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Different ideas about discipline could sabotage this would-be marriage

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz January 25, 2012 06:00 AM

[This letter has been condensed and edited. BFM.] I'm in a challenging relationship with my girlfriend or hope to- be- future wife. We are separated right now with some conflicting issues and, well, one of the questions is that she doesn't think it's important that her son have household chore, and that it's also ok for him to smoke pot in the house or in the basement.

[Her children] ...also have to be told what to do [for every] task like little kids and also they, or at least one of them, are gone for days or sometimes week's on end he pops in when he wants to or when he needs something from his mom. She has three son, two are twins.... They also won't listen to rules too well....There's other things going on with us but those are some of the things that are affecting our relationship. I'm at my wit's end. Can you tell me what to do or how to deal with this or these things? Thank you so much.

From: Vic, Alton, IL


Should chores be tied to allowance?

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz April 6, 2011 06:00 AM


What are some good chores a 10-year-old can do? My daughter wants more allowance, and I've already told her:
-Clean your room
-Wake up early
-Organize your things
-Feed the dog
-Help cook
-Make your bed
-Clean up after your bath
-Empty trash
-Fold your clothes
-Clean mirrors

From: Hopee, Forsyth, GA


How can she get her teen off the computer?

Posted by Barbara F. Meltz August 19, 2010 06:00 AM

I am a single mother of a 15-year-old son. He never leaves the house to see friends or go places with me. He just wants to play video games all day on the computer. He does little chores seeing how my house is rarely messy. I want to reconnect with him but not to sure how anymore. Can you help?

From: Victoria, Garden Grove, CA


Keeping ahead of the chaos

Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse August 10, 2009 10:54 AM

It's hard enough to get going some mornings; trying to ride herd on a bunch of kids with different needs and routines can make it feel nearly impossible. Even if you have only one child to check up on, and even if your mornings are a piece of cake, there's still homework, projects, extra curricular activities, household chores, and bedtime to consider.

Ideally, you want your kids to eventually take responsibility for these things themselves, but until then, how do you stay on top of it all?


Do you give your kids an allowance?

Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse June 22, 2009 11:54 AM

Does getting an allowance teach kids to manage money, or does it just condition them to expect a handout? Should you tie the allowance in to chores, or should chores be considered a non-negotiable family responsibility? And how much should a 10-year-old get, anyway?


Eye-rolling tweener driving me crazy

Posted by David Beard, Globe Staff December 15, 2008 09:53 PM

The following question came in a reader Q&A with Child Caring writer Barbara Meltz:

Question:Hi Barbara, I have a 12-year-old daughter and am at the beginning of the adolescent years ( I have 2 more to follow). How do I respond to her eye rolling and heavy sighing when I ask her to do a simple task like pick up her underwear? It seems no matter what I ask her, it's like I've asked her to cut off one of her fingers.

I try to set up expectations like, no computer until such and such is done and even though she knows that is the rule, she still acts openly disgusted. I try not to take it personally, but it is very hard not to get frustrated by her frustration. I have to admit, I do not like her like this and am afraid our relationship will suffer.

I do not feel like I am asking too much, but apparently she does. I have read some books, but I feel I need one about everyday frustrations. Any advice would be much appreciated as I have 2 more coming and I am dreading at least 10 years of door slamming and eye rolling.

Barbara Meltz:
Dear Frustrated Mom, Welcome to parenting an adolescent. You've already made some great inroads ...and you are 100 percent right: you can't take any of this personally.

My take on this stage (I give a whole talk on this subject to parent groups) is that it's as if a light switch gets flipped. Kids go from being lovable and communicative to wanting privacy, rolling eyes, all the things you describe.

It's a healthy stage of development! And it's not that she hates you, it's that she hates the idea of you. She wants to believe that she is capable of being independent of you but deep down she knows she's not. Your very presence is a constant reminder to her of that.

Preteens want a voice in decisions, they want to be consulted and they want to feel respected. Almost like you have a toddler all over again. So you may need to parent differently, in a way that conveys to her that you know she is changing, that you aren't going anywhere no matter how much she rolls her eyes at you, that you still love her, and that you are willing to give her more of an appropriate voice in life.

If chores are a problem, ask her, "You know, you've been doing the same chores for 3 years. Would you like to have different ones that reflect who you are now?" Another line that will help, when she wants to do something new: "This is a big step. Let's try it and see how it goes." The more you are able to negotiate and give her a say in things without relinquishing your parental authority, the better. It's tricky, but it's doable.

Agree with Barbara's advice? Want to fine-tune it with some advice of your own? Let us know in our comments section -- and check out the advice and the comment boards on the following posts:


Allowance and chores

Posted by Barbara Meltz October 1, 2007 02:00 PM


From my on-line chat that just ended comes this question from Bruce:

"We have a 6 yo son and a 9 yo daughter. We recently set up an allowance program for each where getting allowoance is tied to doing their daily routine (including getting ready for schoool, doing homework and bed time routeins.) We take away small parts of it if they do not follow the routine. What do you think of such a system? I am a little concerned about focusing on the negative (taking away money for bad behavior) vs being positive. They do give us a bit of a hard time with these things, butnot anything major."

I'm not a fan of tying allowance to chores. Here's a recent column on the subject, "Money for nothing? Even the experts aren't united on the value of allowance."

About the author

Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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