Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Nag Hag

Remember how easy it used to be when you could just tell your kids to do something and they did it. "Pick up your toys...I said now!" and with an aw mom, off they went to pick up their toys, brush their teeth, and get ready for bed. It all seemed so effortless. Now, now so much. A request seemingly simple and benign can turn into all out warfare. " Honey, can you bring up your laundry that I just washed and folded for you up to your room? It starts off nice: " In a minute." 30 minutes later, said a little more strongly: "honey will you take your laundry upstairs...NOW!"  A reply with attitude "I...SAID....I...WOULD". And the battle of the wills has begun.

I wish I had some very astute reasoning and explanation about why your teen won't listen to you. But mostly its just cause they don't want to, don't feel like, and don't care about it. You however, care alot about it. You see your teen as being disrespectful, selfish, and dare I say lazy. All qualities you find particularly unattractive. You have given this great thought, and have spent much drive-time trying to figure out how exactly to get your teen to take responsibility for themselves. They on the other hand have given it no thought! Again they don't really care if the laundry basket stays downstairs forever. They will accommodate by throwing dirty clothes on their bedroom floor instead, and pulling the clean clothes from the basket downstairs on their way upstairs. See how adaptable they are.

The only real solution is not to engage in this power struggle from the get go. Relationships are reciprocal, and if your teen is not pulling his/her weight in the relationship, then you too can "accommodate." You make your initial request for whatever you need your teen to do, understanding that it is unlikely that he/she will do it on the first try. Perhaps the second round may go a little differently, maybe using an "I get It'' moment like: Honey I get this is a pain the a** and not important to you, but I need you to do this before you go to bed. OK? How can I help you to remember to do it?" At this point you will probably get a "just leave me alone" I'll do it.! If this is the case, leave them alone. And if they don't do it, then the next morning when they need you to do something for them, or that afternoon when they ask for a ride home from school cause its raining, or that weekend when they ask for a ride to their friends or 20 bucks to go to a movie with friends, you can sweetly say: "you know honey, I would have loved to do that for you, but since you chose not to take your laundry up the other night, or not to empty the dishwasher, I guess I am choosing not to pick you up. That's how relationships work. I love to do things for you and I hope that you like to help me in return." PERIOD!!! Do not engage in a back and forth on this. As I have said before, actions speak louder than words. The next time you need your teen to do something, and you put in the request and you get the avoidance again, which of course you will, because learning takes time. You might say, remember when you were so pissed at me last weekend because I wouldn't give you a ride, just saying, I need you to empty the dishwasher..your choice." You may have do this a number of times. Repetition, and consistency are the only way that anyone, not just teens learn. I have a friend who has been married for 35 years and her husband STILL does not remember to put down the toilet seat. There have been many late night pee visits sitting down on that cold porcelain throne for this woman. Get my drift!!

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