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Advice | Carolyn Hax: Teenagers have chores but don’t seem to be aware of them


Adapted from an online discussion.

Dear Caroline: I know it’s normal, but do you have any tips for dealing with teenagers’ utter complacency and their lack of awareness of the needs of the household? They have chores, but they seem oblivious.

Anonymously: I apparently write questions to myself in my sleep.

This is what I have so far:

1. Remind yourself (or someone you knew well) at that age before saying, doing, or correcting anything.

2. Every chance you get, squint a little so you can see who they’ll become once they’re out of this selfish cocoon. The one they need to be into, by the way, to figure out who they are and how to be adults guided by their own values ​​versus your voice in their head 24/7. Which you really don’t want, no matter how much you think you’re doing it in your moments of worry relatedness.

3. When you get tired of that, squint to see the little people they used to be. Or stop squinting and look at some old photos, because you probably still have hundreds of them on your phone, because you plan on editing them when you retire or thereabouts. Or peer at the photos because you can’t find any of your 17 pairs of drugstore readers.

4. Keep your sense of humor. If you lose it, find it. In fact, ask them if they know where it is, then laugh at your own joke and watch them look at you like you’re crazy.

5. Asking them to do a chore again is better than them never doing chores.

6. If they still don’t want to do it, ask them (nicely) to name the person who would like to do it for them.

7. Gaze at a dim sky, the endless shore, the receding view, the inside from palm to forehead. Everything is temporary.

· The short-term answer is: “It depends on the chores.” If it’s their room or laundry, just close the door and don’t look, and let the dirty clothes pile up. Honestly, grit your teeth and just do it. Family chores are harder. If it’s more than one child and electronic devices are the problem, wait until a convenient time for you and turn off Wi-Fi and tell it to turn back on when everyone is done. Other than that I have nothing.

· They also have to deal with their own concerns, which have been exacerbated by the pandemic as much as any adult’s. So try to communicate with them as directly as you would any other adult. They may surprise you. Sometimes. They shouldn’t either.

· You make them a full part of family life when they are small. Farm children, and many children of single parents, grow up knowing that they must take on certain responsibilities; they have to set the table, because the farmer has to feed the animals, and a few years later they have to feed the animals. Or the eldest in a single-parent family has to receive a brother or sister so that the parent can have dinner.

· “If you don’t do your chores, the next time I see your friends I’m going to talk to them about current events.” Nothing is more motivating for teens than shyness, and nothing is more embarrassing than being a parent.

· The best day of my life was when my kids emptied the dishwasher because it had to be done.

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