Doctor Love: Mother Doesn’t Know Best

Sunday, February 5th, 2017

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Dear Doctor Love,
I am afraid my ten year old son will grow up thinking he will always have someone to clean up after him. When I ask him to help out with chores, I get huge sighs, rolling eyes, whining and lately, refusal. His room is always a mess, he leaves everything where he lays it and I have become the caretaker for his dog. Every time I try to tell my son what I want him to do, he “forgets” or “was going to do it” and I end up doing it myself. My husband shrugs it off but I don’t want my son to become a man who is lazy and entitled. How can I make him see it is important for our son to learn to be self sufficient and to start to take care of himself?
/s/ Mother Doesn’t Know Best

Dear Mother,
Children must learn character traits such as accountability, setting goals, and responsibility, and as parents, you are not doing him any favors by allowing him to neglect doing tasks that are not fun. You will need your husbands’ support so discuss with him how you want to handle the transition of more responsibility to your son.
The Doctor suggests drawing an age appropriate “Chore Chart” with a list of everything that needs to be done, from setting and clearing the table to fetching mail, walking the dog and collecting his dirty clothes for laundering. Each chore should have a deadline, such as garbage to the trash can by nine Sunday evening, and when chores are not finished by the deadline, then privileges stop until they are done. As he matures, the chores should become more demanding. Give each chore a value, which at the end of each week or month, translates to an allowance which he can spend or save as he wants. By doing this, your son can learn how to budget money. If he wants a phone, he knows how many chores he has to do to earn that phone. If he spends his money on something else it will take him longer to buy the phone. Opening a bank account will allow him to see the financial benefits of his hard work and to teach him the difference between want and need. He can decide if he wants to spend his money on something he desires more than needs. Accomplishing tasks creates self confidence and independence, so as he grows older his pride as well as his privileges will broaden.

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