Sunday, November 2, 2008

Parents of Teens: UNITE!

Okay, it's been a busy weekend of Halloween activities, taking naps (mom), setting off the security alarm at church, taking more naps (mom), doing laundry, soccer games, going to church, etc. You get the idea. A nice quiet weekend. At one point, Katie accused us of being boring because we were happily watching sports and/or reading a book. Gasp! A book. She said she would not be boring when she is older. :-)

Let me preface this by saying that I have great kids. They do step up to the plate when really needed. They can take the little ones to play while I take care of something else. Or, they willingly assist with cleaning things (without complaining----a key component) especially when Dave is out of the country.

But tonight, I lost my patience. I need help from all you parents of teens. I know you are out there! So please join in the conversation.

When I was growing up, we had a job chart on our refrigerator. I thought it was dumb and very embarassing to anyone who came by the house. But it dictated what our daily chores were as well as the ones to be completed on Saturday before going anywhere. These jobs ranged from setting/clearing the table and loading the dishwasher to cleaning bathrooms or washing the kitchen floor.

I have found it's very hard to continue this sort of thing with our lives right now. Maybe it's because we aren't always home together at dinnertime/Saturdays due to sports or music lessons. Or maybe it's because sometimes it's just easier to do it myself to be sure it's done right (and I get some peace and quiet). Or maybe it's because I want to be the nice mom. Or maybe it's because I want them to be able to sleep late on the weekends because we were never able to---not that I could anyhow.

I feel like when I ask them to clean up after dinner (wash the dishes, put away the left-overs, clean the counter, etc) it's like asking them to cut off their right arm. Not always, but sometimes. Or, I have to keep calling them back to do the job right. Then I start hearing mutters of "Why do we have to do everything" to "Stop yelling at me" to "Geesh, what now?" Or, if I tell them to clean their rooms, it's a battle to get it "mom approved".

I KNOW for a fact I did the same thing as a kid. I know I did. I was a very mouthy and sassy teenager. I am thankful that mine are not as bad as I was (knock on LOTS of wood).

What do you think has caused this kind of mentality? Is it just teens being teens? Is it us being more permissive than in years past? (note: my kids would say we are very strict compared to their friends) Is it the "I am entitled" mentality creeping in?

Or is it the simple things like our lives are too busy; we aren't together enough anymore as a cohesive unit; we can't enforce a "do chores before seeing friends" on a Saturday because half the day is spent at sporting events?

What are we teaching our kids? Will they know how to keep a room clean? Will they be able to really clean a bathroom? Cooking? Well, I'm no Martha Stewart so they are on their own there! But, I want them to leave me knowing the basics.

Do we need to take away the cell phones, computer use, cable TV, and convenience foods? Return to the basics? I know I would not survive. I have to have my phone to keep in touch with the kids. Having a driver makes me very anxious. In fact, that driver was mad at me tonight when she headed out to see her boyfriend (another issue--it's a school night!!) so I was worried about her driving recklessly because she was mad at me. No computer? I'd go nuts. TV? Who cares? I don't watch it anyhow anymore. Convenience foods? That's dinner.

How do we fix this generation? Or is it just my house that's messed up? Please don't let me think that! Come on all you parents of teens!! Lurkers, please join in. What are we doing wrong? How can you help me overcome these issues?


Denise said...

Well, you KNOW I fight this battle too. Remember the Cinderella post? Our team captain assignments work when everyone is here-- one or two nights a week. Then I end up getting a job and then finishing everyone else's.

I'm struggling to find time to write my book so I sat down with all the kids today and said "From this point on my book is considered my part time job and you all have to take up the slack." Whether it will happen or not, I don't know but I DO know that starting this Thursday Trace is watching the babies in the morning while I go to Starbucks to write, well and MAYBE get a Grande nonfat, no whip Mocha.

day by day said...

If you get any good suggestions...please send them my way. I get so frustrated by the lack of help with chores around the house. ugh! Sometimes I password protect the computer or threaten...but nothing seems to work good for long without me pestering and I should not have to do that. Sooo frustrating!

Shari U said...

Oh my, it's the same way at my house. I think, as parents we've lowered our expectations and we care too much about their feelings. My oldest daughter is 21 and away at college living in an apartment. She keeps her apartment absolutely spotlessly clean and complains to me about her roommates being slobs. When I go visit her I have to be very careful about where I put my stuff or how I make my bed because she WILL correct if something isn't exactly right. It gives me great hope to know that she really did learn to clean while she lived here and that she really does care, she just doesn't care if my house is clean. Now, my college age son, also away....I'm quite sure he doesn't understand the concept of cleaning at all. Although, anytime I ask him to do something when he's home, he jumps and does it right now. He empties the trash when he sees it full and is all around very helpful. I do have to go re-make the bed after he leaves. The 16 year old will help if he can remember 5 seconds later what I just asked him to do and the little one, at 5 years old, is a cleaning champ, always looking for something to help with. In fact, her favorite cleaning product is "Cleandex" (others know this product as "Windex").

Fliss and Mike Adventures said...

My nephew is SO lazy... doesn't want to do anything or help clean anything... best of luck with getting things done...

Mei Mei Journal said...

I have started confiscating cell phomnes from 7 pm to 7 am in an attempt to increase teen productivity at our house.

Blessed Mom of Four, Now Five said...

OH my, Kristin, so many of us can totally relate.
I, too, have such good teenagers, but it is hard to ask certain things when they are so busy. One doesn't come in from football practice until late, and he is so tired. But, if I ask the other son to do more, he gets upset.
My college aged girl works part time and attends classes--hard to ask a lot of her, too.

I am TOTALLY, though, thinking about a chore chart, too. I did this when I had only 2 kids--not 5!- and it worked. I don't know why I stopped.

I think I'm not as organized as I was before either. To make the chart, I'll have to stop and think through our entire week, who's home when.....I'm glad you brought this up..I think I might work on one at lunch today.

I'd love to know if you get more good ideas.


Julie said...

I have no good advice and I am SCARED of having 2 girls in puberty at the same time! Can we hold hands when your 2 and my 2 start this process! Or perhaps a big bottle of valium and an even bigger bottle of wine!

wingepr said...

Oh you are for sure NOT alone here at all. I thought it was just me.

As a child my mother would never let me sleep in, not sure why, and I did most of the cleaning while at home. I have always let my boys sleep in.

Should be interesting having a girl in the house, however, the DH tells me that she is HIGH MAINTENANCE!


Kim said...

I'm with you all the way! I think I've tried everything to get my kids to help out but I always seem to get the worst reaction from them. Now that two are away at college I have noticed a difference when they come home. Much more willing to help out and actually seemed okay with helping out. I think once they get on their own they start to realize life at home wasn't so bad.

I'll be checking back to see what others have to say about suggestions because I could use a few for my 15 & 3 yr. olds. Just know your not alone.