Reasonable Expectations - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 19 Old 04-08-2012, 07:54 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Sigh....  Where to start?

 

I feel like my struggle with parenting has to do with finding a balance between what I expect my child to be able to do and what he/she is willing or actually able to do.  I'm concerned that I may be asking him to do something he truly is not able.  But at the same time I don't want him to play me because he just doesn't want to do something, kwim? 

 

Specifically I am thinking about helping around the house.  Should an 11 year old be able to clear the table, load the dishwasher, wipe counters down?  Not every meal but maybe 4 meals a week?  He has no trouble emptying the dishwasher or setting the table but once gross plates, silverware, etc are involved he "can't".  When did your kids start actually washing dishes by hand?  Things like pans, blenders, etc that don't go in the dishwasher.  At what age could your child sweep the floor, wipe counters, etc without you needing to redo it all.

 

He currently is able to- fold and put away napkins, bring wood into the house, bring wood from the large pile to the one closer to the house, feed/water the chickens (although this is a fight), set/clear table, empty dishwasher.  He is responsible for his pet mice and does a pretty good job at that without reminders.  He struggles with- bringing his lunch bag to the kitchen after school,  loading the dishwasher, sweeping wood/marble floors, wiping counters or tables. 

 

Thanks for sharing with me your kids' ages and what they are currently able to do.  I don't want to insitute a set schedule because if he has friends to play with or a lot of extra homework I'd rather he be able to do that but when he has extra free time and I just ask for his help it  becomes a fight.


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#2 of 19 Old 04-08-2012, 09:19 AM
 
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Of course he's CAPABLE of washing the dishes. Remember little kids used to work in factories. My mom started working as a field hand at 6 and my dad driving a tractor and farming at 12. I'm not saying we should go back to that by any means... only that kids are far more capable than we remember sometimes.

 

My own kids 15 and 11 are actually good at dishes (including pots and pans) but they are terrible at other things like sweeping the floor and cleaning the bathrooms. My 15-year-old can't seem to clean her room to save her life (and she has to keep it reasonably clean because her room has the only downstairs emergency exit.) It's a motivation thing really. They are good at the chores they don't mind so much and terrible at the ones they hate.

 

It's a rare kid who does ALL their chores happily and well. I'd give positive reinforcement for the ones he's doing well and give him lessons, reminders and have him redo the chores he's doing poorly.


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#3 of 19 Old 04-08-2012, 09:22 AM
 
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I don't think that there was never a time when my children didn't have chores.  Ok, when they were babies, they weren't capable of doing anything.  But from the time they could walk and reasonably follow directions, around 1 year, they were putting toys away--one toy at a time.  Folding socks was a game, not a chore.  We just kept adding things as they were capable of doing them.  And, yes, I had to "nag" them to do them.  With the girls we had a schedule of daily chores as they were rotated among them.  With Dylan, I just told him (and made a written list for him to check off) what I wanted him to do that day and when.  Some things he can decide when to do them.  Others need to be done at a specific time so I can do mine.  I'll ask him to put the clean dishes away so I can wash the dirty ones; pick up the living room or yard so dh can vacuum or mow.  A lot of his chores are put in the context of our doing ours.  Or in the context of he wants clean clothes or ironed shirts, he needs to do his part in achieving that.

 

At age 14, Dylan is just now beginning to do chores without a lot of reminding.  He is expected to take care of his own dishes, do his own laundry and put it away (I'll iron his dress shirts IF he puts them in the sewing room), feed and water the dog, take the trash and recycle out, take the containers to the curb on trash day (and bring in the empty ones the next day), take care of his room, wash dishes, put clean ones away (we don't have a dishwasher; dishes are all washed by hand.  He is not expected to wash the cast iron--that's my job), make his own breakfast and lunch (unless he is having the same thing I am, then I'll make enough for both of us), clean his bathroom (also used as the guest bathroom), and, in general, help maintain the house and yard.  He has recently taken over a lot of the yard work and gardening at his request. 

 

We view household chores as part of family life and everyone does them, regardless of what else they do--work out of the home, work at home, go to school or home school.


Chris--extended breastfeeding, cloth diapering, babywearing, co-sleeping, APing, CLW, homeschooling before any of this was a trend mom to Joy (1/78), Erica (8/80), Angela (9/84), Dylan (2/98)
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#4 of 19 Old 04-08-2012, 12:58 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mumm View Post
 I don't want to insitute a set schedule because if he has friends to play with or a lot of extra homework I'd rather he be able to do that but when he has extra free time and I just ask for his help it  becomes a fight.


I think this is the problem. My kids have set chores to do every day that take about 20 minutes. Having friends is not an excuse, and unless it is something REALLY unusual, I think kids can do chores and homework.  Normally they do them when they first get home, but the time can slide if they have something else on.

 

I've been really clear with my kids about how long their list should take, and that if it takes longer than that when they are really working, then we can negotiate. Because of this, they don't doddle. They just do it.

 

Write it down. Put it on the fridge. Stop making excuses for him. It's far easier to get children in the habit of doing what they need to do than to randomly decide each day what is reasonable and then negotiate with them. It needs to be their responsibility. They thrive on clarity. 


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#5 of 19 Old 04-08-2012, 04:10 PM
 
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I actually think he has an OK start for age 11 in that he's he's bringing in the wood (if wood is your primary heat like us, that can be a sizable chore),feeding chickens and the dishwasher emptying.  You can probably bring it up from here without much trouble.  I think on top of a good schedule on the fridge (our household uses Linda's suggestion, too), be specific as to what needs to be done and what a good job looks like.  I used to have trouble with my kids doing counter tops and sweeping, and then I realized I hadn't been specific.  I said "Do dishes and clean up kitchen".  Once I defined clean up kitchen, it went better.

 

As to where we're at with chores:  We all work on wood when it arrives and the 11 year old mostly does the upkeep in between.  Whoever gets up first feeds the dog and cat before they do anything else.  If I work outside of the house that morning, the 11 and 10 year old help make breakfast, check the 7 year old has everything organized, pack lunches and get everyone to the school bus on time.  On the days I'm home they still help pack lunches. They also top up chicken feed and water and let chickens out when they get home.  They (all three kids)have to walk the dog daily.  Bedroom has to be cleaned once a week (it's their room, so I just look for basic hygiene).  Clothes have to be put in the wash daily and clean clothes put away.  Beds made  Living room gets cleaned (all of them together) about three times a week.  I do the kitchen during the school year for the most part ( no dishwasher and I like cleaning during their homework time to be available.  They have a summer dish schedule.  I possibly require less cleaning than some parents with kids this age, but my older kids reliably watch their brother for up to two hours when arriving home on days I'm working, help me at farmer's market and both ran their own businesses last summer (my 10year old took over the chickens, barn cleaning, eggs, customers and all and the 11 year old kept up baking business second year running.  They pitched in half their sports costs this year and both have money in the savings accounts) so I feel they make up for it in other ways.  Every family has their own balance and expectations. 

 

I think when you look at expectations, you have to consider what you actually need done (like no make work projects) and what things you value more and then follow through with a specific action plan.  Allow for something fun or relaxing to do after chores because everybody, including adults, likes this.


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#6 of 19 Old 04-08-2012, 05:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think the lack of schedule is part of the problem.  That will be my first step.   I don't want to set up a plan that I can't follow though with.
 

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I actually think he has an OK start for age 11 in that he's he's bringing in the wood (if wood is your primary heat like us, that can be a sizable chore),feeding chickens and the dishwasher emptying.  You can probably bring it up from here without much trouble.

 

 

I think when you look at expectations, you have to consider what you actually need done (like no make work projects) and what things you value more and then follow through with a specific action plan.  Allow for something fun or relaxing to do after chores because everybody, including adults, likes this.



Wood is not our primary heat source but supplemental.  And the amount he does is token.  I have the primary responsibility for splitting, stacking, moving closer to the house and then in the house.  We rarely have more than 20 chickens at a time and he does very little in terms of actual care.  Maybe feed and water once a week.  It already feels like so much work.  (to get him to actually do it, not that he is doing so much work.)

 

As far as relaxing time after chores- I'm ready to kill him by the time things are actually done and we want nothing more than to go our separate ways to cool off. 


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#7 of 19 Old 04-09-2012, 03:35 PM
 
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My kids have what most people would consider a lot of chores. 

 

Ds is 11:

Full responsibility for the dog, walking, feeding, playing, cleaning up after, etc. 

Laundry-helps with and sometimes does it all, sort, wash, dry, fold and put away

Dishes-empties the dishwasher, will clean up after dinner including putting away food, wiping counters and washing things that don't go in the dishwasher

Food-he cooks about one meal a week with minimal coaching

Room-keeps his room relatively clean, not great, but good enough

Bathroom-cleans the bathroom occasionally, cleans the bathroom floor as needed (I refuse :) ) 

Sports-responsible for his sports equipment and laundry

 

A lot of his chores started when I was ill and dh was living out of town. Things had to be done and he was the only one available to do them.  His chores vary on many things, my health, his schedule and life in general.  I'm not going to keep him from going out to play because the bathroom floor needs to be washed, but he is responsible for the things I ask him to do.  Sometimes he does more, sometimes less.  I was recently out of town for an emergency and dh had to work and it was wonderful to know that my 11 year old was fully capable of getting off the bus, taking care of the dog, making him and his sister something to eat and handling the house until dh was able to get home.  

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#8 of 19 Old 04-09-2012, 07:39 PM
 
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I think the lack of schedule is part of the problem.  That will be my first step.   I don't want to set up a plan that I can't follow though with.
 

 

 

As far as relaxing time after chores- I'm ready to kill him by the time things are actually done and we want nothing more than to go our separate ways to cool off. 



I think if you're feeling ready to kill him by the time the chores are done, you need to look at making sure he knows there are consequences for not having the chores done in a polite and timely manner.  The schedule and clear expectations will help, but if you are having to nag him through it all you need a little more.

 

One thing we found helped was (posted on the fridge like the chore list) an expectation that no screen time (computers, tv's, handhelds, you name it) would be allowed until the chore list was complete, homework and studying done, and anything where someone else was depending on you was done (volunteering and sports are in this category for our family). If the chores are done in a rude manner there is also no screen time allowed. This served a dual purpose in that the consequence of not doing chores is no screen time (substitute whatever works in your house as a privilege) but finishing the chores also has an inherent reward in that having chores done means you get to have screen time (or whatever).  There's incentive to do the chores without being contrived about coming up with consequences and rewards.  It's pretty logical.  As adults, if we want to have adequate income to live well and we want our homes and families comfortable, we work first and relax later.

 

You can also look at allowing suffering natural consequences of some chores not being done.  I've not done laundry because if they don't bring it to me I don't wash it.  If they don't pack their things, I don't run them to the school.  You have to make it clear that not following through on the chores isn't an option. 


Busy keeping up with three children and an awful lot of chickens!

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#9 of 19 Old 04-09-2012, 08:25 PM
 
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My 16 yo DSD is responsible for kitchen cleanup every night.  For a long time, it was just loading and unloading the dishwasher, but at 16, I thought she was capable of doing more.  She does not do other chores, b/c she has a full course load in school and is at taekwondo 5 nights a week.  Her room is a horrific travesty, but we shut the door and ignore it winky.gif

 

For a long time, this whole process invoked drama and everyone being mad.  She had an attitude whenever she was reminded of anything, and I got way too upset over her not doing it correctly. 

 

I know 16 is way different than 11, but here is what helped us-

 

I wrote a step by step of what I expected her to do. (load dishwasher, clean stove, wipe down counters, pick up silverware etc that falls on the floor, scrub sink out, put away leftovers etc etc).I was specific for each step and really broke it down. 

 

She has until she goes to bed to do this. 

 

If she does not do the chore, or skips multiple steps (aka half-asses it), she loses $1 off of her weekly allowance.  Her allowance is small, so $1 makes a difference.  There is no big confrontation or discussion.  I or DH write -$1 on the calendar and if she is interested or she misses the same thing over and over, we mention it.  That's all. It's her decision what she does from there. 

 

HTH

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#10 of 19 Old 04-10-2012, 12:29 AM
 
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My son is 11, I WOH (part time at best) but he needs to do 'things' around the house.

Here is a general run down of what is expected of him

1. Laundry- he is responsible for ALL his laundry. I will do our towels and his swim stuff (I do a load of towels every night since they get stinky if they sit around).  He needs to wash, dry, fold and put away his laundry. Its not my problem if he does not have clothes.  He's been doing all his own laundry for at least 2-3 years, this includes bedding.

2. Floors- swiffer the floors 1x a week

3. Bathroom - sink, countertop, spray the shower etc 1x a week (we only have 1 bathroom here)

4. Prepare his own breakfast and lunch (days I have work)

5. Bring in the vaccum when asked (we have storage on the patio). I will vacuum.

6. When we were living with the dog he was FULLY responsible for the dog - feeding, water, walking, cleaning.

7. Make sure his homeschool work is done by Friday.  I will check and put out a new schedule for Monday morning.  He is self sufficient on school work!

8. Swim team 3x a week, be ready to go with all his 'stuff'

9. Keep the house generally clean.  Pick up the toys, LEGO'S etc.

 

I don't have a list for him. DS just knows what is expected and what needs to be done.


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#11 of 19 Old 04-10-2012, 02:27 PM
 
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Yes, it is a reasonable expectation. But that doesn't mean he will see it that way.

 

I have two girls, 11 and 14, and clearing the table and loading/unloading the dishwasher has been their "job" for the last two years. Yet, somehow, every night when it's time to do it, the complaining begins. We have told them that once they have mastered this task, they can do something else, but two years later, they still can't do it without complaining or fighting. So they still have to do it. My partner and I can do this job in 10 minutes, but it takes them up to an hour sometimes because they can't work together. We gave them this task to get them to learn to work together. There is no reason they can't do it. They have weekly chores, like cleaning out the bunny's cage or doing a load of laundry, which they can do fine. It is just the dishes. Everyone hates to do them. But everyone has to do them sometime or another. We gave them the option of making dinner a couple nights a week instead of doing the dishes (which they are expected to do 3-4 nights a week), but that quickly turned into a debacle so we nixed that idea.You would think a 14 year old could make a basic salad without help, but apparently not. Now, it's no TV until the kitchen is done, and that motivates them to get it done a little faster with less fighting. I always swore I would never let my kids watch TV but that's the only thing that motivates them -_-


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#12 of 19 Old 04-11-2012, 11:54 PM
 
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I have 2 kids: 14 & 16.  Job chart w/ housework posted on the kitchen wall.

 

Get home from school, the kids will do the following (switching off)

* vacuum

* clear breakfast dishes from drying rack

* sometimes a bit of meal prep (wash & soak rice; clean veggies, etc.)

* set dinner table

* take down laundry

 

4 nights a week, they do the dinner dishes (DH & I switch off the other 3)

Every evening, the family folds laundry together (usually during the evening news on TV).

 

DS cleans the turtle tank on the roof-top once a week or as needed.

 

Once a week, they clean the bathrooms. In theory, once a week they clean and vacuum their own rooms. Every two weeks, they change their bed linens.

 

 

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#13 of 19 Old 04-15-2012, 08:58 AM
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My 12 year old has been doing the regular dishes for about a year.  By regular, I don't include pots and pans.  She is capable of washing the pots and pans, but right now her "job" is to load the dishwasher.  Additionally, she keeps her room clean without reminding (includes regular vacuuming and semi regular dusting).  She can fold a lot of the laundry--this isn't her "job" but she does help with it whenever she happens to be near a fresh load.  There is a bathroom in the basement that is her responsibility.  She sometimes needs reminders, but she is able to keep it clean.  Sometimes she gets sloppy with it, but it isn't a reflection on her ability.  She helps take care of the cats and dogs, she helps run garbage out and sort recycling, and vacuums & dusts on request.  

 

My 9 year old's job is to empty the dishwasher (except silverware--the 6 yr old does that).  She sets and clears the table with the 6 year old.  She is meant to keep her room clean but isn't independent.  She puts away her own laundry, and brings up the dirty.  She can fold towels and washcloths and will help me wash the bathroom.  She is capable of wiping down counters and tables.  She does a lot of helping, but less independent chores.  

 

None of my kids are good at sweeping/mopping. 

 

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#14 of 19 Old 04-15-2012, 11:58 AM
 
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we dont have a set chore list.  i give out tasks daily that needs to be done.  typically once a week he wipes down the bathroom, he vacuum and sweeps house a couple times a week.  washes and dries a few loads of laundry, keeps his room clean, takes out recycling and is responsible for his own dishes.

 

As a member of the household i expect he pitch in too


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#15 of 19 Old 04-17-2012, 06:05 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, I ended up making a very, very simple chart that included one kitchen/food related chore a day for each child (load or unload dishwasher, set or clear table, fold napkins)  In the past I'd always included all their chores on it since I thought they would feel proud of how much they do, but  I guess that just felt overwhelming. And really, my oldest doesn't need reminding to care for his animals, he does it independently without me reminding him at all.   The one kitchen chore a day is working well. While my son is physically and cognitively able to load a dishwasher he really isn't able to do it to my liking.  He came to me, calmly and reasonably, and requested a different chore and suggested watering the chickens daily instead of loading the dishwasher 2X week.  It was NICE!  A real conversation, not whining or complaining.  Plus on his assigned load dishwasher day he is so helpful with other things because he  *really* doesn't want to do it.

 

I also saw a family therapist who suggested picking one area and working on that before moving on. So I am starting small in other areas where we seem to have conflict and hope to make changes there also.  Feeling optismist...... Thanks.


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#16 of 19 Old 04-17-2012, 06:12 AM
 
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While my son is physically and cognitively able to load a dishwasher he really isn't able to do it to my liking.


 

Can you live with the way he does it? I think it is better for things to be done slightly-not-as-well as mom would do it but for kids to be doing real work.

 

I left home feeling really insecure about putting dishes in a dishwasher because I couldn't do it to suit my mother.  If there is something major that he's doing wrong, tell him. Otherwise, let it go. 


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#17 of 19 Old 04-17-2012, 06:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Can you live with the way he does it? I think it is better for things to be done slightly-not-as-well as mom would do it but for kids to be doing real work.

 

I left home feeling really insecure about putting dishes in a dishwasher because I couldn't do it to suit my mother.  If there is something major that he's doing wrong, tell him. Otherwise, let it go. 



I would rather he not repeatedly do something wrong so that it become habit.  I'll wait until he gets how the water flows and why spoons should nest to help the water flow over them, and that plates of the same size should be near one another, or why some bowls can nest close together and still get clean but others need more space. By doing it poorly over and over that will become the "right" way to do it in his mind, kwim?



Quote:
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Can you live with the way he does it? I think it is better for things to be done slightly-not-as-well as mom would do it but for kids to be doing real work.

 

I left home feeling really insecure about putting dishes in a dishwasher because I couldn't do it to suit my mother.  If there is something major that he's doing wrong, tell him. Otherwise, let it go. 



 



Quote:
Originally Posted by Linda on the move View Post


 

Can you live with the way he does it? I think it is better for things to be done slightly-not-as-well as mom would do it but for kids to be doing real work.

 

I left home feeling really insecure about putting dishes in a dishwasher because I couldn't do it to suit my mother.  If there is something major that he's doing wrong, tell him. Otherwise, let it go. 



 


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#18 of 19 Old 04-17-2012, 07:20 AM
 
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Should an 11 year old be able to clear the table, load the dishwasher, wipe counters down?  Not every meal but maybe 4 meals a week?  He has no trouble emptying the dishwasher or setting the table but once gross plates, silverware, etc are involved he "can't". 


Quote:

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I would rather he not repeatedly do something wrong so that it become habit.  I'll wait until he gets how the water flows and why spoons should nest to help the water flow over them, and that plates of the same size should be near one another, or why some bowls can nest close together and still get clean but others need more space. By doing it poorly over and over that will become the "right" way to do it in his mind, kwim?

 

I think that part of your son's attitude is because you've made it very clear that he cannot do this to suit you.

 

There are a lot of right ways to load to a dishwasher.  I still don't do it to suit my mother. It doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be done.


but everything has pros and cons  shrug.gif

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#19 of 19 Old 04-17-2012, 08:30 AM
 
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Originally Posted by mumm View Post

Well, I ended up making a very, very simple chart that included one kitchen/food related chore a day for each child (load or unload dishwasher, set or clear table, fold napkins)  In the past I'd always included all their chores on it since I thought they would feel proud of how much they do, but  I guess that just felt overwhelming. And really, my oldest doesn't need reminding to care for his animals, he does it independently without me reminding him at all.   The one kitchen chore a day is working well. While my son is physically and cognitively able to load a dishwasher he really isn't able to do it to my liking.  He came to me, calmly and reasonably, and requested a different chore and suggested watering the chickens daily instead of loading the dishwasher 2X week.  It was NICE!  A real conversation, not whining or complaining.  Plus on his assigned load dishwasher day he is so helpful with other things because he  *really* doesn't want to do it.

 

I also saw a family therapist who suggested picking one area and working on that before moving on. So I am starting small in other areas where we seem to have conflict and hope to make changes there also.  Feeling optismist...... Thanks.


Glad things are looking better and kudos to your DS for conversing about the matter maturely. I'm all for shifting chores around to those who don't mind it as much. We solved this by just telling the kids as a unit what their responsibilities were and having them split them up between them based on what they can tolerate in a day lol. 

 


Married mom of two, DD 17 and DS 13.
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