Life Advice



Ask Amy: Household chores become a high-stakes game

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My husband and I have a bright, high-functioning 16-year-old daughter.

I have been teaching her how to perform basic household chores (I do the same with our 12-year-old son), and some basic cooking and cleaning skills in order to have some help at home, but mainly so that our kids will understand that everyone in the family pitches in, and that it’s important to have some life-skills. I am a stay-at-home parent and a busy volunteer at their school.

At first I thought our daughter didn’t understand some of these basic instructions, which I had shown her and then written down. She just couldn’t seem to get things right. She used floor cleaner on the stove, left wet paper towels on the wooden dining room table, damaging it, and a few other mess-ups like “forgetting” to put wet laundry in the dryer, but leaving it on the floor, instead.

Then I overheard her bragging to her cousin that she was purposely messing up in order to get me to back off.

I am furious. My husband thinks she’s being clever and doesn’t want to punish her.

What do you think I should do now?


– Disgusted

Dear Disgusted: I think it’s time your daughter learned another life-skill – the concept of natural consequences.

In short, if she fails a task, she will be asked to do it again, until she demonstrates some basic competence.

If she deliberately causes damage, then she should be expected to compensate the family for it.


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