There are days I sit frantically writing, grading papers or chasing the baby around the house, the dishes piled up and floor desperately needing to be vacuumed. I grab some dog hair from the baby’s hand before he puts it in his mouth and make a mental note that I absolutely must vacuum today. No surprise that usually by the end of the night it hasn’t happened, and I collapse in bed barely able to keep my eyes open. (I’m pretty sure there are dust bunnies fighting till the death on the floor. And the laundry piled up looks like a real-life statue. I’ve actually grown quite fond of it.)
I’ve had people tell me to “make my teenager help” and I simply tell them “No.” The looks I get are quite telling that they don’t feel the same, but here’s the thing: my teenager doesn’t do chores. There isn’t a list of tasks she must complete before she goes out. Or an allowance that she sees weekly once certain things are done. She is free to live her life. She must do well in school and always have her schoolwork done. That has been my only, one true requirement of her. She is a straight A/B student and has always made the honor roll. But, no chores.
Here me out before you send the Mommy Mob after me. I promise I’ll explain!
My daughter sees me juggle a lot every day. I never force her to do anything around the house but she offers, every single day. My job as a mother is to raise well-rounded, helpful, compassionate human beings. So, each day when she wakes up (albeit a lot later than me) she immediately goes into action.
“Mom, I can watch the baby, so you can shower.” “Mom, let me unload the dishwasher for you.”
This to me, means far more than designated chores. For her to see me with a need and offer, shows that compassion and helpfulness that I so strongly tried to instill in her from a young age. There is no allowance that goes into her account weekly, she is helpful simply because it is the right thing to do.
This philosophy has transcended into other areas of her life. Her last report card was met with praises from many teachers about how helpful and compassionate she is, always willing to help her peers or teachers when needed. I constantly get messages from her aunt when she’s with her about how thoughtful she is and how she woke up and took the dogs for a walk for her, or helped lug things upstairs without being asked.
Don’t get me wrong, there are days where the teenage attitude comes out and we butt heads, but I remind myself how lucky I am that these days are few and far between.
She’ll occasionally ask for things to do to make money for something she wants that is beyond my normal scope of purchases for her. She gladly jumps into action to complete them. She’s eager to get a job and make her own money, which I will encourage when she can. I often wonder if her helpfulness will fade as she works outside the home, but I hope that all she has learned and continues to experience in the world reminds her of the importance of being compassionate and helpful, not just at home, but everywhere.
So, when people continue to tell me to make my teenager help out more, I will continue to say “No,” and proudly say she doesn’t do chores. Because at the end of the day, she is a thoughtful young lady who is learning more by not having chores than if she did.