Dear Annie: I am engaged to an intelligent, beautiful, loving woman. We both work full time and see eye-to-eye on just about everything. However, we are becoming increasingly frustrated with her four kids when it comes to doing their laundry, putting dirty dishes in the dishwasher, walking the dog, etc. If a trash can is overflowing, they simply pile more on top of it instead of taking it outside.
These kids are between 13 and 21. We want them to take responsibility for their actions and take pride in their home. We have tried making lists and assigning tasks, punishments and rewards, to no avail. During our most recent conversation with the kids, one said, “It’s too difficult to remember.” Another said, “You can’t make us do it.” Two of these kids are working. Any suggestions? – Frustrated in the Midwest
Dear Frustrated: Some children need to be reminded to help around the house, and the reminder has to stick. Mom should tell them that neither you nor she is a servant and they all need to care for their living space. Any children over 18 should be nicely encouraged to move into their own places, which will highlight their choices. The younger kids should have privileges restricted if they do not follow the house rules. But Mom has to enforce these rules, or nothing will change.