I am very concerned. I need some help.
I am a divorced mother of 4. I am not financially capable of taking care of my kids at this point in my life (going to school full time and working part time) so they live primarily with their father and step-mother. By and large, I think they are great to the kids. However, my 11 year old daughter told me yesterday that they have implemented a new disciplinary routine. Most of it sounded ok to me (rewards and such) But one aspect of it is that they will not receive dinner if they do not do their chores. I am appalled. This is not an effective teaching method, and never has been. It is just plain cruel and unhealthy, in my opinion. I am going to try to talk with their father today about it, but I need some help from the community here... I need some evidence, research, something to bring to the table. I have found a couple articles online but I think I need something a little more solid.
Thank you in advance for your help.
Just your typical non-theistic, liberal, blended family.
Thank you, Mothering, for the past twelve years of support and community. I look forward to many more.
I think I would talk to the father before getting too upset. Even teenagers sometime misunderstand things.
I guess I would wonder if the chores are reasonable? Can they eat when the chores are done? Are the chores kitchen related? Are snacks a part of their daily routine so the kids shouldn't be starving for supper.
I guess to me there is a world of difference between "after school you have to clean out the garage and if it's not done by 5pm you don't get supper" when this is a huge job, vs "You must unload the dishwasher before the table can be set for supper and we won't eat until it is done".
I have seen several on this board say that it is reasonable to point out to your children that you cannot cook supper until their are clean dishes, or plates to eat on.
I would first listen very openly to what the adults say before deciding whether you need to prove a point at all. We have often had our meal wait until a child caught up a responsibility, like a homeschool task or a chore.
If I have to wait an hour and a half for a child to get started on a twenty minute task and then they quit halfway through and announce that it is lunchtime. Well, no.
There is a lot of toe-dragging in my house. And late meals is a natural consequence in my opinion. In order for a meal to be on the table, I have to do some work. And it's not my job alone with kids this age: The family has to get a few things done to eat, like there have to be clean dishes and clean space to prepare and if that is not happening well dinner isn't either. (Within reason.) I think it is reasonable to expect a pet to be fed before you eat yourself, and for beds to be made before breakfast.
And I have several kids who would dramatize this sort of thing as though I were starving them. If I tell my Aspi son that he can't have lunch until he finishes math, he'll say "but food is a necessity!" in horror although of course it really means lunch at 1PM instead of 12:30. And he is not the only one who'll voice a reason to be horrified about it. Please do not assume the worst of your ex and the stepmom, because they may be being perfectly reasonable. I mean, it shows you care about and respect your children that you would look into this but I would try not to expect an argument. Until you know more, you probably don't need evidence and research at this point.
ME&HE... loving our: dd(18) ~~ds(13) dd(13)~~ dd(10)
This was a RARE consequence for me growing up and it only followed really bad misbehavior. I definitely don't think it is totally awful as a rare punishment, but as a regular punishment it is totally unacceptable. I would be upset too. My mom always "snuck" me a half of a sandwich or something too, because it was my dad who implemented the no food punishment. I still didn't get a full meal.
I will say that with my DD, if she doesn't eat dinner, I don't make two things, so sometimes she just doesn't eat dinner. She gets a small bedtime snack though, every night, so it isn't like she is going to bed hungry.
Hope you get this figured out mama!
Alicewyf: doula, wife to DH, and mama to Lillian (7/09) and Daniel (6/12).