Teens and chores

Sep 27, 2010 at 12:46 p.m. ET

Does your teen have a chore list that he has to complete every week -- or is it just easier for you to let him off the hook and do it all yourself? If holding your teen to a chore list seems like more of a chore than it’s worth, or if you think your teen is too old for chores, it’s time to reconsider.

Teen mowing lawn

"Chores" — the word might seem silly when spoken in the same sentence as "teenager." After all, aren't chores for young children? Absolutely not, says Darrell "Coach D" Andrews, CSP, a nationally acclaimed speaker, life coach, author and father of four. In fact, if you're not holding your teen responsible for family chores, you might even be doing him a disservice.

More work for you

Enforcing chores might actually be more work for you, but it's worth the effort. Coach D says that chores are an excellent way to teach teens responsibility, but that many parents don't require them anymore. If it takes more effort to hassle, hound or remind your teen to complete her weekly chore list, you might be tempted to do it for her.

Chores now, accountability later

Coach D knows something about teens and chores. As the father of a teenage son, he says that it's not always easy to motivate his teen to complete his chores on a daily basis. However, because he and his wife have conversations with their son and don't just make demands, their son works with them. "He is beginning to see the connection between home and future life responsibilities," says Coach D. It might seem silly now to make such a fuss, but think about message you're conveying by requiring your teen to do his part.

"One day our son will be a man who will have to take care of his family. Chores are a good way to help teenage children learn how to take responsibility and contribute to the daily duties of running a home," he says. That's not far-reaching, even though it may seem like it to a teenager.

We always have to be accountable to people in life – ourselves, our bosses, our friends, our families. Chores are another form of accountability. Because Coach D and his wife have put a tremendous amount of effort into communication and not just authoritarian enforcement, their teen gets it, even if he doesn't always like it.

Motivating your teen

Coach D says that this boils down to one word: time. Being committed to your children and investing time in your relationship leads to more cooperation and understanding.

However, if you're finding that things are more contentious that you'd like, Coach D suggests a dinner or weekend getaway with the teen and one parent. He says that at home and around friends, teens often have an identity that they protect.

Taking some time out, where you can spend serious one-on-one time in a nurturing, open and trusting environment, can really help. "This is not a time to communicate consequences, just
positive outcomes," cautions Coach D. "Once the child starts to follow through at home, compliment them as often as possible, but be sure to make it sincere."

We call them chores for teens, but they become responsibilities for adults. As a parent, you owe it to your teen to build a foundation for future success.

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