But that’s your job

Being a parent is indeed hard work filled with minimal thanks. However, I’ve tried very hard to make sure my children understand that being their mother isn’t my “job.” That implies that I work for them. The cooking and cleaning and carpooling and loving and nurturing and disciplining isn’t done on command. It’s done because we are a family. Which implies that the younger people should be growing into some of those family duties themselves.

My oldest has always been the most reluctant to take on responsibility. Last week in one of her teenage fits she accused me of doing too much for her siblings. There’s a truth in that statement – not that I do too much for her siblings – but that in some ways I do too much for all of them. You can’t raise independent, responsible people if you don’t give them ownership and responsibility. So I revisited a few things (an important characteristic in parenting) and decided to back off and hand them off to my children – starting with packing lunches.

And that’s when WWIII broke out in my house. Apparently I was just “babying” two children, not the older one. I wasn’t doing too much for her. In fact, I should keep doing everything I was doing and perhaps a few more things… but just for her, because I “do too much for the others.”

On Day #2 the oldest realized that this wasn’t just a one-time lesson. That I was actually moving forward with this plan of having them pack their own lunches. I was then told in a very loud voice, “But that’s your JOB. If you don’t do that then your only job is to drive me around and cook for me.”

Because apparently that’s all I do.

And it’s my JOB, for which she has now given me a poor performance review.

All I have to say to that (aside from “you’re grounded”) is that if it’s my job, then the wages and hours are miserable and I’m going on strike.


4 thoughts on “But that’s your job

  1. It is funny…kids’ perspectives…
    Funny in a “sometimes you want to kill them” sort of way.
    It is also a tough balance, that being there and still fostering independence, and helping them to take on their own responsibilities. Not an easy JOB at all. And that job, is waaay more important that the feeding and driving.

  2. You should strike. And when she asks for you to drive her somewhere, give her a list of demands that she will need to meet before you stop striking.

  3. How much freedom do you give the 7-year old with packing lunches? I’d love to give A more responsibility with this but (a) she would slice her thumbs off buttering bread and (b) ohmygoodness I could do it 4000% faster and we need to get out the door.

    1. The 7yo buys lunch 99% of the time. But when he packs I’ll usually make his sandwich if it’s PB&J, if it’s meat & cheese he can handle it. If he picks fruit that needs to be cut, I do that. Then he assembles the whole thing and packs it. Yes, I’m faster and sometimes just do it myself but I try not to so he can learn. FYI – a friend of mine had her kids making PB&J even younger – they used a spoon to scoop & spread.

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