Homework or Chores?

Parents need to have better communication with their teenagers if they wish for them to help around the house. - photograph by peapod labs via Flickr - Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

BY GABRIELLE SCHINKEL

There are many days -mainly during sports seasons- when I come home and already am stressing about how late I will be up getting ready for bed and doing my homework.  Some days I have a ton of time, others barely a minute.  Then my mom will tell me to do the laundry or bring out the trash.  Obviously, I cannot say no but then I twonder why she couldn’t ask me this before I went to practice or if she sees all the homework I am doing.  Most parents today are not taking the time to communicate with their children about chores to not make their teenagers even more stressed.  It seems like they would rather have their teenager wash the dishes instead of working on homework.  If parents wish for their teenagers to help out with chores, they need to relate and interact with them instead of commanding them.

Before parents order their teenager to help with a huge lift of chores, they need to look back on their feelings of chores when they were kids.   “Many parents just don’t understand why cleaning house has to be such a big deal, ” writes freelance writer and editor R. Morgan Griffith, in his article “How Can You Raise a Clean Teen?”,   Teenagers are reaching adulthood and they want independence.  Parents need to give them freedom but also some responsibility.  They should be doing their own laundry and cleaning up after themselves.  When it comes to extra chores, however, parents should put themselves in their child’s shoes.  Parents should think about what they thought of chores when they were teenagers.  Most parents probably felt a lot of pressure as a kid and it’s easy for them to do the same for their children.  They should think if their child’s feelings relate to their childhood.  If parents don’t do this, their teenager may feel somewhat of unfairness.

If parents wish for their teenager to do chores, they first need to review their teens’s schedule because sometimes teenagers literally have no time.  According to Lisa A. Flam, an independent journalist who writes for the Associated Press, ¨Parents feel resentful if their kids do not help… yet many worry about adding housework to their children’s burden, already so heavy with school, sports and other activities that many do not get enough sleep.¨   

Teenagers today have so many things on their to-do list and chores are just another thing.  Parents sometimes care more about chores than they do about homework or sports.  Parents need to talk with their child and assign chores on days when they have spare time instead of days where they are most likely getting no sleep.  Parents should to take their teen’s schedule  into consideration because if not, their child will always be stressed and have anxiety.  

In her article “Chore Schedule Strategies”  in the Huffington Post, Grace Saunders makes some suggestions to parents  who are trying to get their teens to do chores around the house. ¨You need to make sure both you and your children are clear on when you expect them to get chores done and how much they can complete.¨  Most teenagers have no time during the week but some free time on the weekends.  If this is true, no parent should be ordering their child to wash dishes if they just got home from practice and have a crazy amount of homework.  The child should have a deadline for chores so they can space out their schedule and not have everything to do at the same time.

Saunders also suggests that parents should add rewards depending on the situation because that is what motivates teenagers. “Accountability should not only happen to make sure chores get done but also to reward positive behavior.”  That’s not to say if a teenager simply brings up the laundry, they deserve twenty bucks.  However, if a teen is constantly doing something extra and has stayed on top of their chore list, there should be a reward.  

In addition, more teenagers will do a chore if there is a prize involved.  For example, if a parent says to their teenager that they can go to the movies if they do the dishes for a week, the teenager will most likely take that offer.  However, if a parent is always telling their children to help out around the house and is never giving them money or taking them out to eat, they might start doing a sloppy job.  It’s hard to earn money as a teenager, so usually an average teen will not turn down money.  Completing chores should not be just for a pat on the back.

Parents should ask their teenagers to complete chores in a calm and nice way, rather than yell at them.  Genevieve, a proud mom and founder of the Peaceful Parent Institute, believes that ¨Respectful requests are motivating, helpful and supportive to kids.¨   Requests that are loud and angry can cause a child to feel stressed, pressurized, and rebellious.  Studies show that teenagers will cooperate and do chores much faster if the parent asks them in a respectful way.  A request such as ¨Wouldn’t it be a good idea to clean your room” instead of “Go clean your room now!” will most likely have a supportive answer instead of a whiny one.  Parents should also never tell their kids how they never help out around the house because that will only create a more burdening effect.

Parents need to have better communication with their teenagers if they wish for them to help around the house.  Teenagers mostly should have to help with chores, but parents also need to understand their children are not “clean teens” and need some freedom.  Teenagers should concentrate on being a teen, involvement in sports, and homework.  They shouldn’t also be stressing about washing the dishes.