Getting kids to help with chores seemed like an ideal requiring extra-superlative effort made by super-moms…

until some ugly attitudes crept up chez nous. Then it became a vital necessity.

Here is what I heard that triggered the change:

 “Girls can be treated _________ (something negative) because they are, you know, only girls.”


I pounced right into righeous-lecture mode.

“You should NEVER refer to women in such a manner again!”

My son’s facial expressions told me the message was going into his brain but not reaching his heart.

surprised mother
Distorted building
Mother lost it
Mom Shock 2—Lectures are ineffective.

I was merely kidding myself to expect that lecturing my sons would prove to be effective. Lecturing merely soothes my soul (and for a very brief moment at that 🙁 I get up on my self-righteous high horse and expound virtue…and check off “disciplined” from the parenting to-do list.

[bctt tweet=”My actions would have to speak louder than my words. Hummm, what was my behavior saying?!”]

My actions would have to speak louder than my words.

Hummm, what was my behavior saying?!

Mom Shock 3—Are you treating mom like the maid?!

I was allowing my boys to treat me like a maid-housekeeper-servant!

It starts so innocently. They play a board game. Mom cleans up. They undress for the bath. Mom puts the clothes in the hamper. They enjoy a home-cooked meal. Mom and Dad do the dishes.

Then the unreasonableness of the situation hit me. Wham! “Mom, can you get me ______.” My sons made these requests while sitting down and enjoying a game. Since I was standing up and washing his dishes, I was available to satisfy his wishes. Where is the logic? And I was going along with this?!

It was time to change.

Mom Shock 4—I will need to change first.

Introducing the Law of Emotions and its corollaries (Inspired by John Newton’s Third Law of Motion).

Law of Motion and Emotion: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Corollary I: If I keep doing the same thing as a parent, the kids will continue will continue to react the same way!

Corollary II: To get the kids to react differently, I will have to change the way I behave.

As I pondered these Laws of Emotion, I discovered my own inconsistencies.

I SAY all people have equal value: women and men, parents and kids, different nationalities and beliefs, independent of wealth….

My BEHAVIOR—allowing my children to boss me, albeit kindly, around—allowed them to treat me with little respect!

frustrated mother
Happy mother

Having children do chores is one way parents say, loud and clear through their actions,

“Every person is valuable.  YOU, my darling, are precious.  No one can take that away from you.  Your Dad/Mom and I, my sweetheart, are treasures.  We will treat each other that way in PRACTICAL ways.  Like doing the dishes together, like helping to vaccum, like setting the table….

This is how we parents will love—we will show the confidence that you can help at home.

This is how you, child, will love us—you will contribute with chores AND it will make home life easier and more fun.”

And to read how it worked, click here 🙂