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Thursday, April 8, 2010

Mean Parenting.

The look on her face when I asked her to put her clothes away was a killer.

The attitude oozed off of her like steam. And my patience wore thin.

"We always do chores." She complained and I started making a list in my mind of all the things I had done all day.

When she saw the stack of thank you notes at the table, I could see that I had really struck a nerve. But two weeks after the big party, they are overdue.

She sits at the table sighing and slumping and I am growing frustrated but remain quiet.

She finished the task and it's time for dinner and again I've struck out because she had no free time today between homework and putting clothes away and thank you notes. It seems I have stolen her day and it's all my fault.

Today it was the clothes but yesterday it was emptying the dishwasher. Two weeks ago, she says in a tone, it was sweeping the kitchen and remember that time you made me take out the recycling.

And don't even get me started on her friends. They don't do chores and if by chance they do, their parents pay them. Per chore. According to her that is.

I am in awe and completely miffed. Don't we all as parents think we had it much rougher and tougher than our kids do? And she's complaining?

My job, I told her, is to be your parent.

Chores are a part of this family. Sometimes that's putting your clothes away. Sometimes that's setting the table. Sometimes they're big. Sometimes they're small. But we all help each other here.

And someday we hope that these kids have picked up a thing or two about making their beds and picking up their rooms and when they've got their own places {something M tells us will never happen for her} they'll know how to take care of themselves.

Aren't we supposed to be teachers? Teaching them how to do these self-help and life skills, like chores?

I'd be game for allowance, but that's not what's being asked. I'm being asked for a handout.

Reward me. Praise me. Spoil me 'til your blue in the face.

I don't want to, I hear, all day long. Chores. Homework. Dentist/Doctor visits.

It's rough to be a kid these days.

She's finishing her thank you's and asks me a question. I know why she's asking and I'm pretty sure she knows the answer all the same. What do I think about her getting a present when she got her immunizations a couple weeks back at the doctor?

T laughed. And laughed. And laughed. And after I picked myself up off the floor, I told her that I think that there are hundreds and thousands of children in this world who don't have health care, who can't go to the doctor when they're sick, let alone when they are healthy. That there are children born with disease, such as in Africa and Aids that don't even have a chance at life.

That I think it's pretty ridiculous.

My present to my kids when they go to the doctor, or get medicine or to the dentist for a cleaning is their health. Keeping them healthy is my gift to them.

I sit and shake my head at how spoiled this family of ours is. Two of our kids have not just one, but two beautiful homes with more clothes and toys and things than they need and then some.

All six of us have three meals a day and before our stomachs even rumble with hunger we are filled with snacks or drinks beyond necessity.

We can go to the doctor or the dentist and get medicine whenever we need without worry.

Our cars run and we fill them with gas whenever we need.

I could go on and on and on about the good things we have going that make doing chores and regular doctors visits blessings in comparison to some of the bigger world issues.

At the end of the day, these things matter.

Do my kids know that I love them?
Were their needs met?
Am I teaching them how to be a steward of their resources and things and teaching them the life skills they need {age-appropriately}?

If so, I am doing my job as parent.

There's another story on mean parenting, er, I mean teaching responsibility, over at Cribsheet today, too. Must be something in the air these days! Go take a peak.


Blogger amanda said...

i am just going to say amen and leave it at that :)

April 8, 2010 at 1:30 PM  
Blogger darcie said...

I wish more parents stuck to their guns. (Myself included) I often ask my kids to pick things up after I have done it for the umpteenth time that day...and when they don't - I do. Because it's just easier sometimes...or is it?
It's on my 'to do' list - getting help with the to-do's. I think the world becomes a better place - for ALL of us - when we teach & preach responsibility like you are with M and your other 3!
Great Job Mama...All kids could be so lucky to have you as their mom. And one day, she will realize it. I promise.

April 8, 2010 at 1:31 PM  
Blogger LutherLiz said...

yes. My mom was a "mean" parent and I plan to be too. How else do you learn balance, responsibility and accountability.

April 8, 2010 at 1:32 PM  
OpenID fritzfacts said...

I would much rather be a "mean" parent then a push over who is my childs best friend. We have chores daily in our house, Boo has some that she does every day no matter what and Hunter has some that he does when he is here (I do do them when he isn't, but really who wants a messy bathroom). During the summer they some EACH day that MUST be done before playing outside or video games or tv.

We don't give them an allowance. I refuse to pay them to help around the house, it is their house too.

I proudly say...I Am a Mean Mom!!!

April 8, 2010 at 1:37 PM  
Blogger Coma Girl said...

Good for you! You're teaching them a lesson. And it's a valuable one, whether she knows it now or not. I always tell my step-sons "you may not like cleaning your toilet now, but your future wife will thank me".

And from my experience when I hear "so and so doesn't have to do any chores" - that's usually a lie to make you feel like the worst parent ever. Because I have asked some parents and they tell me they do give chores. Unless they're lying too ;)

April 8, 2010 at 2:01 PM  
Blogger andreaberg said...

I think more parents need to be "mean". I am going to definitely going to be labeled "mean" and I think I already have. But if I haven't, I don't think I will have done my job. Being called "mean" means you have done your job and done it well. So good job!

April 8, 2010 at 2:12 PM  
Anonymous Kate-Madonna said...

I'm so proud of you for being THIS kind of parent. What do I mean by that? The kind of parent who cares more about her family working as a cohesive team than making everyone shiny and happy. Your children won't understand now- because you're helping them learn difficult lessons about self-responsibility and awareness, but someday? When they are parents they will thank you that you respected them enough to prepare their minds and hearts for the real world. I applaud you.

April 8, 2010 at 2:37 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

On behalf of teachers everywhere, I thank you for giving your children perspective and teaching them responsibility. Too many families today are depending on the schools do this!

April 8, 2010 at 10:28 PM  

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