iVillage Member
Registered: 10-06-2003
Wed, 10-08-2003 - 1:04pm

I would like to ask another question, because I got such a wonderful advice to my previous post on this board.

Last night my husband and I had some disagreement regarding giving sd house chores to do. Right now all my sd does to help around the house is unloading the dishwasher once a week. (She is fourteen years old.) Even when my husband and I are busy cleaning the house, she just watches TV and does nothing, and my husband does not bother to ask her to do anything. I understand why my husband does not want to bother in this area. First, asking sd to help around the house takes a lot of work, because asking itself will create a tension, and then we will have to supervise to make sure that it is done properly. Second, my husband says that we should choose our battles. My sd has a lot of behavioral problem. (Most recent one was her sneaking out at night, as I posted two days ago.) So having her bad behavior under control is our priority. My husband argues that it is already a constant battle and he does not think we can successfully win the two battles, while my argument was that giving sd chores is part of parenting and parenting takes work, so we should deal with it.

Even though I said that to my husband, I am not sure if I was right. You know, if we decide to make sd do the chores, we may create more problems, which we could have avoided.

So what do you guys think? Do you think there is a way to combine these two issues and deal with them together---sd¡¯s behavioral problem and getting her more involved with house chores? Or do you think it is too much?

Thank you in advance.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-14-2003
In reply to: antonstep
Wed, 10-08-2003 - 1:19pm

Here is something perhaps your husband needs to keep in the back of his mind in regards to his daughter. . .

She knows the game and she knows how to play it with him or shall we say 'play him'.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
In reply to: antonstep
Wed, 10-08-2003 - 2:50pm
I agree with Deb! Not giving chores "sells a child short." IMO giving chores makes the kid part of the team...shows you value their input and that you trust them. That being said since it hasn't been something you've required from day one, I think it may backfire if you use the wrong approach. Not knowing the particular family dynamics here it's hard to comment on what that approach should be, but it seems very obvious who's in control here and it's not the adults.
Avatar for arwen12
iVillage Member
Registered: 04-11-2003
In reply to: antonstep
Wed, 10-08-2003 - 3:01pm
I absolutely agree with giving chores - even as SD.

My 14 yo DD empties the dishwasher, takes out the trash and the recyclables, cleans her room 1x week, mops the kitchen floor 1x week and earns extra money for doing laundry (because she is saving for a big project). Yes, she needs reminding almost constantly. And, my husband and I help her out sometimes if things are heavy, but this is her list.

Oh, and because she didn't want to work on the lawn with us anymore, she opted for making dinner. So, she makes dinner once a week - usually something simple like turkey burgers.

My 8 yo SD comes over every other weekend and every Sunday she is responsible for cleaning her room, dusting the floor and she walks around the house with the feather duster and cleans the dust off the top of the radiators. (btw - she chose, this, she loves it because she loves the colorful feather duster.

And, on top of that, she has to clean up after herself and she helps her stepsister as needed with the dishes or cleaning her room and they have fun sharing that activity.

Yes, they complain, too - more often than not. But, they both have a sense of ownership of the house and responsibility.

Yes, they both get an allowance, but it is not tied to chores. If they don't do their chores, they could lose any privilege - which may or may not include allowance.

That's our house!

It may sound like we're slave drivers, but it actually works out!

Good luck!

Avatar for heartsandroses2002
iVillage Member
Registered: 03-26-2003
In reply to: antonstep
Wed, 10-08-2003 - 3:22pm
I have two dd's, almost 14 and almost 16 - they are responsible for MANY chores around the house and garden. I think that chores help develop so many areas of a person's character. It helps teach them responsibility, teamwork (IMO, a family IS a team), gives them a feeling of accomplishment and capability.

Even if she does a crappy job, you can gently teach her to do it better next time. My 16 y.o FINALLY can vacuum well - Here's a list of the chores at our house that are split between them (they can switch off and on if they want, it's up to them, and each one even has thier favorite chore!) These are not everyday or even every week, but on an ongoing basis we're all responsible for getting them done:

Dust entire house, scrub bathroom sink and tub (I do the toilet), walk the dogs, bathe the dogs, empty and load dishwasher, separate laundry, load laundry into washer and dryer, fold laundry, match socks, put away clothes, clean out closets, make grocery list, help with food shopping, unload gorceries, put away groceries, help prepare dinner, make dinner, set table, clear table, make desserts, bake, help with Fall raking, help weed the gardens, clean car (inside and out), vaccuum and mop floors, help plant flowers, help build gardens, help paint thier bedrooms and the living room, help wallpaper kitchen - and I'm probably forgetting some of them!

I'm not saying to make your sd into Cinderella, but there's really no reason why she can't be chipping in with the housework, earning her keep and privileges while earning your respect. I think that by letting her off the hook, you're asking for trouble later. She won't know how to take care of herself EVER if someone is always doing it for her. Plus your H must realize that confrontations comes with the job of good parenting! Constantly walking on eggshells around his DD is not doing her any good and she's learning to run your house!! Insist that she be given regular chores that are befitting her age and skill. My youngest dd has neurobiological disorders and getting her to do chores is like pulling teeth. But until she finishes her chores, she has NO privileges - that's a consequence that ALL kids understand. Stick to your guns, mom.

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-07-2003
In reply to: antonstep
Wed, 10-08-2003 - 7:45pm
As much as they complain (and don't we also complain about our chores but do them anyway?), it's so important for all members of the family to chip in with chores around the house. I would venture to guess that she may even feel guilty or worthless when she sees you doing chores and she's allowed to sit there and watch TV (even if she doesn't show it). Since you've not required her to do anything, you'll probably need to start gently and slowly, adding to her list as time goes on. It really is a source of pride and accomplishment for teens to do stuff around the house. Don't you hate doing a chore but feel so good when it's done and it is for a good reason? Please don't rob this teen any longer of this! (Sometimes when our teens start to complain too much about chores, we tell them we'll add a chore for every complaint we hear.)

You might even find with your SD having some responsibility, that her behavioral problems lessen -- MIGHT. It's worth a try. Another thing to remember is that even when they have problems, they are still part of the family and still need to take care of their responsibilities (just like you and me). So this is good "life training," so to speak. You might even want to sit down and discuss this with her, make a list of things that you need help with, and ask her which 2 chores (or whatever number) she would like to take over, thus giving her some power in this decision. If she acts indignant, then choose for her!

iVillage Member
Registered: 10-16-1999
In reply to: antonstep
Sat, 10-11-2003 - 10:16am
Good reply blufan!

We tell our teens that as long as you're living in this household, you're expected to contribute to it's upkeep. We have 4 kids, 12-19, and all do help around the house when asked, but only the two older boys will pick up and do without being asked on accasionally. I've had to re-adjust my view of what they're doing to contribute though. For a long time I saw it as just cleaning up the house, but I've changed that vision a lot. I hate to cook, and DD loves it, so I don't mind doing the cleaning if she cooks. My 2 19 y/o boys are really into working on cars - and none of our vehicles have been in a garage for routine maintenance or minor repairs for almost 3 years, but they only occasionally do something like cook, dishes, or vaccuum, though they do most of their own laundry and clean their room. My 16 y/o DS loves yard work but can't stand vaccuuming, mopping or dusting, so he's in charge of the lawn, flowerbeds, shoveling snow, pruning tress and shrubs and such - and other than keeping his own room clean, only occasionally washes the dishes. But my point is, they're all doing SOMETHING to contribute to life around here...even though they do need to be reminded most of the time. Maybe if heartsandroses2002 would find *something* that DSD would like to help with, it would be a start. I often ask my kids to help me with part of a job, as in, if I do the dusting and pick up the living room, would you vaccuum? My DD often asks if there's anything she can do to help when I'm in the midst of a job, just cause she wants to hang out with mom, but if I were to ask her to do the same job on her own, she'd grumble.