch and makes a lot of money doing it for other people), and the rest will help us in other capacities.
I know how competent I became doing real work at a young age – and if you think about it, that type of ‘internship’ was how the original settlers of the USA trained up their kids. They taught them how to build, how to farm etc. I just finished reading Little Britches by Ralph Moody to my youngest – it is a great example of this principle as applied about 150 years ago.
March 30th, 2010 at 11:27 am
@Lena – Thanks!
@Meryl – Thank you for sharing your family stories! Sounds like this is a good win-win situation. I hope your examples inspire freelancing parents to hire their children.
And I’m checking out that book :-)
March 30th, 2010 at 11:56 am
I do not yet have children to teach how to program, however I feel it may be an up hill battle with my wife! :) That is not to say that my children will not know the value of hard work and the rewards which it brings. Thanks for the informative article.
March 30th, 2010 at 12:31 pm
Great article!!!, as a children my parents “hired me” and I thank them today A LOT. That time taught me to appreciate work, earning my own money, and the fundamentals of having my own business.
It doesn’t matter if later your children choose a different career, the experience will help them in their professional life.
March 30th, 2010 at 3:24 pm
I agree, it’s great to have capable kids who can help with your work. I find there’s a window of opportunity in which to do this–when your kids are in their early teens. At this point they are old enough to really help, they feel important being useful and they appreciate the extra cash they make.
Once they’re a little older, I think the thrill wears off. They have heavy AP loads at school, sports, social life–and work that pays more than mom’s does.
My youngest son taught himself basic HTML at age 10. At age 13 he coded my first website. Today at 15 he photoshops banners and buttons for me, does basic WordPress design and development–and can troubleshoot many WP problems I encounter. Best of all, he mediates the digital world for me. If he doesn’t know the answer he can find it.
I also call on my teen daughter for professional services. After six years of Latin, she’s and an excellent grammarian and writer. She often proofreads posts for my cooking blog!
March 30th, 2010 at 4:19 pm
I’ve been paying my 16 year old daughter to edit my illustrations, keyword and upload to my online gift shop.
She’s artistic and as the work involved has a creative slant (she can decide on layouts, colours etc and change designs as she sees fit) it suits her well.
She loves seeing the results of her labours being sold online, and of course loves the financial freedom it gives her. If she wants extra for a weekend film, or treat then she asks if she can work a couple of hours.
As long as it doesnt interfere with school work- it’s a win-win situation- and as you say- it means we spend more time together, which is lovely.
March 30th, 2010 at 6:42 pm
Interesting post Lexi!
Personally, I think I’ve passed that window of opportunity–my teens are no longer interested in working for me. Plus, my oldest can make more money working outside the home.
In the right situation, though, I think that this could be a great opportunity.
PugeMarch 31st, 2010 at 1:25 am
My daughter (9) loves playing around with photoshop (editing photos). I think it’ll be the best training ground for her to train. She once helped me with colors on one of my big bank client. Nice article!
AnnaMarch 31st, 2010 at 2:46 am
It’s definitely something parents with older children should consider!
My sisters and I haven’t ever been officially hired by our parents, but when I was growing up my mother and father had a gourmet food business. We’d help by doing things like applying labels or doing some of the dishes. There was a fair we went to annually and my sisters and I would earn our fair ride tickets by folding a few brochures.
Even though we didn’t get official or financial compensation for what we did (and we never did anything close to child labor!) we all picked up some business skills and enjoyed the time with our parents. We knew the work we did (small as it may have been) was important.
The entire experience made business a much more natural concept to me.
Now, I’m in the process of starting up my own freelancing business (hoping to launch in the fall). If my parents hadn’t so openly shared their own experience and business savvy I know I wouldn’t be so sure about wanting to do this, especially at the age of 17. :)
March 31st, 2010 at 5:04 am
First I misread and thought the title was “Seven Benefits of HITTING your Children” :D
NiubiMarch 31st, 2010 at 5:59 am
Some interesting points raised in this article. I agree that it’s an excellent way to prepare children for ‘real life’ outside of school and home, but I feel a bit dodgy about the tax benefits… I would just slowly ease them in and give them pocket money, I suppose. But then again, working as a BA in DubLi, perhaps I have a different approach than most to this?
April 1st, 2010 at 5:39 pm
There is a HUGE difference between “child labor” and what this post is talking about… people please read and try to think about what you just read, don’t just comment the first thing that pops into your head.
For most of us our first employer was our families, wether your grandmother asks you help her arrange her library for 10$ or your dad asks you design his business cards because he knows you have a talent for type.
April 1st, 2010 at 5:53 pm
I wasn’t even thinking about the tax benefits when trying to get my 2 eldest kids to test the waters w/online freelancing.
The oldest, is in college pursuing a music business degree. Though he works hard at an outside job, his passion is composing music. He could easily produce and sell audio clips at places like http://audiojungle.net/ and/or handle some video editing duties.
My middle child, a graduating senior, is a writer and editor-in-chief of the HS newspaper. And yet, getting her to test the waters w/freelance writing is s.l.o.w. going.
Then there’s the baby (a HS sophomore). She’s interested in business and marketing. (Future SEO guru?)
I see the potential here for expanding my design studio into a family business and/or giving them real world experience. The kids? Not so much. I suspect ‘working for mom’ would be too much like doing chores. ;-)
April 1st, 2010 at 7:16 pm
Awesome, Lexi, excellent article. I’ve been looking forward to my kids getting old enough to help for a few of the reasons you mention, and hadn’t even thought about the rest.
December 21st, 2010 at 6:37 pm
Well I don’t have any kids yet but if i do I will be keeping things in mind because I do want them to have a successful future.
February 28th, 2011 at 6:13 am
Practical advice as always, thanks for sharing.
April 9th, 2012 at 7:00 am
What an interesting and informative article. Tax benefits aside, I feel that involving my children in my own small business
Wood Burning Stoves will teach them valuable lessons about business first hand that you just can’t get from school. Our role as parents is to prepare children for independent life and we can’t leave this really important job to teachers at school. Sometimes the best education takes place outside the classroom!
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