J is for Jobs [The A-Z of Step-Parenting]

The list is endless. Daily jobs, weekly jobs, jobs which need someone else to do them. There are jobs that are pipe dreams and jobs that are half finished. This, quite clearly, is not restricted to my household nor is it a by-product of being a step parent.

However, as a step parent, it can become a battle ground if not treated with the utmost respect. Jobs, or chores if you’re American, can seem reasonable to an adult but to a teenager they are second only to torture.

Me: Do I need to remind you to do the dishes this evening?
Youngest: No.
Me: Ace, so will they be done shortly?
Youngest: Erm no.
Me: Pardon?
Youngest: You don’t have to remind me to do them because it’s not my turn to do them.

Now there is no real answer to this. Respond by claiming it is their turn and an unholy stand-off begins. Ignore it and this tactic will be used on a regular basis.

My method here is to turn the table and say, ‘Ok so it must be your turn to clean the bathroom, then.’ I don’t need to point out the possible health and safety pitfalls of allowing a teenager to clean the bathroom.

There is an alternative. The job rota. A liberal use of highlighters, school pencils, a ruler and much pondering is needed for the rota to work. How long will the rota last though? How long before it’s defaced? The answer is, not long at all.

Me: So will it be the bathroom or the dishes?
Youngest: Dishes.
Me: Within the hour?
Youngest: Which hour?

You simply can’t win. So it’s how you deal with it that counts. You could raise your stress levels and spend most of your time nagging in order to get very little achieved. Or, you could do as my wife does. Job for job. No dishes? No school uniform. No laying of the table? No lift to a friend’s house. They soon learn.

This is part ten of the “A-Z of Step-Parenting” series by Paul Nevitt, a 33-year-old male with plenty of experience of living with stepchildren. Visit his adoption blog too.