I call it the ‘Broken Record Syndrome’ and I knew it well. Requesting, asking, demanding, sticking to my point until the thing got done. A sometimes victory in that it was done (with resentment) by the person who was nominated. Or else it was done by me (also with resentment). And so the cycle would continue. Broken record – job done – broken record … and an ever growing pile of resentment as a silent testament to the way things worked around here.
Not fun. Not joyful. And not what I wanted for my family.
If that’s you, and you’re tired of having those conversations on repeat, this post is for you.
The conversations sound the same. They’re usually about the same thing. And they often start and finish the same way.
In our house the ‘conversation’ used to start with me saying, “(insert name of child), can you empty the dishwasher?”
Occasionally a small miracle would occur and said dishwasher would be emptied promptly. In which case I would simply say, “Thanks!” and move the magnet to the next name on the list.
Usually though, the ‘conversation’ sounded like this:
“(insert name), can you empty the dishwasher?”
“(insert name), it’s your turn to empty the dishwasher.”
“(insert name), when you get home from school, make sure you empty the dishwasher.”
“(insert name), I need you to empty the dishwasher now.”
“(insert name), I won’t be taking you to … until the dishwasher is emptied.”
That’s five orders/reminders/threats which always ended with the dishwasher being emptied with resentment – and often it was me doing the emptying!
Not a great scenario for a loving, happy and joyful family life. Thankfully, we’ve changed. Now it’s far more likely to be, “Hey, (insert name), can you make sure the dishwasher is emptied? Thanks.” And the next time I come back through the kitchen the dishwasher is emptied and the dirty dishes on the bench are inside the dishwasher.
It’s taken us a wee while to get here, and I know you can too. Would I ever go back? No way!
So, what changed? The clear and consistent messaging I sent my teens. It sounded like this, “When the dishwasher isn’t emptied, the bench gets all messy. I resent having to do all this extra work before I can cook dinner.”
And then I shut up. And listened to their reply.
I got, “Oh, sorry mum,” and the dishwasher was emptied.
I got, “I’ll do it when I’ve finished eating my food.” “Sure, no problem,” I would reply and the dishwasher was emptied within 20 minutes.
I got, “I don’t have time now. I’ll do it in the morning.” Depending on the time of the statement, and what the teenager was doing, this was a longer conversation – although one that still resulted in the dishwasher being emptied.
The key change was the quality of the conversations: they are no longer a one way monologue from me. Now, they’re a two way dialogue that allows requests to be made, and responded to.
I can confidently say the dishwasher wars are over in our house. What a relief. We all get to spend more time together being the people we are. There is so much more laughter, love and togetherness now we’re through that phase.
This is just an example of emptying the dishwasher. The changes haven’t stopped there. Losing the resentment that accompanied the emptying of the dishwasher, and other menial tasks, has had a massive impact on us as a family. And I’d love that for you too.
‘Teen Talk’ is an online course that walks you through the ways you are communicating with the people you love and teaches you how to make the changes that will get everyone’s needs met. It’s been designed by me, a busy mum, for other busy parents. Lessons are in bite sized chunks of information and followed up with practical activities you can do without your teens even realising what you’re up to! Once they cotton on, they’ll be just as enthusiastic though.