April 2006 - Daddy Doesnít
Make Me Clean My Room
Your child is living in two separate homes now. But even
though they are two distinct places, they are both parts of the same family.
Because of this there should be some similarities between the homes. Children
should have responsibilities at both houses, no matter how much time they spend
Why Children Need Responsibilities
Household responsibilities are important for children of all ages. Kids who
have household responsibilities or chores feel like they belong and share ownership
of the home. You want your child to have that feeling in both homes. Children
who are given household responsibilities learn to rely on themselves. They learn
that they can achieve goals and they also begin to be and feel self-sufficient.
Requiring responsibilities at each home sets up similar
expectations for your child from both parents. Consistency is important for
a child, especially a young child, and particularly after a divorce. Setting
similar requirements at both homes sends the message to a child that although
you are parenting in separate homes, you still have the same standards and do
still parent together.
Itís a good idea to talk to your ex about the responsibilities in your separate
homes. Each house should have some kind of responsibilities for the child, even
if they are as small as picking up toys after playing. The responsibilities
in each home do not need to match each other, but they should require the same
level of responsibility and understanding. You donít want your child to feel
like one parent is a slave driver while the other offers a free pass. Discuss
with your ex the types of jobs your child is capable of doing, given his age,
maturity, homework load and extracurricular activities.
What to Do When Responsibilities Arenít Equal
A common scenario is that a child who lives primarily with one parent and has
visitation time with the other often has chores at residential parentís house
and no responsibilities at the other house. The residential parent may try to
talk to other parent about the disparity, but the non-residential parent sometimes
feel like he or she spends so little time with the child that he or she wants
to avoid conflict and also just have fun when the child is there. This is understandable,
but in the long run it sends the wrong message.
It can sometimes be difficult to get your ex to agree to
discuss household responsibilities. If talking gets you nowhere, then you must
focus on what happens inside your own house. Talk to your child about why you
each have responsibilities there and what that means. Donít badmouth the other
parentís policy and instead, concentrate on creating an air of cooperation and
teamwork in your own home.<