This post has nothing to do with Germans or Germany, but it is just something I felt the need to write, as there are hundreds, if not thousands of people who are going through the same struggles with their teens in the western world.
Our goal is to raise independent, self-reliant, children with an ability to work. The goal of the modern teen is to avoid work as much as possible, because, after all, they are too “busy.”
Here are the top ten reasons why teens will not do the chore you have just asked them to do:
1. I am too tired.
2. I am too busy with some kind of fun project/hobby.
3. I have to go to the bathroom.
4. I have homework.
5. I need a snack.
6. I just want to finish watching my TV Show.
7. I am listening to a good song on my iPod
8. I just want to finish reading my book.
9. I just need a break.
10. I am not your slave.
Believe me, in the last two months, I have heard them all. And you wonder sometimes, what is going on? How can kids think this way? For example, the first excuse citing fatigue, NEWS FLASH – parents are tired, too! But we have to do our tasks anyways! We are “busy” doing the things we love, but we have to stop doing them and go to work anyways! We also need to use the bathroom, eat a snack and we would love to finish watching our TV Show, but we can’t because we have to get up, take care of business and do the things we have to do anyways.
As for doing something that we enjoy, since having kids, this is no longer something we can take for granted. We can occasionally enjoy music, read a book and if we struggle hard, we may get a bit of a break after the kids go to bed (which can be as late as 11 pm when you have teens in the house), but really the slave remark really gets to me. Who is really the slave? Good old mom and dad.
Then there also the weapons kids pull out when you push the buttons and actually “enforce” or “make” them do what they don’t want to do? They roll their eyes, stomp their feet, slam doors, throw things, yell at their siblings, accuse you of hating them… And the big one is “You are not treating me with respect.” They pull that one out whenever they realize they can no longer avoid doing that hated chore like scrub a toilet or take out the smelly compost.
As a mother you will feel a tremendous amount of guilt. Guilt for being in this position. Guilt for making your darling work too hard. Guilt for no longer being willing to do the things you do quietly behind the scenes without asking for help. And then along with guilt comes frustration. Watching your teen who doesn’t want to wash dishes take 30 minutes to clean 3 wooden spoons can drive you crazy. Or worse, when they spend 27 minutes telling you why they can’t do something that would take them 5 minutes to do, is just so typical.
So what is the solution to this issue? Maybe some moms can leave some creative ideas in the comments, but for us we have started by taking the iPod and the Nintendo away (or whatever device seems to be the issue). It didn’t really help around the chore issue, but we also got a notice from school suggesting that parents don’t allow any TV or electronics until the homework and any other work is done. The question is also what is a reasonable amount of work before they are “done.” One hour? Two hours?
If moms/dads who have had teens want to leave a helpful, encouraging note, that would be great! Thanks for listening.