2. Consider the outlook that the residence belongs to everyone, so we do things for each other out of love and consideration.
This isn’t only about household jobs of course, it’s about a way of life. We help each other out. This is about teaching a value system. If both mother and father work and get home at six, kids who love them might have the table set already for dinner. This is done out of love, not out of necessity. It’s a whole different outlook.
If your teenager is going through exams and waiting for college application results, offer to organize her room for her (if she wants it). This is done out of love and consideration for the pressures on her, not out of necessity. That’s a whole different outlook.
3. Have a family discussion and come up with what each person really cares about in the house.
Remind everyone that each person is entitled to an opinion and everyone can be satisfied if each family member is heard out. No interrupting. Each person finishes what they have to say.
– The only thing everyone must agree on is caring about each other and flexibility. Ask who would like to volunteer to do what because it matters to them. Volunteering is a whole new concept.
– This may result in some people doing more of the work because they care more or are better at it.
– This may result in a parent and child doing something together so they get time with each other that otherwise wouldn’t occur or because the child wants to learn a new skill. For example, if a teen wants to do her own laundry, she may not do it exactly as her mother teaches her. She does it her way. She has respect for the machine. Her clothes are available when she wants and her mother doesn’t have to bear the responsibility any more. Totally new outlook.
Such family discussions may at first happen once a week until they become a new way of life. Eventually, chores or jobs or house care or whatever it’s called becomes the family’s way of doing things together because they care about themselves and each other.
Laurie Hollman, Ph.D. is a psychoanalyst with an upcoming book, Unlocking Parental Intelligence: Finding Meaning in Your Child’s Behavior, to be released October 13, 2015.