Our idea of childhood has changed plenty during the centuries — no longer do we make our kids work on the farm or in the factories. But sometimes we wonder if the pendulum has swung a little too far in the other direction, as some parents decide against giving their children any chores around the house. Well, not one mom on Reddit, who had her 6-year-old clean her whole house as a punishment, and now some family members are calling it abuse.
“My son, Ron, has a few chores like helping with the laundry, loading the dishwasher, keeping his room clean, wiping the table and feeding the cats,” SnooRobots2883 wrote on the AITA subreddit. “Nothing too hard. One big rule I have is everyone picks up after themselves. I make it known that I am not the maid nor the only one living in the house so everyone will do their part.”
This sounds reasonable, and pretty much exactly in line with what experts have told SheKnows about what chores are appropriate for Ron’s age. By asking children to help out around the house, parents teach them about responsibility and cooperation, and they also boost their self-esteem.
But SnooRobots2883’s ex, Ron’s dad, does not see things this way.
“After coming back from his dad’s last time, Ron informed me all the chores where MY job and he didn’t have to help, that his dad said so,” she wrote. “I told him that this is not his dad’s house, that he has responsibilities here and I would not do his chores for him. Well, Ron went on strike. This is fine, his chores don’t get done, he doesn’t get his allowance.”
Unfortunately, Ron retaliated by throwing garbage on the floor, grinding food into the carpet, and spilling drinks onto the floor. His mom responded with a punishment to fit the crime.
“I took away his tablet and made him clean the house by himself, only helping with things he couldn’t do on his own,” SnooRobots2883 said. “It took him all day. That night, I talked to him about how hard it is to clean the house and it has to be a team effort.”
Here’s the problem: When the mom told other members of the family about this, they flipped out. “I have been threatened with CPS, called an abusive parent, and called a b word. I really don’t think I was in the wrong, but I’ll leave it for you to judge,” she addressed Redditors.
Redditors are absolutely on her side.
“Everyone needs to do their part,” NapsandCats88 wrote. “If he wants to go on ‘strike,’ then I don’t see an issue of the house cleaning punishment for him to learn the lesson that it’s a lot of work to do by yourself and why we all help out. Bio dad sounds like an AH to me.”
Another mom told of her slightly more extreme reaction to her child’s strike: “When my 6-year old went on strike, so did I! I was like, yep, let’s do it,” Resilient_Fox wrote. “None of us WANTS to do any chores, so let’s see what happens? I didn’t make breakfast or lunch, and the night before’s dishes were piled up high in the sink. None of us ate for those two meals. By dinner time, my 6-year-old got the point. Helped me make a feast, did the age-appropriate chores they were supposed to, and has never made a fuss since.”
The conflict between the mom and her ex over their respective household rules did strike many as something that should be resolved, if possible. This won’t work if they’re unable to have civil conversations, but it would be ideal to either have some consistency, or at least to establish the understanding that there will be different rules in the different homes.
In the meantime, there’s also the issue of these interfering family members who want to call CPS. It appears that an expert on the matter was able to weigh in.
“CPS worker here,” ananon919191 wrote. “This is not something that would be investigated. If it was reported the child does every chore in the home all the time, not as a one-time punishment, then it might get assigned for investigation of neglect. … But nothing in the story you have told constitutes any kind of abuse or neglect. Is it bad parenting? Maybe. That’s subjective. But if you aren’t abusing your child, you get to decide how to parent, even if others disagree. … This definitely sounds like more of a you and your ex problem than a you and your son problem. Your ex is disrespecting the rules of your home and encouraging your child to break rules and disrespect his other parent. I’d encourage you to look into co-parenting classes in your area and suggest you and your ex both attend.”
We’ve got nothing more to add to that very sound advice. If you’re wondering which chores you should assign to your kids, here’s some more guidance.
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