Q: My 15 year old son keeps protesting doing chores around the house. When I said that his chore is the bathroom, he immediately cut me off with "That we both use?!" If I say he has the kitchen, he says "Those aren't all my dishes! I washed my dishes!" Ugh! I want to strangle this kid! Is he being lazy or just plain difficult for the sake of being difficult? And how do I get him to close his mouth and just do his chore!?
A: Well it might be laziness or it might be for the sake of being difficult. It really doesn't matter because he's a kid and he doesn't call the shots. So tell him that! When he says that you both use the bathroom, you should say "Yes, but I'm the only person who pays for it. I pay for everything in the bathroom. You're able to wipe yourself because I buy the toilet paper. You're able to shower because I pay for the water. And you're able to dry off because I purchased all of the towels. Your breath is minty fresh because I provide you with the toothpaste to get to that minty point. So don't tell me about what we both use as if you are a roommate paying for half of everything in this house, because that is not the case. I provide you with the roof over your head by paying the rent/mortgage and then I provide you with everything under this roof, so the least that you could do is contribute your small part by doing a few chores around here!" If his rebuttal is that providing those things is your responsibility as a parent then inform him that it's also your responsibility to provide him with the life lessons that chores teach. Chores teach children how to properly clean. Chores teach children how to complete tasks on a schedule and do so consistently, effectively and efficiently. Chores prepare children to be a good employee some day. You can also tell him that you want him to learn to properly clean so that your future grandchildren won't have to grow up in filth and squalor. A filthy home can result in children being taken by the state due to unsanitary living conditions, which happens more often than people think. So you owe it to those future grand babies to prevent them from experiencing such horrors. I once worked with a foster parent who had a housekeeper, but still reserved some chores for her kids to complete because she wanted them to learn responsibility and to gain those life lessons.
Explain to your child that his chores make up roughly 10% of what it takes to maintain that household. So he needs to do his little 10%.
Okay, now it's time to discuss allowance. There are different perspectives on whether or not to provide allowance, so let's take a look at the pros and cons.
Providing kids with monetary allowance can sometimes give them a sense of entitlement, which can then result in them not wanting to do anything without being paid for it. It's important for kids to be willing to do things out of the kindness of their hearts and without expecting payment. To prevent this, be sure to also have them do things that they don't get paid for, while also talking to them about the many extra things that you do without anyone paying you to do them. Have them carry an elderly person's groceries or shovel their snow for free. But sometimes, if they come up with the idea on their own, then it's okay to surprise them with some small monetary token of appreciation. But that's only if they were truly planning to do the task for free. Redirect them when they offer to do something and then ask for payment. Tell them that sometimes you'll ask them to do extra chores for money and sometimes you'll just ask them to do them, without you paying them and that they are to comply simply because they love you and want to please you. Children have to be taught how to express love through their actions.
Allowance can be used as leverage when it's time to deliver consequences for negative acts or substandard chore completion (e.g. I fine my kids for forgetting to make their bed or pick up their clothes, etc).
When kids have allowance it prevents them from asking you to buy them things in the store. Tell them to spend their own money! No money means no goodies. Maybe they'll remember that the next time they slack on doing their chore. It also provides an opportunity for them to purchase gifts themselves for holidays and birthdays, which usually gives them a greater appreciation for the true meaning of exchanging gifts. Teach them to give from the heart.
Allowance provides an opportunity for kids to learn financial responsibility (e.g. saving, budgeting, bargain/comparative shopping, etc.).
I hope that this information and perspective is of some assistance to you. If none of this works then contact me again and we'll go to Plan-B. There's always a Plan-B because that's the best way to keep kids on their toes. They never know what to expect.
Thank you for your question and do take care.