"We believe that it's important for our sons to be responsible, so we've assigned them a few household chores. For example, we've asked our thirteen-year old to make sure our trash and recyclables are ready for pick-up once a week. Our fifteen-year old has to mow the lawns. But so far, they've done nothing but gripe. We really don't know how to motivate them or punish them for their refusal to do chores. I don't want to let them off the hook, but I really don't want chores to become a serious source of conflict between us. Any suggestions?"
Make a list of all the chores that need to get done around the house, including the ones that you do. Determine how much time each chore takes and record in writing. Most families have over twenty hours of work per week just to keep things going. Make sure you include washing clothes, folding them and putting them away; and all the time that goes into food: planning a menu, making the grocery list, shopping, shelving, organizing, cooking, cleaning up after, etc. This will help your teens see that there is much to do and everyone needs to do their part for things to be fair. Then assign a name to the task, of course the parents will have more hours assigned, PLUS their day jobs, so it won’t be even.
Emphasize to your sons that everyone needs to contribute to the team: Team Family. Remember, amilies have members, not guests. Families can’t afford to have spectators; we all need to contribute. You could ask your teen, “What happens if I stop doing the laundry or grocery shopping?” “What might happen if Dad doesn’t feel like working and doesn’t go to the office?” Part of life is learning to do what we’d rather not do. It’s not easy, its not always fun, but being mature is doing the right thing even when we don’t feel like it. It’s putting our self discipline ahead of our feelings.
When everyone does his task without being nagged to do it, home life is much smoother. If one of your sons refuses to do his job, assign him another one. Say, “You have just earned an additional job. This is because I have to take time to talk to you about this—time that I could be doing my fair share of my tasks. Instead, I’m talking to you about your contribution. You owe me 30 minutes of extra chores, plus you need to finish your regular duty before you go out tonight. If you gripe about it, I’ll add another 30 minutes of work—your choice.”
Make sure that you affirm your sons for the work that they do as a contribution to the family. Don’t be too picky about how thorough it is at first; just applaud any progress in the right direction. They will be more likely to do a better job, and finish it in the future if you express appreciation for their efforts. Don’t expect perfection, but affirm progress.
To learn more or if you have any questions go to: http://www.understandingyourteenager.com/