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I have one disagreement with my husband...

"Dear Mark, I also have one disagreement with my husband. My son doesn't do any chores around the house and my husband also waits on him hand and foot (e.g., bringing him bowls of cereal while he is watching TV). My son is 14 years and could quite easily get his own cereal. I refuse to do this except when he is running late in the morning. He thinks that I am being mean in not waiting on him, but I think that he is old enough to do this himself. What are your views on this? Regards, G."

Hi G.,

As you may know from reading my e-book, “self-reliance” is key. We want our kids to develop self-reliance. How? By setting up a system where they have to earn their material items and activities (stuff and freedom).

We help our children purchase material things with their own money (e.g., from an allowance, money earned by doing chores, money earned from their place of employment, etc.). And, we help our children earn freedom (e.g., by following rules, doing chores, accepting appropriate discipline for misbehavior, meeting reasonable parental expectations).

Self-reliance boosts emotional development, and reduces their resentment and sense of entitlement. As parents, we want to try to duplicate (for the child) how the real world operates, because one day soon, they will be out in the real world and will need to be prepared for it.

In the real world -- as an adult – one has daily chores or tasks that must be performed. In the real world, one has to wait on himself (unless he is at a restaurant, but even then he pays for service in the form of a tip).

When we make things too comfortable for our teens, they come to expect this kind of treatment from others when they leave the nest and enter the world. Unfortunately, they often find themselves in a form of culture shock when they realize that other people do not treat them the same way good old mom and dad did. Now they have to play “catch up” (i.e., develop social skills they never developed as a teen because they were overly dependent on the parent).

Whenever you are undecided about what to do with your child, always ask yourself the following questions: “Will the action that I’m about take with my child inhibit the development of self-reliance, or will it promote the development of self-reliance.” If it promotes development, then it’s a good decision. If not, it’s a disservice to the child that will cause problems for him in the future.

Good question,

Mark Hutten, M.A.

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