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Communication and behaviour. Getting the right balance?(21 Posts)
I'm sure this isn't a new issue and has been much discussed but I could really do with a gentle bit of guidance here. By way of background I have 2 teenage DCs and 1x 20 yr old (uni, but back home at the mo). There's another 2 DC but don't have an issue with them and don't want to give away too much identifying info etc. I also have MS and whilst I'm active and able I do struggle with fatigue and some mild mobility problems.
The issue with the teens and 20 yr old is that I've probably been too friendly with them. I ask them to do things, they don't get done, I've asked nicely, still not done. I'll ask again framed as a reminder that thing still needs doing, still not done. I then either lose it and do it myself (makes me stressed and more tired so MS worse) or I'll keep quiet which inevitably turns into a sulk and kids equally sulk in bedrooms and hide. Therefore nothing ever gets done.
I have tried sitting down and talking rationally about the help I need. I've done rotas (created more bickering). We have a cleaner which is a help in general hoovering etc but I just need to suss out how to get DCs to listen to me. I hate conflict but I am not afraid to speak up. I can't find the middle ground between asking nicely (again and again) and losing my rag. DH hides from the problem although I have asked many times for back up on this.
Is this just the way it is? I will appreciate any support, please be gentle with me. Feeling awful as currently we are all in a sulking phase and I don't feel physically well.... Thanks!!!
Not too dull. TBH it sounds like normal teenage behaviour. I think you need to set down rules and stick to them. Only you know what rules will work for your household. It might be no dinner until the vacuuming has been done, no lift into town until the bathroom has been cleaned, WiFi turned off until the dog has been walked etc etc.
You set the rule and you stick to it. My guess is that they are not being deliberately lazy or uncaring, they are just thoughtless like most teenagers. They don't really see the cause/effect or responsibility.
Pick the 3 things that bother you the most, give each of the 3 a task with a consequence and rotate if needed.
Ok, when my teens behaved like this (they are early 20s now), I stopped doing things for them.
No laundry, no cooking, no driving them to/from activities, friends etc. No phones because we were paying the bills, .......
They lasted about 2 days before promising to step up and do their share. For good measure I kept it up for another couple of days, & made them do their laundry before resuming normal mum service.
And in addition to the jobs they were supposed to do, I added in that they had to cook a meal for the family once a week.
And throughout it all, I didn't argue, I didn't shout, I just left them to get on with it. 😄
I agree that teenagers tend to be thoughtless.
My suggestion would be to tell them that you need x doing by a particular time. If they're like mine they probably intend to do stuff but don't see any reason to do it until 'later'.
There's a photo that does the rounds on FB occasionally, of a note from a mother of teenagers saying something like:
When you've done the following jobs
You may have today's wifi password.
This is something I mean to try with my teens, I ink it might be effective!
Another thought - would it be practical to ask them to take responsibility for their own laundry and lunch in the school/uni holidays?
And another thought - apologies if you do this already - but do you thank them and praise them when they do help?
Great suggestions all, thank you.
I agree with the above poster about not shouting etc. I really like my children and get on well with them, it's a good balance WHEN they respect me. You're right, they don't mean to be thoughtless.
I have thought about the kids doing dinner one night - good idea, will put that into practice. Also, like the withdrawal of services. All low stress tactics. I will keep the wifi password up my sleeve but realise that I showed two of the DCs how to fiddle with the settings.
To add...I got them all a laundry basket for their rooms and told them to deal with their laundry but they let it pile up and I have to chase them for it. Then it's left by the machine, then I have to ask, ask again and inevitably I just do the washing. If they do get wash on they leave it in the machine for a day so I have to empty it so I can do other washing. You know how it goes on. Managing them is almost as hard work as just doing the jobs!
But I'm grateful for your replies! Thanks
My teens do their own laundry. If it piles up that is their problem. They are the ones that will end up with no clean pants. If they leave it in the machine for a day then I might put it all in the tumble (but don't tend to check through it - one shrunk jumper usually stops that) or simply put a basket full of wet washing back in their rooms.
To my mind that isn't just them helping me, it is life training.
I knew a widower with 2 teenage sons... he worked all day & they cooked dinner each weekday night. It was their deal how the house was run, & because it was a very daily job, they just go on with it. Their help was easier to get precisely because it was exactly the same job at same time that needed doing. So it was routine, and nobody had to rely on teenage inability to do ad hoc planning. Problem with laundry, it's ad hoc.
The Dad also rounded them up for DIY & some cleaning jobs (cleaning was done on a routine, too, so everyone knew what to expect).
Mind you, DH (mostly SAHD) had a row other day with DD about jobs... wifi password held hostage. After a bit of shouting Dd is now just doing what he asks. I'm glad DH held his ground.
Lose it or do it yourself. That's the problem.
You lose it. It probably doesn't last very long. Kids think "mums being stroppy" Then they ignore you.
You do it yourself. Kids think "fantastic. See I don't need to do as I'm asked. Leave it long enough and she will do it!"
Calm consequences are your friend. Want a lift tonight? Tidy your room? Want clean clothes? Put them in the wash. Want dinner tomorrow? Put plates away.
That's it. I do want the house to be calm, all of us getting on. I know that losing it is no use at all!! I have realised that being straight and just asking for the job is going to be better. DH asks if they can 'see if they can try and help Mum bit' which is way to vague.
I will keep calm and retain control - over the jobs and my mood and well being.
I like the routine thing too. Yes, ad hoc house work is too advanced. Simple rules like hanging up your towel, bath mat need training so they become habits. All seems so patronising but needs must.
Rogue, thanks for your post. I do all the pleases and thank yous. I also ask nicely and calmly without jumping on the DCs expecting anything done ASAP. I tend to give them the job and a timescale eg please strip your bed so it can be washed, hung out and dry by tonight.
I think you might need to stop worrying about whether or not they have clean sheets. Make it clear that if they want clean sheets then they do it themselves. You wash your sheets and make your bed (and any younger DCs obviously).
Spot on French Fancy, you're right there.
In fact I have successfully not cooked any dinner tonight. They were all skulking in their rooms all afternoon and early evening so I made a skirt and cooked eggs for me. Don't know what they've all eaten. I'm now in bed having an early night.
At the moment my children will all do basic jobs when asked directly, but more "difficult" things like helping load or unload the dishwasher, feed the cats, clear the table, tidy your room, pick up your stuff is often met with being ignored.
My daughter (16) had two part time jobs (two because there's very few shifts between the two) and one of them is in a play cafe. I took her younger brothers there one of the days she was working and when we all left I said it had been nice to see how much she did and wished she would do some of it at home. Her reply was that she doesn't get paid to do it at home, if I paid her, she would do it. I then said, oh right, so I get to do it for nothing, perhaps I should stop and only do it if you pay me. Her response was that I was a parent and it was a parent's job to do these things for nothing. My response of "no it's a parent's job to raise you, not to do everything for you" fell on deaf ears.
It is a struggle. Mine have to help after dinner every day - one does the washing up and one does the tidying. They bicker sometimes about whose turn it is but generally its accepted and we turn up the music, banter and mess about a bit. Its just part of the routine and I enjoy it. Sometimes I just sit there but most times I pitch in a bit too.
Other things - I need to work on. They are not good at clearing up mugs and plates etc, food/sweet wrappers etc, their rooms. Occasionally they empty the dishwasher but never do their washing or putting it away without heavy prompting, nagging. Sometimes I do get angry - and then they do it.
But sometimes I say I will come and help - like tidying the bedroom, emptying the suitcase and sorting out washing and that helps. We get a bit of chit chat too. So I'm trying to vary methods but I'm going to try and establish more routines re, washing and the dishwasher now as DD is 16 and starting 6th form so she needs to take more responsibility and for when she's off to college. Also, as I'm setting up bank accounts and direct debit pocket money (a bit late I know) so I'm going to use this to make a deal on help around the house.
Its all perfectly normal I think. Teens are naturally indolent.