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pollinator
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No, honestly, whenever I ask my 13 year old daughter to do a chore (fold clothes or do the dishes) I get this for a question in return.

As a house-husband, I do a lot honestly, but feel guilty because roles are reversed here; Katie works at the bank, and I stay home and take care of our four daughters and the work around our farm. Adding to the hurt feelings every time she asks me this, is that I have cancer and can't do nearly as much as I used to. Just walking up a flight of stairs can wipe me out.

I can easily defend what I do: for instance today I sawed out about a dozen logs on the sawmill, voted (today was election day and I take my voting rights seriously), got the results for my daughter's EEG and set up an appointment for the Dr, painted a bedroom in our rental house, fed the sheep and livestock guard dog, then came home to be here when the kids got home and made dinner. Not a wildly busy day, but it was also raining most of the day.

So I can defend what I do, but I don't feel I need to explain all this to a 13 year old.

Or do I? Maybe she needs to understand that when she is not at home, I am busy doing the things she takes for granted?

Or does she have a problem being told to do chores? It seems when she is given a chore to do (fold clothes or wash dishes), she gets very concerned about what her other (3) sisters are going to do.
 
pioneer
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This.

Or does she have a problem being told to do chores? It seems when she is given a chore to do (fold clothes or wash dishes), she gets very concerned about what her other (3) sisters are going to do.



Galations 4:1-3

1But I say that so long as the heir is a child, he differeth nothing from a bondservant though he is lord of all; 2but is under guardians and stewards until the day appointed of the father. 3So we also, when we were children, were held in bondage under the rudiments of the world



You haul ass all day getting everything done- THAT YOU CAN. She is now of the age she is tending toward more autonomy. Which is natural. It is good. We want our children to be independent. Ahem. When they are grown to adulthood. Now as she is indeed still a child, YOU get to choose what subjects are up for debate. Squash the rebellion!!!

Yes, my kid has the same troubles!

 
Joylynn Hardesty
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Ooh! just remembered...

I was the third child in a friend's home for a summer. They made a rotating schedule for the chores.  Every kid knew what was expected each day.

In your case, I'd make up a schedule for your worst day. Then maybe take on one chore per day from a child, as you feel up to it. Again, rotating which child has less chores.
 
pollinator
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Does she ask you what you have eaten when you feed her?
What you received  when you give her a gift?
I bet she doesn't.
Does she ask you to do things?
Do you question her in the same way?
I bet you don't.

If you choose to justify your request, maybe let her know that she shouldn't expect this from you all the time,  or from the rest of the world,ever.
 
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Rainy day, off & on.  Built a morning fire.  Contributed to cleaning up the house, moved firewood, fixed a much-relied-upon machine’s flat tire, sorted some tools in the shop & the greenhouse.  Also sorted some papers involved with the local environmental group I volunteer with.  Did some reading.
 
pioneer
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When my son (5) says he doesn't want to pick up his toys and wants me to instead, I say, "I don't want to, either." And then I tell him ALLLLLLLLL the things I do all day that I can remember, like:

Load the dishwasher
wash the counter
clean the table
wash, dry, put away laundry
help pick up toys
cook food
pay bills/manage finances
grow/harvest/plant food
sweep the floor--often three or more times a day
vacuum

(other accomplishments for me, that aren't so much drugery, but are still things that need to be done:
read them books
take them for walks
Make toys for them
take care of the ducks)

All day I am busy. And if I am not busy, it's because I feel awful. So I often describe how awful I feel. Kids don't know--they can't see what you do all day, or how ill you are. I don't think of it as "explaining myself" to my kids, or "defending my activities"--instead, I think of it as teaching them to notice things outside themselves.

When I think back to my childhood, I recall wondering what my mom did all day, other than read books or watch cooking shows....then I realize that the sink/counter/floor was always clean, and she always made dinner. I look at my house and notice a dirty sink, and wonder how hers always stayed so clean....OH, she cleaned it! Same with her stove, and counter, and floor. Kids don't notice unless they are (1) involved, and/or (2) shown.

Maybe have her tag along beside you for an entire day. Show her everything you do. Put a weighted vest and foggy glasses on her for a few minutes, so she can feel how it is to be so tired and weak and dizzy. Show her how hard your life is. You probably won't need to do this more than once to get the point across.

Another thing would be to try to do more things together. Everyone cleaning at once. I notice that with my kids, I can generally start picking up toys and ask them, "Hey, could you put that in the toy box" or "Who can pick up the cars the fastest!" that they are much more motivated to do things. Showing that chores aren't drudgery is helpful, too. Basic home maintance is necessary. It's part of life. Try to enjoy it! Encourage her to put in earbuds of her favorite song while she does things, or make up a game. Help her see how to make the things fun for the younger siblings, so they want to join in. My kids FIGHT over who gets to start the dishwasher (if only they'd fight over more chores, ha!)

Help her to see, also, what her siblings are doing. Explain how they are younger and may not be able to do as much.

Basically, think of her as your disciple. She's older, she's got a more mature brain. Think of how Jesus worked with His disciples: He explained to them what He was doing, while asking them to trust Him. He gave them small responsibilities and then greater ones. He taught them. He rarely got mad at them, but showed His sadness and remorse at their lack of trust or inability to do what He asked.

Of course, that's easier said than done, especially when your tired and just trying to trudge through the day through fatigue and mind fog. On those days, I really have to train myself to STOP, think loving thoughts rather than ugly angry emotions "URG!!! Why can't he just _____?!?!" or "How could he  ______!?!? This child!" It's taken a year of training to get myself to mostly respond with love and explanations and teaching rather than fury...and even still, when I'm tired and "just trying to do ONE thing without an interruption!" I still fall victim to the anger. Sometimes, I think, the anger response is higher when one is fatigued because it gives a burst of adrenalin to overcome the debilitating fatigue, even for just a few minutes.

It's hard stuff. Know that you ARE doing a lot. Even if it doesn't show. Even if growth in your kids takes months or years. Even if the counter you just cleaned is dirty again in less than 30 minutes. There was an article I read about stay at home dads, and how hard it is to switch from being able to do a task and having it stay done (I built a shed-check! I earned a paycheck-check! I fixed a sink-check! I logged this section of the forest-check!) to never actually finishing anything. Everything is a work in progress. Every day you have to do the same things over an over, and there's rarely that satisfying feeling of accomplishment and closure.

Ah-ha! I found the article: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/06/17/619557786/stay-at-home-dads-still-struggle-with-diapers-drool-stigma-and-isolation

Bildner says he finds that men often have trouble breaking out of the work mindset and getting into the world of parenting. At work, he explains, projects tend to be linear — the goal is to finish one task and move forward to the next, then hit the next goal, the next milestone.

But parenting isn't linear, Bildner says. It's more like the ocean.

"The tide comes in, the tide goes out. The house is clean, then it's dirty. Your child is happy, now she's sad. She's tired, now she's rested."

Bildner gestures at the kids scampering around his carpeted basement. "An hour ago, this room was completely clean," he says. "Now it's wrecked."

As a parent, Bildner says, you have to have a different vision of progress. "You just have to accept that things get done and undone all the time. Your job is to just go with that," he says.

Accepting the ebb and flow of a child's world can be hard for a man who expects something he's fixed to stay fixed.

 
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I see a few things at play, here:
1. She's the oldest child, which means That, at least for a while, she was the only child, and some level of resentment can easily form, toward subsequent siblings. Even if it doesn't noticeably manifest in other things, as the oldest begins to assert their independence (a good thing - in the long run), any issues in this vein can - and probably will rear their ugly heads.

2. She's 13. That, in and of itself, can be monumental. Hormones - whether she has begun her menses, or not, are beginning to go absolutely nuts, and (you don't &) she doesn't have a clue what to do with that. This can be terrifying for both of you, and will often result in anger, as a defense mechanism.

3. If she is doing things that she sees as taking care of you, or taking over for you, she may feel that she is 'the grown-up', and then has the 'right' to 'parent' you, as well as her siblings, in other ways.

4. All the above can leave her thinking that YOU are somehow accountable, to HER, instead of the other way around.

My 'kids' are 34, (almost)31, & 22. My step 'kids' are 21 & 16. I'm also one of 11kids, from parents who also had big families. I've been part of, or personal witness to a lifetime of these phases of life, and can tell you it's normal. Not pleasant, from anyone's perspective, including hers - but, normal. I've seen/experienced it handled in a wide variety of ways, some more smoothly than others. Typically, the most effective way to manage it includes a combination of firmness and frank discussion. The real key is a combination of timing and tone. My dad's rule was, 'just do as you are told, and ask questions, later'. I found the method very effective, too - with both my own kids, and my step kids.

For example(names changed):
Me: "Gina, after dinner, I want you to wash the dishes."
Gina: " Why do **I** have to do everything?!? Tim never does ANYTHING, and I have to do EVERYTHING!"
Me (in my firmest, brook no nonsense voice): "I'm not asking, I'm telling. Just do it."
Gina (who knows that tone, and the consequences of rebelling against it): "ok..." (insert teenage grumbling-under-her-breath, here)
Me(still firmly): "We'll talk about this, later"
Sometime later, after the chore is done, everyone is calm, and I'm ready:
Me (kindly, but without *any* sign of capitulation, or feelings of guilt): "Gina, do you really think you always do everything, and no one else ever does anything?"
Gina: "kind of, yeah."
Me: "Well, then, it looks like we need to talk about it - calmly. Agreed?"
Gina(possibly with a bit of reluctance):"ok"
The conversation moves from there, into a very adult, factual, kindly-yet-unapologetic explanation of who does what - when, and (maybe) why. Once that is established, then you can move into how she feels about it, and why you feel so disappointed and hurt (not guilty - ever), when she argues with you, especially when you are sick, exhausted, etc. After everything else is said...
Me:"I love you, and I know that sometimes, it is going to be upsetting, and feel unfair, when an extra responsibility falls to you, but I need to know that I can count on you to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, without argument. We can always talk about it later, if you still feel the need, but this is how it has to be."

But you should not feel guilty for needing - and expecting your family's help. Family stays strong because family helps one another. You're teaching them all how to not only take responsibility for their own behavior, but how to be compassionate, loving, helpful, productive, and even independent human beings.


 
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