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(hopefully) Successful Negotiations

CLove's picture

I posted a link about chores today on a support site and my regular FB.

Since Monday there has been some tension in the house. It centers around chores, of all things. Not infidelity, not drugs or gambling issues, or being beaten regularly. Chores. There is a purity to its simplicity but it is actually a complex subject as I am finding.

My issue was that Munchkin was asked by me to do certain things. She flat out refused. Because I had given a choice. Fair enough.

These past few years I have been very passive-agressive in how I approach chores in the household with Skids. I now know that my approach was WRONG. Anytime a skid needed to accomplish a chore, I would nag DH about it. Starting with the Eldest Feral Forger SD20, and now with munchkin sd13. He in turn would lash out at them and then me for "causing him to get angry". Or, worse, apologetically ask them to please do xyz. And then lash out at me.  So today I did something different. I texted munchkin that I would need her to accomplish a chore a day, then we can do fun things this Saturday. If she does more than is asked, Ill give cash.

In the past I blamed skids, but really this was a DH problem. I cannot change him I can only educate myself and change myself. I got some great advice today from fellow steppers who have both bios and skids. Across the entire spectrum, here is what was given me:

1. Chores are not a choice. Given a choice, children will "opt out". I saw this played out when my DH a few weeks ago attempted a "pay-by-chore" scheme, so that Munchkin would get some pocket money for snacks or whatever. She has pretty much everything she needs/wants, so most of the time, when she had 5-10$ she would opt out. Because it was a choice.

2. Authority to dole out chores must be given by the bio parent in some/most cases. Speak to the child, more than once if necessary, but the bio parent MUST support this, or it fails. The parent and step parent are a team, a unit, are ONE. When a step asks a skid to accomplish something it is as if the bio parent has asked.

3. Using a reward system is good, but better if the chores are unpaid. They are part of a household, and need to learn that things must be earned. The sense of entitlement doesnt come from a video game, it comes from everything being given, nothing earned.

4. Chores create a sense of responsibility, they are a self-esteem booster, as well as skill building in managing a household. Munchkin SD13 did not know how to clean a bathroom until 2 weeks ago.

5. The bio parent MUST be on board with you.

When I think back at all the things that Feral Forger is and did, I understand that this wasnt just her, but her parents as well. They never really gave her chores, therefore her sense of entitlement grew to large proportions. Her self esteem is low from what DH understands. I dont want to critique him and tell him he failed with #1, heres a second chance to get it right with #2, I am simply wanting peace and harmony. I truly love Munchkin SD13 and want her to have the best life possible, be a strong person with a healthy outlook. I dont want to be a dictator, but yes, I want her to listen to me, not JUST her bios. Because I parent her. I support her, feed her, clothe her, teach her, dry her tears, clean up her puke and soothe her fears.

I am now asking for that authority, that goes with the responsibility I have gladly taken on.


ESMOD's picture

Growing up, my brother and I were told that everyone in the household has a job and responsibilities that go along with being part of the home/community.  

As kids... our job was to go to school.  Adults work to financially and logistically support the home.

But.. everyone also has responsibilities within the home.. "chores".. that we do as a result of being part of the household.. "for love" if you will.

so we had to do a certain amount of chores because we were part of the household.. period.

Now.. my parents would also occasionally have extra work we could do to earn money.. sometimes these extra chores were a requirement.. but we still got paid..haha.

the joke was when we would be asked to do something atypical if we were going to be doing it for "love or money"

Cover1W's picture

1)  haDH didn't have chores as a kid and he's gladly passed that on. 

2) He also gives a choice if 'directing' a skid to do something. So they opt out and then he gives up.

3) I am mean or authoritarian if I insist on a chore, so I gave up looooong ago.

4) If SD13 makes a mess I will insist she clean it. Usually she'll do it no prob. But we got into a little argument last weekend when I told her to clear the table. "No." Oh yes you will because we cooked and set the table.  "I don't feel like it and it's not mine." Well, I didn't eat all of it nor do I keep this house clean or buy groceries for only me. So yes, as a part of this house you will help out when needed." She did it.


CLove's picture

Yes, when I got home chores were being done, and everyone was REALLY SUPER nice. I cooked a great meal and left the dishes. DH did not request munchkin to do dishes. she did not want to do more than required so no extra probably daddee will give $$ for this weekend..

tog redux's picture

We certainly never had a choice and didn't get paid for chores. We didn't leave the house to see friends until they were done.

The problem is, you are starting her late on this, and I'm going to assume TT doesn't make her do any chores. So of course she's going to object. 

CLove's picture

Is 13 too late? Shes done things consistently since 8 years old, like clean ehr room. Then past few years clean dog doo, and take care of rabbits.

Im switching it up to one mandatory chore per day...hoping it will be an easy transition.

I did get lots of pushback from the eldest...but thats a whole different bailiwick.

Toxic Troll is a bff mother, and no chores except clean the rabbit cage. Of course with Toxic Troll everything is toxic so when Munchkin doesnt clean as asked, TT threatens to let the rabbit go loose, and makes her daughter cry. But Ive heard stories that munchkin has cleaned the apartment unasked once. But Ive also heard stories that the apartment is pretty trashed up with junk everywhere. So I dont think that chores are required on the level that we have in our 3 bedroom, two living room two bathroom home with a big backyard.

ESMOD's picture

depending upon the nature of the chore.. one a day may be too much.

again.. in our home.. the child's job is school.. and with school comes homework.. 


1st priority is attending school and completing assigned schoolwork

2nd priority is maintaining personal cleanliness including keeping room straight and hygiene basics met

3rd priority are tasks related to you personally.. like caring for your own pet.. walking your dog.. feeding parakeets..etc..

4th priority is being a "productive member of the household".. so chores fit in here.  Now.. a chore/responsibility can be as small as the request to "please set the table"... "please make the salad for dinner" to a more involved.. I need you to vacuum the downstairs or clean the guest bathroom.

There may not always be reasonable time in the day for that 4th priority to be something big.. so be reasonable.

So.. a small 5 minute chore.. like here's a trash bag.. please go collect the trash from the bathrooms and bedrooms.. or please set the table.. are fine for daily "asks".

But.. the child does not necessarily need to have a large chore every day.. so especially on a school night.. chore should be a brief/quick to accomplish thing.. but perhaps a bigger ask on the weekend when there is more time???



Lollybobs's picture

We have small chores on a daily basis. DD16 and DS14 take it in turns to set the table/make drinks for dinner. DD has to dry up then DS puts everything away. They both have to vacuum their own rooms and occasionally we'll ask them to vacuum other areas as well. DD is also (reluctantly) in the process of learning to manage her own laundry. 

They both have a bad habit of using a fresh glass every time they want a drink and leaving these glasses all over the house. We now have a 'fine jar' and they have to pay £1 into it if we find glasses where they're not supposed to be. They're certainly making more of an effort since we introduced it!