As I was sorting through some old papers today, I ran across this old gem. While I was in my active parenting phase, I took my job very seriously. It was very important to me that I raised my daughters to be responsible, contributing members of society. I spent a great deal of time and effort planning and thinking of parenting strategies. Given my military background, I am not quick to accept excuses. Though it may sound a bit harsh to some, here is what the letter said:
“I’m not going to continue to repeat myself when I’ve given a job to be done. Listen up because you may only hear it once. I recommend you write it down and date it. I’m doing a disservice to both of you because I continually repeat myself for you to do things that:
A. I’ve either told you to already or
B. You shouldn’t need to be told to do such as picking up your dirty dishes, candy wrapper or laundry, etc.
Then you get angry because I tell you what to do. Sometimes you even argue that you don’t have time. Well, arguing takes time…both yours and mine. I don’t choose to keep arguing. Guess what? Someone will always tell you what to do. Maybe it’s your boss who insists that you work before you get paid. Maybe it’s the government who insists that you pay taxes on the wages that you earn. Or maybe it’s the police officer who tells you that you can’t speed or bring more than one friend in the car while you drive. Life is about making choices, then reaping the consequences both good and bad. You can’t blame your boss if you don’t get paid or lose your job for not following directions. You can’t blame the police officer if you get a ticket if you’re not doing what you are supposed to do. And you can’t blame your parents for imposing consequences after you’ve been warned. It doesn’t matter if you think the rules are “stupid”. If you follow the rules, then consequences aren’t an issue.
Here is a partial list of what I expect:
• Beds made daily
• No laundry on the floor
• Dishes washed, dried and put away as used
• Messes on counter wiped up and dishcloth rinsed out
• Bathroom items put away and toilet paper roll filled plus towel hung up
• Permission to use laundry facilities since we have timing issues
o Laundry not left in the kitchen
• Rooms cleaned once per week including floors
As you may have noticed, all these things are just for your personal upkeep. They don’t contribute in any way to the good of the entire household. Anything I ask is to be done with priority.
One of the newer consequences is that I may wake you up to do the chore if it’s not done by bedtime. I expect you to be pleasant or there will be additional consequences. Don’t get angry with the one who insists on compliance. Remember, it’s an inconvenience for me as well. I’d rather the chore had been done earlier. Look in the mirror and be angry with the person who skipped their chore. I might just pick up the neglected item and hold it indefinitely.
Let’s do our part to keep a nice house and improve our attitudes when being told what to do. You aren’t a victim; you have choices. Choose well and you’ll be much happier!
The letter was signed under protest. Drill Sergeant Moms are crafty; they make sure they get everything in writing because they want to make sure that everyone remembers what the instructions were. As I read this letter, which was written about ten years ago, I roll my eyes. Was everything enforced? No. This letter was a starting point; an idealistic set of expectations. Single moms who are working full time while going to college and parenting teenaged daughters would probably be happy if half of those expectations were met. No one ever got woken up to do a chore and schoolwork would always come first, but I wasn’t going to offer any excuses! Parenting with intentionality was tiring, but I was never too exhausted to put the computer keyboard in my car and tie wrap the computer or television power cord to a table leg before I went to work if someone had lost their computer or tv privileges. Ten years later, I look back with great satisfaction. They are both independent, responsible, married young women. My respect and admiration for each of them is immense. I can’t wait to see how they parent their own children. But I’ll have to…I’m not old enough to be a grandma. “That’s a direct order girls!”