I am having difficulty getting my teenage children to help around the house. As the start of the school year looks to be delayed, I need them to really pitch in and help out more around the house since I’m also working from home and cannot possibly do everything myself. When I ask for help, my teenagers argue endlessly, then sulk and refuse to do the chores I’ve assigned them. Since we’re all stuck together with limited outside interactions, I hesitate to take away their devices and television and make the situation worse. What would you recommend I do to get my teens to help out?
Tuckered Out Tonya
Dear Tuckered Out Tonya,
I can sense the overwhelming fatigue in your letter and I only hope you took a nap after writing it. Fortunately for you, I do have some experience in wrangling the will of Miniature Humans until they conform to society’s standards of conduct. (My Mommybeast worked in childcare and she frequently had to outlast the screaming lungs of a tiny dictator who was hellbent on mutual destruction.) I would begin by pointing out to your Miniature Humans that the world is a vast place and their place in it isn’t any more important than the human beings standing next to them.
Maybe finally hearing they aren’t exceptional would shock them into silence long enough for you to get a word in.
The fact that your Miniature Humans feel comfortable enough to argue with you when asked to help, then sulk and refuse to actually do anything, leads me to conclude that the problem is your approach. You need to make it clear what your expectations are and what the consequences will be should they not meet them. Write up a chore list, give deadlines that you need them accomplished by, then follow through on the consequences you decide on.
Take away their devices, that’s probably the only way they’ll actually pay attention.
I’m guessing you’ll feel the urge to argue a bit with my strict approach to your Miniature Humans, it’s only natural to want to protect them. However, I would like to point out that you are using the word teens – meaning that in a few very short years you will be unleashing these humans onto the rest of the world. While they may prove to be exceptional in their coming years, your Miniature Humans need to be corrected on the less than stellar behavior they are currently displaying.
Their fellow citizens will appreciate your efforts in producing civilized members of society.
If you have any trouble getting their devices away from them – which I’m guessing you may – change the password on your router. Then lock yourself in the bathroom for a soak in the tub with a glass of wine… and music to drown out their screaming tantrums.
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