We started laying down the law to my son Ryan who will be 16 in few weeks and have tried to make him more accountable. He and his siblings are expected to put their clothes in the hamper twice a day, to make their bed each morning and pick up items on their floors before they leave. The rule is that if you want to have friends over/go out over the weekend that you will comply. The younger 2 do this almost without reminder. It is working well. Ryan needs to be reminded.
Today he was running late and looking for his baseball hat. He, per usual...asked for help in trying to find it. Because he asked nicer than his usual accusatory tone I did try to help a bit. In the process of trying to find it he ended up pulling out many clothes, which are now all over the floor. He did find the hat under his own bed.
As Ryan was preparing to wait for the bus, I reminded him of the need to pick up his room. He curtly replied that he did not have time as the bus was coming (which was mostly true and honestly I did not want to drive him if he missed it.) and that he would do it when he came home later that night.
Now I have a cleaning woman in today who will end up picking it all up for him by the time he gets home. I let him go and did not say anything. Thoughts?
1. I probably should have left the cleaning woman a note NOT to pick up his room??
2. I could have pushed it and made him miss his bus but figured this was a case of pick your battles.
3. I did not like though that he TOLD me what he was doing vs asking ...but at his age what is a reasonable expectation. He was not terribly disrespectful ...but he was assertive.
Let me know how you would have handled this.
You are greatly on target. It would have been appropriate for the cleaning lady to bypass his room. And I agree that “not making him miss the bus” was a good call. It sounds like you will have to remind him about chores, however.
Should you have to remind your son to do chores? You'd better plan on it unless you want to feel frustrated. Teens are certainly capable of remembering a schedule of things that are important to them. However, chores are just not that important to them. Furthermore, they don't feel responsible for them. After all, it's your house, not theirs!
They don't feel the same level of "ownership" in the way the house looks. This explains why they can sometimes show impressive cleaning skills when their friends are coming over or they're left at home for the weekend, but don't remember the chores at other times. For regular chores, save yourself the hassle and remind them.
Some teens bristle at this reminder, however, because they think that they don't need the reminder. To avoid this resentment, you might include the reminder in a general review of everyone's schedule and responsibilities for the day, or make a reminder/check-off sheet for everyone's chores (including your own). Then you can present the list as a reminder for yourself, also.
Another strategy is to ask your teen to monitor the compliance with chores for the family, including your compliance. They feel more investment in the tasks, and you may share more empathy with your teen when you experience their reminders to do your chores.
Given the arguments and the supervision that are sometimes required to get some teens to finish chores, many parents ask, "Why bother?" Be assured that the effort is, indeed, worthwhile. Accomplishment of chores are especially important for teens because they teach basic domestic "survival skills" that will help the teens to successfully and competently live separately from their parents when that time comes.
This competence also adds to their sense of self-reliance – AND REMEMBER: SELF-RELIANCE IS KEY! It can also foster self-discipline and order, which are foundations for successful employment. And, chores help the teens to prepare to be responsible roommates, the first step in being responsible and helpful community members.
Mark Hutten, M.A.