I'm the disrespectful one??? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 58 Old 12-27-2007, 05:14 AM
 
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I have this same problem w/ my 17 y/o little brother, sometimes... (he lives w/me and dh)... I find that sometimes the best approach can be rather "harsh" as others have called it, that being, "You help out with the family or you pay rent, or you leave. This isn't a house for freeloaders."

I think a parent's job is to teach their children how to be a responsible well balanced adult, and hopefully one who has their priorities straight. That takes love and hard work, but it's not always the kind of love that is nice. I really believe that sometimes you just have to use tough love.

That doesn't mean you have to be mean about it, of course, but you do have to be tough...

For a teenager, I don't think there's anything wrong at all with telling them they can help with the dishes or get thier own dinner. There's always enough food in my house that they won't starve.

Of course, in a situation like the one mentioned, I'd either give the kid the choice for me to do the dishes, and he can make dinner, or I'd tell him that he can do the dishes BEFORE i make dinner, and have less to clean up, or AFTER I make dinner, and there's more.

some of the comments I saw reading this thread are *really* judgemental. Dude. chill. And while this forum advocates certain types of parenting, first off, it doesn't mandate it, and second, it also requires respect. Someone asks for advice, you don't bash.
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#32 of 58 Old 12-27-2007, 11:03 AM
 
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I frequently feel that people at MDC advocate the idea of "If a kid doesn't want to help out, just do it yourself, because eventually the kid will help out, or the kid helps out in other ways." I've seen people say, "No child never does ANYTHING to help out."

I guess I fundamentally disagree with that approach. I feel like, Why should I routinely do things for my kids just because they don't feel like it? Why should my life be about taking care of my responsibilities AND those of my kids just because they don't want to? I don't want to, either! Of course I help my kids out if someone is sick, or rushed, or there is an unusual circumstance, but for the most part, I expect my kids to do what they are capable of and I don't do it for them just because they'd rather not.

For example, yesterday Desta slept really late. I didn't. I got up at normal time so I could get a bunch of stuff ready to go for brunch for my mother's birthday. Desta got up and got dressed and had breakfast, and then I asked her to please remove her laundry from the line so that I could hang the wet stuff from the washer. She launched into this diatribe about how this is her vacation and why should she have to spend it doing chores and she doesn't get to do anything she wants, etc.

I'm sure some here would say, "Well, be a pal and help your daughter out. How long does it really take to take down her laundry?" True, but why does my burden increase just because she thinks her vacation should be about hanging out and not helping out? What about my vacation? (Ha ha) I was on a tight timeline.

What I said to her was, "You did exactly what you wanted for three hours this morning. You slept late. I did all the work to make it possible for us to go out to eat with Grandma this morning. I'm happy to do that, but I don't have enough time to do my tasks as well as yours. I didn't do Efram's and Ramona's tasks, either."

I don't even view taking down and folding laundry as a "chore." It's what you do if you want clean, wrinkle-free clothes, which clearly she does because she washed them and hung them up. Desta was fed a bill of goods in Ethiopia about how she would have servants to attend to her in America and how no one here has to work. I know it honks her off that life in America isn't what she expected it to be. But I don't excuse her from helping just because she'd rather not or because she didn't think she'd have to. In the orphanage, she did chores to help the orphanage run smoothly. In our home, she does chores to help the home run smoothly. I simply can't do it all, and I don't have time to wait for her to decide that she's willing to help out. The house needs to run right now, not when Desta decides to get over her snit about not having a servant (that snit has been running for 19 months and counting).

I don't know, I guess what I am trying to say is that I see a lot of people here talk about how kids shouldn't be required/"forced" to help, and then they just take a great majority of the work on themselves. I suppose it's just a different worldview.

dm
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#33 of 58 Old 12-27-2007, 11:41 AM
 
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I frequently feel that people at MDC advocate the idea of "If a kid doesn't want to help out, just do it yourself, because eventually the kid will help out, or the kid helps out in other ways." I've seen people say, "No child never does ANYTHING to help out."

I guess I fundamentally disagree with that approach. I feel like, Why should I routinely do things for my kids just because they don't feel like it? Why should my life be about taking care of my responsibilities AND those of my kids just because they don't want to? I don't want to, either! Of course I help my kids out if someone is sick, or rushed, or there is an unusual circumstance, but for the most part, I expect my kids to do what they are capable of and I don't do it for them just because they'd rather not.

For example, yesterday Desta slept really late. I didn't. I got up at normal time so I could get a bunch of stuff ready to go for brunch for my mother's birthday. Desta got up and got dressed and had breakfast, and then I asked her to please remove her laundry from the line so that I could hang the wet stuff from the washer. She launched into this diatribe about how this is her vacation and why should she have to spend it doing chores and she doesn't get to do anything she wants, etc.

I'm sure some here would say, "Well, be a pal and help your daughter out. How long does it really take to take down her laundry?" True, but why does my burden increase just because she thinks her vacation should be about hanging out and not helping out? What about my vacation? (Ha ha) I was on a tight timeline.

What I said to her was, "You did exactly what you wanted for three hours this morning. You slept late. I did all the work to make it possible for us to go out to eat with Grandma this morning. I'm happy to do that, but I don't have enough time to do my tasks as well as yours. I didn't do Efram's and Ramona's tasks, either."

I don't even view taking down and folding laundry as a "chore." It's what you do if you want clean, wrinkle-free clothes, which clearly she does because she washed them and hung them up. Desta was fed a bill of goods in Ethiopia about how she would have servants to attend to her in America and how no one here has to work. I know it honks her off that life in America isn't what she expected it to be. But I don't excuse her from helping just because she'd rather not or because she didn't think she'd have to. In the orphanage, she did chores to help the orphanage run smoothly. In our home, she does chores to help the home run smoothly. I simply can't do it all, and I don't have time to wait for her to decide that she's willing to help out. The house needs to run right now, not when Desta decides to get over her snit about not having a servant (that snit has been running for 19 months and counting).

I don't know, I guess what I am trying to say is that I see a lot of people here talk about how kids shouldn't be required/"forced" to help, and then they just take a great majority of the work on themselves. I suppose it's just a different worldview.

dm


I agree with your whole post. I also have gotten the "kids shouldn't do anything" crap from my SIL whose kids do absolutely not one chore or clean up after themselves. I mean, hey, my kids are not servants, but isn't part of raising kids, teaching them to become independent. Part of being an independent adult is learning how to clean up after yourself and take care of your belongings and home.
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#34 of 58 Old 12-27-2007, 11:58 AM
 
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The more hormones my son gets the more careful I am getting. I think his developing minds and body has made him very "distractable". I found that eye contact, touch, et is more important when I get his attention.
I agree. I don't have a teen just yet, but almost and he is very difficult the older he gets and the more the hormones kick in.

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#35 of 58 Old 12-27-2007, 12:58 PM
 
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My children do not have any chores that they are forced to do. Not a single one. They do lots of things though. They take out garbage and recycling, check mail, sweep, load and unload the dishwasher, take laundry upstairs, etc. In our experience most of the kids we know that don't want to do anything around their homes, or who try to get around it or out of it are the ones who are forced and punished.
This is more or less what I see too.

There is a story in Contiuum Concept that I always think of when I'm in a disscussion about chores.

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I don't know, I guess what I am trying to say is that I see a lot of people here talk about how kids shouldn't be required/"forced" to help, and then they just take a great majority of the work on themselves.
Eh? I'm not sure I see this being said here. What I read is just that there are certain lengths that some of us would NOT go to in order to "force" chores on our kids. Actually, I'm pretty sure that is true of *everyone* on this thread - there are certain lengths YOU would not go to either -- I know that you wouldn't beat Desta, right? I think we just draw the line at different places. And maybe not so far apart as you think either. This, for example:

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What I said to her was, "You did exactly what you wanted for three hours this morning. You slept late. I did all the work to make it possible for us to go out to eat with Grandma this morning. I'm happy to do that, but I don't have enough time to do my tasks as well as yours. I didn't do Efram's and Ramona's tasks, either."
Absolutely something I would say to my child! Completely appropriate, relevent, and truthful. You are not threatening arbitrary consequences.... you are stating how it is and how you feel, and making your expectations clear. I have NO problem with that.

But do you see how that is different from, "Do the dishes or go to your room!" ? Not that I think thats the end of the world either -- but which line of persuasion would you feel most respected on the other end of?
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#36 of 58 Old 12-27-2007, 01:38 PM
 
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With my 12.5 year old, I say "I need your help in here - can you put the dishes away (or dust or vacuum or whatever), please?" And he does. We've always approached it as a team effort. If he doesn't want to, I ask why, and if it seems like he has, for lack of a better term, a "legitimate" reason - being very tired, not feeling well, et cetera, I let it go. If it's just "I want to watch the rest of this Simpsons episode," then I ask him to do it when his show is over or whatever. It's not hard to treat kids with respect as long as you don't get all worked up over showing who is "boss" here and flexing your parental muscles. If my kid was consistently ignoring me, disrespectful, refusing to help, then I would consider my problem deeper than just how much he does or doesn't help around the house, and seek the root cause.

But do this NOW because I said so? No.
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#37 of 58 Old 12-27-2007, 01:38 PM
 
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IMO, you *are* being too nice. You're trying to be friends with him, when it's time to enforce some hard truths about family. In this instance, he totally got out of doing what he didn't want to do, AND he got to stay in his nice comfy room so he didn't have to deal with you.
...

I offered that possibility to DSS and even though he's 10, he took it, because he hates doing the dishes THAT MUCH. He's learning how to cook AND learning that there are things in life that, though they suck, have to be done. Going to work sucks. Homework sucks. Cleaning the house sucks. Paying bills suck. What are you going to do about it? You just do it.
...

An alternative:
He doesn't want to do dishes. Whenever he uses a dish and leaves it dirty, stick it on his bed. Don't wash any of his clothing. Don't give him any of the dinners you make. I give it a week or two, and then he'll start contributing.

...


Don't let up; good luck!

I agree with all of the above.... in fact, i may take some of this advice myself
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#38 of 58 Old 12-27-2007, 01:53 PM
 
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Absolutely something I would say to my child! Completely appropriate, relevent, and truthful. You are not threatening arbitrary consequences.... you are stating how it is and how you feel, and making your expectations clear. I have NO problem with that.

But do you see how that is different from, "Do the dishes or go to your room!" ? Not that I think thats the end of the world either -- but which line of persuasion would you feel most respected on the other end of?
I guess the difference is that, had Desta listened to me and then not done what I'd asked, there would have been consequences, such as not getting to watch the movie she brought from the library if I ended up having to do it or even not leaving for brunch until it was done. I wouldn't have just let her choose not to do it with no repercussions other than having an unhappy mom.

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#39 of 58 Old 12-27-2007, 02:24 PM
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I guess the difference is that, had Desta listened to me and then not done what I'd asked, there would have been consequences, such as not getting to watch the movie she brought from the library if I ended up having to do it or even not leaving for brunch until it was done. I wouldn't have just let her choose not to do it with no repercussions other than having an unhappy mom.
But Desta isn't a typical thirteen year old, and what Desta needs isn't necessarily what children who aren't in her specific situation need. With my securely attached teen, punishing her for not folding her laundry when I asked her to would backfire - she would feel that I wasn't respecting her need for some time off and was turning a 5 minute job into a power play. I can accept that for your child, that isn't the situation, but that would be the situation here.

There have been periods when Rain did very little to help (especially when she was 12), but they passed... and trusting that they would pass made them easier to deal with.

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#40 of 58 Old 12-27-2007, 02:44 PM
 
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But Desta isn't a typical thirteen year old
Who is, really? Every situation has unique and extenuating circumstances.

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There have been periods when Rain did very little to help (especially when she was 12), but they passed... and trusting that they would pass made them easier to deal with.
I guess we differ in how much of the load we are willing to shoulder. I am unwilling to routinely carry the load for my kids just because they "don't want to," or are in a phase or whatever, and I am willing to give unpleasant consequences to not doing the task as an encourager so that I don't have to do it all by myself.

All of my kids try to shirk their responsibilities at times. This morning Ramona, who is 5 5/6, didn't want to feed the dog because she was cold and huddled in a blanket on the couch. The dog was hungry. I didn't just feed the dog for her. I told her that she agreed to feed the dog and that he is relying on her to do so. (I am willing to remind her, so she isn't "responsible" for the dog, but the physical act of feeding him is her job.) Since she agreed to do it, I expect her to. If she's cold, she can put on her robe and slippers and then feed the dog. Or she can ask her brother to do it for her. Or she can feed him while wrapped in the blanket. Whatever. But I'm not going to stop what I am doing (making breakfast, which is essentially "feeding the child," which she definitely wants me to do, even if I am cold, because she is hungry, just like the dog) and do her task for her just because she doesn't want to. If I did that every time my kids seemed to have a reasonable idea about why they shouldn't do their jobs, I'd be shouldering a lot more of the burden. Ramona wasn't interested in getting on her robe and slippers; she just wanted to huddle on the couch and let me do the job. Sorry, no dice. You can either feed the dog and then huddle on the couch again or you can get warm clothes on and then feed the dog. But simply not feeding him, or making him wait until you feel moved to feed him, is not an acceptable option.

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#41 of 58 Old 12-27-2007, 04:00 PM
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Well.... I think about short term and long term goals, I guess. In the short term, I'd like the task to be done, as smoothly and easily as possible. Since it's always been far easier to go with Rain than against her (especially when she was younger, when she was definitely, um, *spirited*), sometimes that meant doing it myself.... and other times it meant leaving it undone... and sometimes it meant another solution.

In the long term, though, it was important for my to model kindness and helping someone out, and I saw doing things like feeding the pets or folding her laundry as doing that. Today she probably does almost as much around the house as I do, and she wouldn't hesitate to take down and fold my laundry if I forgot or was having a hard week. I am happy with the way things have worked out, but when she was 5 I was going on faith...

And Rain does want me to be happy, and she has since she was pretty little. Maybe not every moment of every day, but in general it is a concern for her, just as her happiness is a concern for me. I think that's really been the key for us... especially once she got old enough to see things from another perspective more easily. It's normal for 5 year olds to be more self-centered, but it passes, usually...

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#42 of 58 Old 12-27-2007, 04:17 PM
 
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Yeah, I don't mean to give the impression that I lord over my kids all the time, forcing them to do all sorts of unpleasant tasks. For the most part, my kids help out without complaint. Sometimes they complain. Some of those times they are just being lazy and the task needs to be done and I can't get it done. Then I "make" my kids do it. Sometimes the reason the kids don't want to do it is something we can work out to everyone's agreement (I do it, or a sibling does it, or we make some other arrangement, or we just don't do it). Desta chronically grumbles about her chores, but she generally does them without being reminded. The little kids generally do their chores just fine. The vast majority of the time things are hunky dory.

I, too, look at short- and long-term goals. My short-term goals are to get the job done, to not have to carry an inordinate load myself, and to help my kids learn to take their responsibilities seriously (in no particular order). My long-term goals are to teach my kids the basic skills of life and to help them develop a sense of responsibility. Where I may differ from others at MDC is that I don't think that requiring chores crushes that sense of responsibility or inhibits it from developing.

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#43 of 58 Old 12-29-2007, 12:26 AM
 
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My first thought on this is that it was not something the boy needed done. It was something mom needed done. So, it's mom's problem and ds doing it would be a favor to mom and not required. I like the idea of asking ds if he could come up with a plan for getting the dishes washed before I had to start dinner. I also like the idea of showing a 13yo how to do her own laundry. My ds learned to do his own laundry at about that age and now does not want me to do it for him. I practically beg him to let me wash his clothes. LOL As an adult and a parent I am obligated to provide for my children. My children, however, are not obligated to do anything for me.

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#44 of 58 Old 12-29-2007, 09:27 AM
 
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\
I, too, look at short- and long-term goals. My short-term goals are to get the job done, to not have to carry an inordinate load myself, and to help my kids learn to take their responsibilities seriously (in no particular order). My long-term goals are to teach my kids the basic skills of life and to help them develop a sense of responsibility. Where I may differ from others at MDC is that I don't think that requiring chores crushes that sense of responsibility or inhibits it from developing.

dm
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#45 of 58 Old 12-29-2007, 10:27 AM
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I think as parents we sometimes forget to treat our children with a sense of respect. Talk to them as we might like to be talked to. Explain why you need the dishes done. If he still refuses, ask how he would like the situation resolved. Allow him to be a part of the planning process. Dinner can not be made unless the kitchen is cleaned. How do you purpose we do that? I tell my kids when they pull the tired nonsense on me, I'm tired too. I got up this morning, before you, worked later than you went to school, and now I am home trying to do things so we can all have an evening together. I need help, I cannot do it all by myself. I find explaining to them my position, and why I need help, works too. Of course I have power struggles. We all do at one time or another. You have to do your share, you just do. It's not fair for you to dump your share on me or your sibling. You wouldn't like it if we did it to you. And ultimately, sometimes we just are tired. Would you like help? We all just need a little help doing a chore sometimes. Sometimes they ask for it, sometimes they don't. I am quick to remind them, that when they asked for help I was there. Now I am asking for help. I don't ask them to do anything I wouldn't do. And I treat them as I expect to be treated. Things get done around here, sometimes easily, sometimes not. But they get done. I am usually just too tired to do everyones stuff.

I have an 11yo boy, and a 13yo girl. They both, clean their rooms once a week, cook dinner, load/unload the dishwasher, clean bathroom, sweep, mop dust. Lately, it has been too hard on all of us and we have had someone come to clean. I refuse to allow this person to clean their rooms. They have a obligation to keep their own space presentable. I do not ever touch their rooms, that is their space. While they clean their rooms, I am in my room doing the exact same thing. I think that is why I don't get alot of flack.

It all about respect. You can't get respect if you don't give it. How would you talk to an adult you needed to do these things?
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#46 of 58 Old 12-29-2007, 11:34 AM
 
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My first thought on this is that it was not something the boy needed done. It was something mom needed done. So, it's mom's problem
Really? Mom is the only one who benefits from having dinner cooked? IMO, if the boy wants to eat the dinner mom cooked, then it's his problem, too, that the kitchen is not in a state in which dinner can be prepared.

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#47 of 58 Old 12-29-2007, 11:44 AM
 
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While they clean their rooms, I am in my room doing the exact same thing. I think that is why I don't get alot of flack.
I see your point. But I do all the house cleaning and cooking in front of my children allll the time and they still get upset when asked to do something like clean their room or another area of the house. So that's definitely not going to work for the majority if us moms.

I think not wanting to tidy up and keep things clean is just part of being this age. I don't think that means they have a problem or can "never" learn to clean up after themselves. Plus a lot of it starts when they are very little. If you don't train them from a very young age then it's a lot tougher to start when they are preteens and especially teens.

I have a hard time believing ANY child in this age range is perfect and does housework every day without complaining atleast a little bit. If you're children are, then kudos to you!

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#48 of 58 Old 12-29-2007, 01:22 PM
 
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Really? Mom is the only one who benefits from having dinner cooked? IMO, if the boy wants to eat the dinner mom cooked, then it's his problem, too, that the kitchen is not in a state in which dinner can be prepared.

dm
Read some books on the subject of who owns a problem or a situation. It's not about who benefits. It's about who has the problem or need or is agitated or upset. If you have a problem with something, that's your problem, not anyone else's. It's not someone else's responsibility (especially a child's) to take care of an adult's needs. I am not saying that people shouldn't help each other. I am saying that I don't think it's right to expect our children to do things for us.

If my house is dirty and I'm worried about the baby picking something up off the floor or would be embarassed if someone stopped by, that's my issue. I can ask my child if he'll help me clean up but he's not required. I can't expect him to be as concerned or bothered as me about the state of the house because those things just aren't his focus. On the flip side, if my ds leaves his room such a mess that he can't find his fave video game, which eventually gets broken because it was underneath a pile of something that got stepped on, it's not my problem or my responsibility or obligation to buy him a new game.

There are always options to dinner when there isn't anything clean to cook in or eat with. How often do adults decide they are too tired to cook or clean so they heat up frozen dinners or go out to eat or have something delivered? Is it not acceptable for kids to feel the same way? The difference is that the kids don't have the power and control over the money and the transportation and everything else that goes into making that happen.

I have one child who I raised thinking that he had to contribute to the household and had to do chores and chip in and "do his part" and now I have a child who rarely does anything for anyone. I have another child who I have not place any requirements or expectations on but rather try to model behavior for and he is almost always helpful, even without being asked. It could be a personality difference or it could be a difference in how they were/are treated or a combo of both.

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#49 of 58 Old 12-29-2007, 02:56 PM
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There are always options to dinner when there isn't anything clean to cook in or eat with. How often do adults decide they are too tired to cook or clean so they heat up frozen dinners or go out to eat or have something delivered? Is it not acceptable for kids to feel the same way? The difference is that the kids don't have the power and control over the money and the transportation and everything else that goes into making that happen.
Yeah... we have mastered the art of making a quick meal with one square foot of counter space and two sinks full of dishes (and our kitchen is only 15 square feet anyway - literally). That's kind of what the kitchen looks like now, as a matter of fact, but I did get coffee made... and last night I made beans and cheese tostadas.

I'm not saying that anyone else has to live that way - I'm comfortable with the kitchen being a wreck for a couple of days, but no one else has to be, and eventually one of us cleans it - but MarineWife is right to point out that the idea that a messy kitchen means one can't prepare a meal is not true for everyone...

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#50 of 58 Old 12-29-2007, 03:20 PM
 
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that the idea that a messy kitchen means one can't prepare a meal is not true for everyone...

Dar
And the option for the one who can't stand the messy kitchen (in this case mom) is for that person to clean it. I'm one who cannot cook if the kitchen is messy even if I have plenty of clean pots and pans and dishes. If I want dinner done now and the kitchen is a mess so that I can't cook, I have to own that problem and do something about it. If I would like someone else to help me clean the kitchen before I cook, I need to find a time when everyone is agreeable to that.

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#51 of 58 Old 12-29-2007, 05:01 PM
 
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Read some books on the subject of who owns a problem or a situation. It's not about who benefits. It's about who has the problem or need or is agitated or upset. If you have a problem with something, that's your problem, not anyone else's.
I guess I just see it completely differently. To me, what you said feels like you're saying that people in a family have no responsibility for the other family members' wellbeing and happiness, and I simply don't see it that way. I am happy to cook for my family as long as they understand that I can't do it all by myself all the time. Just like I help my kids look for something when it has gotten buried under mess, I expect that my kids help me excavate the kitchen when they want dinner. To me, that give-and-take is what living in a family is all about, not everyone chasing their own bliss and disowning responsibility for others.

We have had to work really hard to teach my oldest, who joined us from an orphanage at age 11, that loving relationships are reciprocal and that being part of a family means that we all take responsibility for the family and the home. I understand that this is a different situation than a child who was raised from birth in his or her family, but I think it is interesting that my little kids, who have been raised with the expectation that they help out, and who do so the vast majority of the time without a fuss, seem to take in in stride that that's how a family runs whereas my oldest, who was raised by people (staff members) who did everything for her, has really, really struggled with the idea that family members take care of one another.

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#52 of 58 Old 12-29-2007, 07:41 PM
 
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To me, what you said feels like you're saying that people in a family have no responsibility for the other family members' wellbeing and happiness

dm
I have come to realize and accept that I have absolutely no control over anyone else's emotions. I cannot make someone happy. I can try to do things for them that they will appreciate or make their lives easier or better but I don't expect or require reciprocation. I do things for people because I want to not because I expect something in return, especially my children. As an adult and a parent it is my obligation and responsibility to provide for the wellbeing of my children. I chose to have children and take on all the responsibility that goes with that. My children did not choose to be born. Nor did they choose to have siblings. It is not their obligation or responsibility to care for me or their siblings. That does not mean that I don't do everything I can to show my children that caring for others is important. I have discovered that if I care for them without any strings attached they will care for others. If I try to force them to be a part of or be responsible or care or feel sorry, I get the opposite result.

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#53 of 58 Old 12-30-2007, 10:29 AM
 
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I can try to do things for them that they will appreciate or make their lives easier or better but I don't expect or require reciprocation.
I "hear" people here at MDC say things like that a lot ... basically that if you have no expectations of other people, you won't be disappointed. I think that's a very clinical view that's not really in line with human nature. I think that loving relationships are based on reciprocity. I guess it's just a fundamental difference in beliefs.

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#54 of 58 Old 12-30-2007, 11:28 AM
 
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I "hear" people here at MDC say things like that a lot ... basically that if you have no expectations of other people, you won't be disappointed. I think that's a very clinical view that's not really in line with human nature. I think that loving relationships are based on reciprocity. I guess it's just a fundamental difference in beliefs.

dm
I think you might be misunderstanding the idea of not having expectations that set one up for disappointment. In this context, avoiding having expectations about another person that may set you up for disappointment is not the same as avoiding doing something yourself because it may not turn out the way you want. I do things with the understanding that I don't really have any control over the ultimate outcome.

Equal, loving relationships do usually involve reciprocity of some sort, even if it's just an exchange of love. I would be very unhappy in a relationship with someone who didn't help me around the house, so I married someone who does housework rather than marrying someone who doesn't and then expecting him to change. That way I have not set myself up for disappointment by expecting more from my partner than he can give. I'm not one who naturally and easily does things for others (maybe because I was not cared for that way as a child) but being with someone who gives to me unconditionally has made me want to do more for him and for everyone else. It still amazes me that he doesn't expect me to do things for him. He doesn't get upset if the house is a mess or he has to do some laundry. If my dh tried to punish me because I didn't have dinner ready when he wanted it because I was tired from doing a bunch of nothing at home with the kids while he was out working hard and making money (being faciscious..sp), we'd have some serious issues. As our relationship is, the give and take ebbs and flows between us. Sometimes I give more and sometimes he does. It's rarely, if ever, a 50/50 situation but things even out in the long run.

However, a parent/child relationship is not equal no matter how much we may try to make it so, if for no other reason than because our society does not allow children to be equal. Children only have as much power over their external situation as adults give them. I think that requiring my children to give back to me is an abuse of the power I have over them.

For example, yesterday my 16yo ds wanted me to drive him to a friend's house. I needed the cover put back on our Jeep because it had been blown off and it was going to rain. I have a hard time putting it on myself because I'm very short and I have two little kids I have to take care of. I could've demanded that my ds do that for me before I'd give him a ride, which would've set up a power struggle. Instead, I asked him if he would do it for me before we left but I didn't make it a requirement of me driving him somewhere. He didn't mind at all.


Another example with my 3yo: He wanted to play a game in the house that involved a lot of running and jumping around. There were other toys all over the floor so I told him it would need to be cleaned up before he could play the other game so that he'd be safe. From experience I have learned that if I tell him he has to clean this up before he can do that, he will fuss about it and complain and refuse. I am expecting him to understand what I want and do it because it's reasonable to me. Then I could get angry and annoyed and upset that he won't do it and we could get into an argument or power struggle. But if I tell him I'm going to clean it up and ask if he'd like to help, he will usually help and be very happy about it, singing the clean up song as he's doing it. Sometimes he doesn't want to help and I don't get angry or upset about that. I just clean it up myself. I've noticed that a lot of times when he sees me cleaning up without any anger after he's said he doesn't want to help he will decide to help.

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#55 of 58 Old 12-30-2007, 12:12 PM
 
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I guess in practice our lives don't look much different. I would have said, "We need to get the cover on the Jeep, and after that I'll run you over to your friend's." Or, "Oh, gosh, you might jump on one of your toys and break it ... or break yourself! Let's clean them up!"

However, if it were going to rain and my kid decided not to help me with the Jeep cover, I would say, "I don't want to ride around getting rained on, so if you don't want to help with the cover, you'll need to find another way to get to your friend's." And, "I really don't want you to get hurt, so if you don't want to help clean up the toys, you'll have to wait until later to jump around."

In neither case would I just do it all myself, which is something I frequently see advocated here, and the idea I get when someone says that they don't expect their kids to do anything for them.

I guess that I either see our lives as pretty much the same even if we express our ideas differently, or I just simply fail to understand how we are different.

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#56 of 58 Old 12-30-2007, 02:40 PM
 
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We are probably a lot alike and just have different ways of expressing ourselves. The difference I see is that I would clean up the room all by myself so that my child could play the other game. However, he would have to wait until I'm ready to do the cleaning rather than being able to play the other game right away if he were to clean up. With the example of the broken game, I would point out that the game might get broken if left on the floor but I would not insist that anyone clean it up. If I'm really that concerned about it and my ds doesn't want to pick it up, I'll pick it up. If I'm not concerned about it, then it's up to my ds to take care of it if he chooses. On the Jeep, the cover wasn't needed so I could drive it. It's undriveable (is that a word?). It's a protective cover because it's basically in storage in our driveway. So, that's not something that had to be done in order for me to take ds anywhere. If it had been, then I would've told him I needed his help putting the cover on it before we could go anywhere. If he refused, then he might not get a ride depending on when I could get around to putting it on myself. However, I would not punish him for not helping me put the cover on when I asked.

That's not the same as me always doing everything for my child even when they are able to do it themselves. I believe that children want to do things for themselves. They want to grow and learn and become independent. It's my job to take care of them until they can do things themselves and then allow them to do those things as they are ready (not when I expect them to be ready). If I allow my children to just be who they are, they will take on more and more responsibility for themselves and for others as they are ready.

What if each different approach resulted in the opposite result than you anticipate? What if doing things for your child without any strings attached resulted in the child learning that giving is good in and of itself? The child sees that you are tired and hungry and want to make dinner but the kitchen is a mess so the child cleans the kitchen just to help you out and not because the child feels obligated. What if using carrots and sticks (rewards and punishments) when a child behaves the way you do or do not want him to resulted in the child learning to be self-centered? If I do this, I will get that. If I don't do that or I do this, I will be punished.

A good book that I recommend if you are interested to learn more about this is Unconditional Parenting by Alfie Kohn. I think Parent Effectiveness Training (P.E.T.) talks about who owns a problem. I can't remember exactly because it's been a long time since I took the workshop.

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#57 of 58 Old 12-30-2007, 04:23 PM
 
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Thanks. I have read Unconditional Parenting. I remember thinking that it didn't sound all that different from how I do things anyway but that I would react differently in some of the examples the author gave. I can't quote specifics, I just remember that was my impression of the book.

And I don't mean to make it sound like everything I do has strings attached. I don't have this mechanical relationship with my kids where everything is tit for tat and I never help them out just because. I do lots and lots of things jouyously for my kids, and it's not that expect repayment or something. I just think that everyone in a family shares the load, regardless of who asked to be brought into existance in that family. I guess I can't help in some way relating it to my oldest child. Desta did not ask to be adopted by us, but the reality is that she is here now, and I can't just do everything for her simply because she didn't ask to be here. But I had my ideas about mutual responsibility in a family before Desta joined us, anyway. I've raised my younger kids like that even before Desta came to us.

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#58 of 58 Old 12-30-2007, 06:17 PM
 
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Ah, ok. So, then you know and have come to your own conclusions about things. I'm sure there were some things in the book that I didn't completely agree with either but I can't remember specifics now. Based on my life experiences most of the book made a lot of sense to me.

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