Dad Versus Mom?

I’m in need of some real advice here and wanted to share my story.  Maybe some of you may have dealt with this issue in your family whether it was when you grew up or if you have children of your own.

Okay, enough prefacing already!

As I’ve written in Women Unplugged before, my son is 18-years-old, graduating high school in June, has sort-of plans to go to a junior college in September, doesn’t want to look for a job, doesn’t like to do chores, and expects us to still pick up the tab for everything he does with his friends just because we’re his mom and dad and that’s what moms and dads DO.

So, I read a book about what teens are like.  It wasn’t an advice book, but rather a study in what to expect.  The name of it is Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me and Cheryl to the Mall: A Parent’s Guide to the New Teenager.  The author doesn’t tell you how to handle your teen, but tells you what he might act like during the teen years.  But the thing that struck me the most out of the entire book is when he says that instead of withholding things that you do for your kid when he’s acting creepy, you show him through your example that you’ll do things for him anyway because you love him unconditionally, without expecting anything in return. Therefore, you’re teaching him the value of kindness and giving and love with NO conditions of wanting something in return.

When I do a good deed for a stranger, I don’t expect that individual to do something for me in return, do I?  No, I don’t, because I’ll never see them again in my whole life.  I just DO it. So his suggestion is to do the same for your kids in order to teach them love and kindness no matter what, true unconditional love. Therefore, when Dylan turns into his creepy self, instead of taking things away from him and cutting him off at the knees with regard to money, I lecture him on his selfishness and attitude of entitlement, and then continue doing his wash, feeding him, driving him to school, and the like.

Now, my husband doesn’t work this way.  He takes things away and cuts Dylan off financially because of Dylan’s crappy attitude.  And this morning Dylan informed me that he’s no longer going to do chores because Dad has taught him that dangling the dollar in front of his face is the only reason Dylan is supposed to help out around here.  He wants to “prove a point” to his father.

So what does one do in this situation?  I lecture him about our family being like a basketball team, which he can totally relate to, and that we have to work together no matter whether we get paid for it or not.  And now “I” have to do Dylan’s chores because he’s trying to prove a point to Dad?  Dylan asks why should he do chores if he’s not getting paid for it because Dad says if you’re going to behave like a creep I’m not paying for anything any more?

AACK!  What do I do?

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Posted on May 18, 2012, in Blog Posts and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. Patti, I think it’s like everything else in the world, there’s no one answer that’s going to fix everything. When our boys were younger, they had to help out with chores every day of the week. Both my husband and I worked outside of the home, so we couldn’t/wouldn’t do everything for them. We aimed for a constant give and take between the four of us. Sometimes they had to put in more effort and sometimes we let them slack.

    But at 18, everything changes. Suddenly, they think because they’re adults (in Alberta, 18 is the legal age for everything!), they don’t have to contribute to the household in any way, shape or form. I remember one of my boys telling us that he worked full time, so he was too tired to “help out” around the house … and considering he didn’t pay rent, he had no basis for his statement.

    So I think this changing attitude is probably universal at that age. They’re spreading their wings and they need some space to do so. However, if they’re 18, not going to help around the house (for free, btw, especially if their room and board is free), then they better get out and get a job.

    We tried not to spoil our kids. We weren’t over-generous with their allowance, made them return 10% of their allowance to us so we could put it away for their retirement, saved the spoiling for their birthday, Christmas, graduations. And yet, they still developed the attitude you’ve described above.

    I say, tell him to get a job or his job becomes cooking and cleaning around the house to pay for his room and board. (actually, we used that on one of our boys when he was between jobs, LOL!) And then, don’t sweat it and tell your husband not to sweat it either. Your son will grow past this in a couple or three years.

    And good luck! Fortunately, these kids grow into nice adults who are considerate and kind. Someday you’ll see that. 🙂

  2. Christy Hayes

    Wow, Patti. I think we are all heading in that direction with the way society is going. I agree with Sheila–tell him he has to do chores in order to live for free at home if he doesn’t want to get a job. They call it tough love for a reason, because it’s tough. I feel for you as I will probably have similar struggles as my kids age.

    • Yeah, I agree with you, Christy. I try to tell him that we are a family, a team, and we all live here together and have to help each other out. The self-centeredness is something I find hard to stomach!

  3. Okay, let the old broad chime in here, Patti 🙂

    Been there, done that. My son resented that I spoiled my daughter, my daughter claims I was an enabler. My family jokes that I had to move 1,200 miles to get away from them. If I didn’t move they would not have left until they got married, or worse, my brother has one turning 50 who never got married and never left home.

    This business of unconditional love is poppycock amd balderdash and will give you both gray hairs. And guess what? He’ll still leave when he is of a mind.

    Stop reading about him. Stop talking to him. Instead, talk to your husband. Decide to be a united front. It doesn’t matter if he does or doesn’t do chores. Cut him off at the knees now while you still have a chance to even the odds.

    There are consequences for everything in life. His consequence for being spoiled is that he will have a harder time finding money to go out with friends. Unless he has to be at school, why are you obligated to drive him anywhere? Drive him to a job. Stop doing his laundry. The average boy won’t notice for about a month. They can actually dress from the piles on their floor. Close the door, spray the halls to get rid of the sweaty sock smell and dig in for the long haul. It can’t happen after one lecture session when they pretend to listen and you attempt to relate. You don’t have to relate.

    Both you and your husband worked hard for what you got and if he doesn’t see it yet, don’t wait for him to grow out of it. Kick his ass. If he whines, give him that famous line, “If you want sympathy its between shit and syphlis in the dictionary.”

    Get tough and only do what you “feel” like doing. Then all of you can at least do what you feel like. He doesn’t feel like paying the consequences, maybe you and your husband don’t “feel” like driving him to the mall.

    You have only one chance to nip this in the bud and that is to sit down … not with your son … but with your mate. He’s the only man of the house. Men work … children play. If your son wants to be a man, let him start acting like one.

    One more thing for you and your husband … don’t let him bait either of you. Tell you husband that your son no longer has to do chores. Tell your son you no longer have to wash his clothes and cook his meals … and both of you go watch TV, have a coke and a smile.

    Good luck and whatever you do … don’t let him see you sweat.

  4. I’m printing out Florence’s post and putting it on my fridge right next to my sign: Attention Teenagers: No is a complete sentence.

  5. That’s a tough one. I agree you cannot support this behavior but for our household, we try to tie it back to the child. These are the things you do as a member of this household. You recieve allowance as a member of this family. It’s our way of teaching them how to handle money.

    For behavior issues, we try to utilize behavior modification principles, ie. you may do this and this will happen, or you may do that and that will happen. End of story. One choice is what you WANT to happen, the other hits the child’s hot button and makes their life “unpleasant” from THEIR standpoint.

    And my husband agrees with Florence — sometimes a boy just needs to be shown who’s boss by his father — and in NO uncertain terms. 🙂

    • I like the “if you do this, then that will happen” way of thinking but at 18, short of telling him to get out of the house, he’s become rather lax about obeying some of our commands! We say, no friends over, and then he has them over. I confront him and he says, yeah, well.

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