The original poster (OP) is a mother of five children. Her husband of 13 years works full-time while she stays at home with the kids. Needless to say, their budget is tight. They live in a small, three-bedroom townhouse and don’t have a dishwasher. She says they live a frugal lifestyle because of having a large family, student loans, and a mortgage. She says they have taught their children to contribute to chores since they were young.
Last week it was her 9-year-old daughter’s turn to clean the dishes. But she kept getting distracted by her siblings and didn’t finish them. Whenever OP entered the kitchen, she wasn’t there, and she had to go find her and bring her back. She complained that the water made her hands itchy and there were too many dishes. Eventually, it was bedtime, so OP told her to do them the next day.
But every day was the same excuse. OP would leave her to do the dishes, and then she would wander off to play outside or sit and watch tv. Then she complained that even more dishes were in the sink than before. By midweek, OP told her daughter, “If you don’t finish these dishes by tomorrow at bedtime, I will cancel your birthday party.” At first, her daughter cried, but then she didn’t seem like she believed OP would actually cancel the party. Her daughter washed a few dishes and then went out to play.
On Thursday, OP said her daughter acted like the dishes didn’t exist and didn’t try to do them all. So at the end of the day, she told her the party was off. Her daughter had a massive tantrum and said she was ruining her birthday, and she only turned 10 once. On her birthday on Friday, OP sent messages to the parents of the kids they had invited to let them know the party was canceled. OP let her daughter pick what she made for dinner and baked her a cake, but she was still very grumpy.
The party was on Saturday, and a few people who didn’t get the message had to be turned away. Her daughter wouldn’t leave her room and was miserable with her siblings. OP’s sister said she was being too harsh and traumatized her daughter. But OP’s husband says it isn’t anybody’s business, and their daughter needs to learn there are consequences to not helping around the house.
OP allowed her sister and parents to come over and bring her some gifts on Sunday after her daughter finished cleaning the dishes. It became a family party with the aunts, siblings, and grandparents. The next day some of the school kids gave her the gifts they had purchased for the party. After all that, OP says her daughter was still moping around, and getting her to do her chores seems even more challenging.
She is reaching out to the online community to ask if she was wrong to cancel her daughter’s birthday party?
The response that received the most votes was not on OP’s side.
“She kept getting distracted by her siblings? So she was cleaning up after 7 people and watching her siblings. What were you doing? Clearly not parenting.”
“Stay-at-home parent. I get it, it’s hard. I work from home with 3 kids, but they have school, and I get crap done because I’m the mum, and it’s my job. Sounds like the kids are taking more responsibility than the parents here!”
“I also think it’s crazy to have a child that age do all the dishes for dinner for 7 people. That’s at least 7 dinner plates, cutlery sets, glasses, and whatever serving ware they happened to use…..and potentially the pots/pans used for cooking too if OP decided those were the kid’s responsibility as well. Chores are a great way to teach kids responsibility and self-sufficiency, but this seems a bit much.”
Many readers were appalled that a child was cleaning dishes for 7 family members alone. Also, if she complained about itchy hands, why not get her some gloves?
“OP mentions the daughter complaining about her hands getting itchy. So she’s washing the dishes BY HAND (no machine) AND WITHOUT GLOVES. WHY DON’T THEY HAVE GLOVES?!”
One reader did say that she isn’t wrong for holding her child accountable for not completing her chores. But OP still handled the situation wrong.
“You are NTA for holding your child responsible for doing chores and following through on a stated consequence. But YTA for failing to implement a more reasonable consequence immediately — or the first, second, third, fourth, or fifth time you tried to get her to do the dishes. I’m surprised YOU allowed this to go on for days.
- You could stand there and monitor her while she does the dishes, so she can’t get distracted.
- You could help her get started or help her sort the dishes into piles.
- You could offer to dry.
- You could bring whatever you’re doing into the kitchen to keep her company and talk while she does them.
- You could blast her favorite music and try to make it fun.
- You could create an incentive (set a timer, and if you finish in 20 minutes, we will ___).
- You could set a boundary that she cannot go outside and play until dishes are done (and enforce it!)
- If you want punishments, you could take away screen time, a favorite toy, a privilege, outside time, or something else she would miss.
There were just a lot of exit ramps between point A and point Cancelling the Birthday Party.”
What do you think? Was she wrong to cancel the birthday party because her daughter didn’t complete her chores all week? Is washing the dishes for seven people too much for a 10-year-old to handle?
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