But, I am really not asking for that much.
Do you feel you are asking too much? Parents around the globe inevitably end with this statement when their child scoffs at their request to help with chores. And, usually, the parent proceeds to complete the task they asked their child to do. The inner or outer monologue continues in one rendition or another, “I give you everything you ever ask and ALL I ask of you is [insert chore] and you NEVER do it.” Or, “When I was your age, I had to wake up at 4 am, mow the lawn, do the dishes, study for school, and walk home in the snow… in Florida. You have everything you want that I never dreamed of on a silver platter.”
A bit facetious, but I bet you’re wondering if I’m eavesdropping on your morning routines. What is it about the “woe is me” monologue we love to recite to our kids when it comes to chores? Like if they don’t empty the dishwasher, we will wither up and dry? Or, on the other extreme of it, we become this Tony Montana persona “you owe me and you better pay your dues or else”? If they don’t take out the trash then all of their treasured belongings will be picked up and thrown away with their favorite treats never to be seen again.
Where does it say to do that in the parenting manual?
What we say speaks louder about our own inner BS (belief system, gotcha!) than our kid’s abilities to complete tasks. I want you to think for a moment, how do you really truly deep down in your gut feel about asking for help? When you were growing up, what messages did you receive about helping and completing chores around the house? These beliefs inevitably shape the messages you send your kids when it comes to completing tasks. What about your beliefs about keeping your child happy? Because the moment you ask (not even request) for a chore to be done and your child objects, the thought pops up, “Well if it doesn’t make them happy, then I guess they don’t have to do it.”
So now what? Change your belief systems. Wow, if there is anything this year has taught it’s that our beliefs must be malleable. For the virtual schooling parents, we thought that having the kids at home 24/7 ended the day they entered daycare. Never did we think we would have them around this much after the age of three or four? Not that we don’t like our kids, but having them home all the time increases the dishes, clothes, toys, and mess everywhere. Even if they go to school, what happened to the mentality that each household is a micro-community and everyone has to carry the weight of living in it? There is no threat or guilt trip there, it’s a fact. I share with parents who struggle with this how teachers enlist the help of each and every student regardless of grade to pitch in and keep the classroom tidy. There is an expectation that each student has a role in this and each student complies. It’s not about the Dojo point or sticker chart. There is an inherent reward in contributing to the group that they feel good about it! If your child can be the table wiper or the sweeper in class, they can do the same at home. That is not asking too much. If you struggle with this, reach out for help, (it’s ok to ask!). You don’t need to be a damsel in distress or a mafioso to get your kid’s cooperation at home.