How did “chores” get to be such a battleground?
Today I want to talk about chores, even though, I must admit, I have more questions than answers when it comes to this topic.
For Janet and Mike, like many of the parents I have worked with, it’s an ongoing struggle. Their 15 year old daughter negotiates, ignores or flat out refuses to put her dishes in the dishwasher (even though she knows she’s supposed to), causing drama, yelling matches, and unnecessary stress. The only way they’ve found to deal with this is constant threats to take away her phone until she does her chore. But it never seems to last more than one night.
Janet and Mike know what they’re doing isn’t working, but desperation still drives them to resort to the same actions that end in blow ups every time! I feel that desperation and I’m guessing you do too.
I don’t believe we should have to steel ourselves like we’re going into battle every time we approach our child to do chores. However, I do believe that asking the right question is the key to finding solutions when it comes to most everything, including our child’s negative behavior. I also believe a lot of time and energy can be used up trying again and again to answer a question that keeps leading us into the same vicious cycles.
In order to do things differently, we need to ask different questions. Here are some possibilities:
What are the core values you want to teach your child by doing chores
What is your child actually learning from what’s happening when it comes to chores?
How do you feel about chores?
How were you made to feel about chores by your parents?
I believe finding the best solutions involves digging deep into some of these questions.
One problem I see is that chores are set up as something outside them, without the context of a common purpose. Something their parents want them to do, not something that has to do with them. Something that’s not their job…
How have we, as parents, encouraged and fostered this way of thinking?
Have we created a separation between us and them?
Have we taken on an adversarial win/lose mindset with our child?
Is that what we want?
As I said, more questions than answers…
But I believe better questions is the beginning of finding better answers.
I welcome your thoughts.
If you'd like to explore your own parenting challenges with this or anything else that has you at your wit's end at home, I invite you to take a look at my Stand Alone Sessions.