How can I make my family understand me? How can I get my wife to understand that we are only doing the kids some injustices by shielding them from house chores?
I am a nineteen year veteran in the US Navy. This means I leave home a lot and hence, rules of the house tend to be mostly inconsistent. My problem is that I am often at odds with the rest of the family - my wife and two teenagers - on how to deal with the kids conduct. I have insisted that both kids participate in house chores, like cleaning the house while my wife wants to hire a cleaning service (for $60.00 a visit) to come once a month to do the chores. Mind you, we are in no way rich. The last time I called, I asked my son (18 yrs) as to why he wasn't helping his mom clean the house. His answer was that the house looked clean to him. I asked my daughter the same question but my wife defends the kids, stating that I tend to treat everyone in the house as if they were one of my troops. How can I get her to understand that we are only doing the kids some injustices by shielding them from house chores? I don't want my two grown children (18 & 14) to grow up and not know how to keep their areas of responsibility clean. I already see young Sailors at my current command that might have came up the same way. And mind you, we have two little dogs that shed their furs all over the rugs in our house. No one notices it until I come home and start racking up furs from the floor. What can I do to make them understand? I have already put my wife on notice that this lifestyle could result in my separation from the family.
Bottom line is that you and your wife need to be on the same page with your discipline and parenting...no matter what the ages of the children. This starts with you and your wife getting your marriage and relationship back on track so you can both communicate your needs and both feel like you are heard and respected. In many instances the solution is finding a middle ground with your approach to discipline in which both you and your wife can feel good about.
Try asking your wife out for coffee or lunch to calmly discuss your concerns. If this does not help, please consider going to a Marriage and Family Therapist for assistance. The longer your children see you and your wife on opposite sides, they more will continue to take advantage of the situation. When they start to see you and your wife as a united front, they will start to respect both of you as parents. The therapist will want to include your children in the therapy at some point in the process.
If you have more questions or want to talk about what you are going through, please call our toll-free Hotline and speak with one of our counselors. We are here 24 hours every day for parents and families in many different situations. You don't have to go through this alone...we are here to help!
Take care and best wishes,
Boys Town National Hotline
Sorry to hear about your family struggle. I agree with you that children should have responsibilities. In fact, they should be taught responsibility from a very early age, so that they learn to understand that they play an important role in the family (and later on in life, in the society).
Children should have age-apropriate chores, and there should be consequences for not keeping up with their responsibilities. The key is to be consistent. In your case, before you approach consistency, you have to reach an agreement with your wife as to how you'll teach your youngsters responsibility.
Some people do not mind mess,; they don't see it. Therefore, as you noticed, appeals to tidiness will be futile. Try to approach the discussion form a health point. It is well known that 90% of dust consists of dust mite excrements. If somebody is not allergic to it, over time with consistent exposure, he or she may develop a dust allergy. Same goes with pets and their dandruff/hair. If your family already suffers allergies, keeping the house clean will improve their quality of life. Try to find what benefit will your family have form keeping the house clean (it must be something that is important to them) and use it as your approach.