Written by Doctor G

Help for Parent with Disrespectful Teen – OMG! (part 1)

teenager, attitude, parent, parentingI have two step daughters 12 & 14. The fourteen year old is a very good person but can be very disrespectful when angry and she is angry when she has to do something she doesn’t want to do like laundry, feeding the dogs, dishes, cleaning her room etc. She will talk back and talk down to me and her Mom (Mom is very lenient) and will not stop unless I threaten to take away cell phone and I know that is not always the answer. She is very ungrateful all the time and we do everything within our boundaries.  She is in High School Band,Theater, and other functions which are great. Her grades are above excellent.

James, in TX

Step-parenting is really hard! And parenting fourteen year olds is really hard! This is such a meaty question, that I’m going to answer it in two posts. So I hope you’ll come back later in the week for the second half.

The inherent question here is “How can we get this girl to accept and live up to her responsibilities without the bad attitude?”

Today let’s talk about the very reasonable responsibilities you want her to accomplish.

Accepting responsibility.

James, the first thing I’d recommend is making a list of all the chores that have to get done around your home. A very long list. Then mark the ones that must be done by you or your wife. Next, sit down as a family of four and ask the girls to help you divvy up the chores that are left. They can give suggestions about:

  • Which chores they will each take on.
  • If the chores will rotate, and how often.
  • How frequently each chore needs to be done.

Fulfilling responsibility.

Now you need more input from your step-daughters. It’s important to note that you involve both of them equally in these conversations and decisions. This is not a singling out or punishment, it is about family obligations. Ask the girls to help decide:

  • When each chore is “due” and therefore when it is late.
  • What the reminder system should be for the whole family about all the chores.
  • What the consequences are for not doing a chore.
  • What the consequences are for not doing any chores, or failing to do the same chore repeatedly. Make these chore-specific more than kid-specific.
  • If there will be positive consequences for well-done, timely chores, and what those might be.

Make this into a system that makes sense and write it down. Then post it where everyone will see it often.

Thursday we’ll tackle getting her to do this with a smile!


Do you have a system for monitoring chores without screaming?

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