Before you judge me, let me try and describe life with a brand-new teen, so you understand my frame-of-mind when IT first happened.
I went to bed one night with three lovely children who loved loved loved me, and woke up with two lovely children and one who hated me because it was raining.
And I didn’t even make it rain.
Since then I’ve suffered repeat whiplash from his mood changes. I never know which child is waking up or coming home from school.
The one who loves me, or the one who hates me.
That’s why I paid my teenage son $100 to help me move furniture around the house one stress-filled day. Because I just couldn’t deal with the drama of having to convince him to help.
I was only going to do it once. Famous last words, right? I’ve now done it eight times.
And it’s got to stop.
But going cold turkey seems so hard, for me let alone him.
For instance, earlier this week I urgently had to go to the shops and needed my teen to look after his little brother and sister for me for just a few minutes, which required him coming out of his room. I was in a rush and when he asked, “How much”, I didn’t hesitate.
“I’ll give you $20 when I get back,” I called out as I raced out the door.
Then the snowball kept on rolling.
I asked him to feed the dog.
He asked for $10 to spend buying gems for a game he was playing called Clash of… something.
I needed help carrying the groceries into the house.
He scored $15 which was all I had in my purse.
Since I started paying him to help me, I’m always broke but life has been so much easier. To ask him to do something and then have him smile (because he is about to be paid) is wonderful.
Why can’t he be like this all the time?
I know I have to stop. But how?
The only person I felt could help me with this self-inflicted dilemma was parent-of-three teens, author, presenter and golfer Andrew Daddo, and that is why I burst into the podcast studio where he was recording This Glorious Mess with Holly Wainwright, and asked him for help.
As a mother of toddlers, Holly couldn’t help much except to make me tea, hand me tissues and secretly think her kids will be different when they grow up.
Daddo, on the other hand gave me a cold, hard piece of advice.
Teens, translated. Article continues after this video.
He said I have to put my foot down, and then turn the tables. “Next time they ask you to do something, or take you somewhere, ask them, ‘How much?’. You have to say ‘No’ to them.”
I begged off a little, asking if I could make my move during school holidays in a week when I was rested and he was in a better mood.
Andrew reluctantly agreed that would be okay.
So I have a few days to practice it in my head. In fact I might have to write it down and read it out, because my teen is quite the debater.
Why did I think getting him to join the debating team was a good idea?
Listen to the full episode of This Glorious Mess.
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Former teens and parents of teens, what is your advice for getting teenagers to lend a hand without resorting to bribery? Answer is the Comments section below.