When I think of the issue I need the most help with at this stage of parenting my children aged 13, 11, and 5, I think of chores. Specifically, I think of the dishes. I don’t mind doing the dishes; it’s calming sometimes, but it helps if there isn’t a ton. If the sink is full, I’m more likely to not want to do the dishes. I will wash what I need, then get upset after dinner that everything is dirty again. And then I go to bed because ain’t nobody got time to care about the dishes until the next morning when that someone has to wash something in order to use it. It’s a vicious cycle.
Chores and their importance to your family — the development and independence of your child and maintenance of your parental sanity — is just one of the topics covered by parenting expert, Dr. Deborah Gilboa (Dr. G, but I get to call her Debi. Please to be eyeing me jealously) in her book, Get the Behavior You Want…Without Being the Parent you Hate!
Let’s back up: I described her as a parenting expert. Early on in the book she explains that she is just that — an expert — on the four boys who live in her home. I am an expert on my children just as you are an expert on yours. Hers is a parenting guide with practical advice, not a preachy “you must do this because you’re singlehandedly ruining future generations.” Her suggestions are understandable, common sense methods to get kids to do what needs doing, even how to respond to the inevitable I ain’t doin’ that.
So, dishes. I created a chart (with colors!) that showed who was to do what on what day after we sat as a family and chose which days made sense for what task (nothing on Friday nights. I’m no monster). Since they were so excited about the chart, I thought there’d be no resistance if I had to remind them whose day it was to do what. To be clear, there are some things that are done daily: sweeping, clearing the table. There are also some things that I wish they’d do on their own, like empty a bathroom trash can when it’s full because come on, how do you not see that?
But then there are the things we chose days for like doing the dishes or folding laundry. In under a week I was gently reminding and then full on DO IT OR ELSE. And then? Then I got lazy and tired of needling and went back to doing it myself because I do it best and it’s easiest and IT’S DRIVING ME CRAZY.
Chores teach good lessons. Children learn to contribute and expect things from themselves in addition to those around them. And many hands make light work. Lighter work for you means more time to enjoy your family, and better parenting.
Dr. G gives the perfect advice about why I need to be consistent, too:
Chores teach children how a family works day to day. Doing chores protects them (and you) from the entitled attitude that everyone around them should make things happen for them without their own work.
What happens when your child doesn’t do something? Consequences. Stick with them. It pays off. Think of some beforehand. It works. Dr. G even advises on what to do if none of her suggestions work. That’s how effective the book is: she knows not everything will work in every family, for every child. And yet, she tackles that as well. Read chapter 59. You’ll thank me.
Think of the myriad things entailed in effective parenting. There are so many things we must cover, explain, teach, show our children before we should release them into the world to act as though they have no home training. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, kindness, sharing come to mind. What doesn’t usually come to mind, though, is seeking external ideas on how to handle these things. I may gripe to my friends and family about something parenting related, but I’m not necessarily expecting an answer. I assume I’ve tried everything they’d offer anyway. Desperate, I usually turn to a book. When you get to the bottom of your idea jar, where do you go? There are books on everything, but I guarantee you will not find one that will be as relatable and filled with usable suggestions as Dr. G’s guide to effective parenting. Even the layout is perfect: it’s not meant to be read cover to cover. Rather, you pick the section you need help with right then and bam! Ideas. Adapt as you need to, but at least you’ve gotten new ideas.
Discipline, resilience, kindness, responsibility. Dr. G covers these things and more. Got a stubborn toddler? She’s got you covered. Got a willful elementary schooler? A sassy middle schooler? Covered. A rude teenager? That too. Tired of your own yelling or need help instituting consequences? Those too. Dr. G’s advice contains no judgment, no snark. It’s simply useful, easy to implement, stick-to-able stuff.
So, do you need help, fresh ideas, even a licensed professional to let you know you aren’t ruining your kids? Here’s your chance to win a copy of Dr. G’s book! Leave a comment to receive one entry toward winning.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Learn more about Dr. G on her YouTube channel, Ask Dr. G.
I received an advance copy of Dr. G’s book, but all rambling thoughts are my own.