Dear Mr. Dad: I hate to admit it, but my children won’t listen to me—especially when I ask them to help around the house. As a result I end up doing everything myself. The other day, I asked them to help me wash the car, which was filthy. I waited, asked again, and nothing. So I went outside and did it myself. A few weeks before, I told them to take the dog for a walk, they ignored me and the dog ended up pooping on the carpet (you gave this as an example a few months ago—I can’t believe it actually happened), so I had to clean it up. I’ve tried giving them more warnings and have even threated to take away some of their privileges, but they just say things like, “Why should we wash the car? It’s not ours” or “He’s your dog—you’re the one who adopted him.” I’m getting angrier and angrier at them. Something has to change, but what?
A: You have every right to be angry, but you should direct that anger toward yourself. In a word, what needs to change is you. Or, more accurately, the way you allow your kids to treat you. By giving them endless warnings, making empty threats, and then doing yourself what you asked them to do, you’ve taught them several important lessons: (a) They don’t need to respect you, (b) If they ignore you long enough, you’ll eventually give up, (c) it’s okay to not be a team player.