Dear Annie: Past the breaking point

Dear Annie: I’m caught in a cycle of being too busy, tired and stressed out to ask my family for help with household chores. My husband tries, and he helps a bit, but the kids only chip in a little when I ride them. I’ve tried schedules, rewards and taking away privileges. But in the end, it’s just easier for me to cook, set and clear the table, do the dishes, sweep and mop the floor, and on and on.

Am I just avoiding the job of teaching my kids these things? I work full time, and they have super busy schedules. I don’t want the precious time we have together to be spent arguing over chores. At the same time, I know it would help them — and me! — if they helped out more. Maybe. As I said, it seems easier if I do it instead of them bickering over who has a worse job than the other. At least then there’s peace in the house.

Besides, when they do help, all too often something breaks! I don’t mean to be so attached to dishes, and I know that these lessons are important for kids to learn, but it’s hard to see favorite items come crashing down because they weren’t put away properly. — Losing the Battle over Chores

Dear Chores: In fighting a war, any good general will tell you that strategy is most important part. Whatever you do, don’t give up and throw in the towel, so to speak. Your motherly instincts are correct that chores are great for kids. In the beginning, it will be hard — for you and the kids — to stick with this new routine. But keep assigning a schedule of chores to each child. Make sure you alternate the “worst jobs” so that each child gets a turn.

Have your husband help in assigning these chores and in making sure the children follow-through. You’ll want the whole family involved. Then your kids will see that this isn’t something you will handle later on your own if they slack off.

As for dishes, this is a task that I would assign to you, Mom. It is not their faults if they drop heavy, expensive plates. Assign chores they can succeed in and not ones where they end up feeling bad about themselves for breaking things. Your yelling or exasperation will not encourage your kids to pitch in more often. In addition to a clean house, you want to use this exercise to help your children build self-confidence.

Dear Annie: As an eating disorders therapist, I wanted to thank you so much for your wise and accurate letter to “Weighing.” You were on target when you said that there are other — often better — measures of health than the number on the scale. Your advice that this letter writer talk to her employer about her company’s current health approach is also spot on. Thank you for making such excellent suggestions. — Impressed Therapist

Dear Therapist: Thank you for your letter. I always love hearing from experts in their fields.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)