Questionable Advice: May 2021

My 15-year-old son gives me attitude whenever I ask him to do the dishes. I don’t think he appreciates just how much I have to do to keep the house running. How would you recommend impressing that on him?

—Sue

Well Sue, the biggest temptation, of course, is to just give up and do it all yourself. It’s easier, right? But like all mothers, you’re probably into Building Character, so you can’t give up and build character—it’s one or the other. Try this—you’ll get lots of eye rolling and sighing, but those things never killed anyone.  Tell the Adolescent King that you’ve decided to run your home as if it’s a small city, and cities only succeed when everyone works in tandem, unison, in concert, whatever.   Tell him he gets to pick out whichever parts of the city he’d like to run, be the mayor of, etc., but tell him once he’s in charge of those, he has to keep them going or, divided we fall, the city will collapse in ruin, and it’ll be his fault.  He can be Mayor of Unwashed Dishes, or of Unwashed Clothing, or the VP in charge of Walking the Pooch, or the CEO of Lawn Mowing. Tell him that, alas, the positions will be unpaid, but he’ll get free room and board and a weekly stipend if he keeps his part of the Family City alive, well, and flourishing.  Tell him there will be weekly Phoneless Council Meetings where the City Executives will be judged on their performances by the Tribunal Hierarchy, and if up to standards, there will be rewards. If they are not, there will be consequences, and those will guaranteed to be unpleasant.

Without going into specifics, a family in the neighborhood is going through a very hard time recently. Even though we’re not a particularly close-knit neighborhood, I’d like to get together to help this family out, privately. But we’re not vaccinated yet. Any suggestions for a nice way to show support?

—Jenna

Not wishing to put anyone in peril, didn’t we used to help each other and do things for each other before the “vaccination” word ever became a thing?  Didn’t we used to run errands, deliver things, do favors wearing masks, staying 10 ft. apart, washing, etc., etc.? So why suddenly does all that stop because one has not been vaccinated yet?  We can always do the old Hallowe’en Ring and Run thing—put a bag of groceries on a front porch, ring the doorbell, and run away.  No one needs a vaccination to do that.  Does their lawn need mowing? Then try to just do that for them while they are at work, or if they’re not, just mask up, take your mower, and do it for them. When they come outside to protest, smile, wave, keep mowing and leave. How about leaving a message on their answering machine or an email or a note in the door saying, “I have to make a WalMart run on Thursday, so if you’ll just get word to me I can pick up some things for you,” and if they do that, you deliver the goods, Ring and Run, and forget to enclose the receipt. No vaccination needed.  A family needs help?  Get creative. There are ways to help without embarrassing them and without your having to be vaccinated.

I feel like I’m doing all the work for the business my sister and I are launching. We’re good at different things, and we agreed to tackle different parts of it, but I think I’m picking up her slack. Or maybe I just don’t see what’s going on behind the scenes?

-Vi

You’re feeling like that because that’s what’s happening.  Have you always done this picking up the slack for her when you were growing up? Yes?  Well, there you go!  She’s come to expect this of you.  You either go to a DMZ, have dinner, and tell her how you feel, or you wimp out and just keep doing 85 percent of the work.  If you choose the latter you’d better buy shares in the TUMS Company because you’ll be eating a lot of them. It’ll just get you more and more angry.  Get the guidelines worked out, do it on paper, make a pact, have a contract signed by both of you, and give it 6 months.  If she keeps on doing 20 percent of the work, tell her you love her, that her being your sister is the best part of your life, and buy her out.

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