28 Feb
This House is not an Equal Opportunity Employer

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

My 14 year old daughter does some cleaning jobs around the house to make extra money. My son (12) recently asked if he could do that too, and I agreed. Should he be paid the same as my daughter is even though he is younger and doesn’t do as good of a job as she does?

Signed,
EOE

___________________________________

Dear EOE,

Oh, how I envy you. At the moment, my kids are still only 3 and 5, and think “cleaning” means throwing things into a corner while simultaneously sobbing about their torment and petitioning the cats for amnesty from their wretched mother. (And that’s WITH bribery, unfortunately.)

But back to your situation. I firmly believe that there is no reason to pay both kids the same amount “just because.” Is this how the real world operates? Hell no! In fact, when one of them complains, tell them to just be happy they aren’t being TAXED! Or that the national gender wage gap doesn’t apply this fiscal year! OR THAT THEY AREN’T WORKING IN SWEATSHOPS, you ungrateful little–

Where was I?

I think the important thing to remember here is that, before you set up any type of allowance agreement, think about age-appropriate chores for each child. Also, be clear about what type of performance is expected from each one of them. For example, having the five year-old manage the electric bill will not “help him learn responsibility” as much as it will “show him how quickly his parents break with the power shut off for DAYS ON END.”

Not that I’m speaking from experience.

Especially since your kids are a little bit older, you don’t need to stress as much about being “fair.” But if you are worried about that,  I’d suggest going with a performance-based pay scale. If they’re both doing the exact same quality of work, then perhaps they should be paid the same amount. I’m guessing, however, that there will be a bit of  a lapse between the two, in which case, pay accordingly.

Of course, this will be a bumpy road at first, as you’ll probably have to deal with some fallout regarding gender relations and glass ceilings and possibly a civil lawsuit that leads to parental emancipation, but these can all be learning opportunities, amirite?! Minor squabbles and doubts about the validity of your love as a mother are nothing when compared to the glimpse of the “real world” you’ll be giving them.

Warm regards,

Kristine, TMH

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27 Dec
Call The Exterminators, Honey. We Have Teenagers.

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

My 15 year old son is very disrespectful. He argues all the time and he lies. I’ve grounded him. I’ve taken everything away. He just doesn’t care. I don’t know what else to do. Are there any other options?

Signed,

Beyond My Wit’s End

—————————————————–

Dear Beyond My Wit’s End,

Unfortunately, it does sound like your home has a full-blown teenager infestation. You could call an exterminator or an exorcist? But once a home has been taken over by these extremely hormonal hominids it can be very difficult to get rid of them until voting age begins and even then it’s not a guarantee. They may even leave only to return at the age of 30.

One tactic you may not have tried yet is to take advantage of the teenager’s strong distaste for embarrassment and their stalwart denial of parental existence. This approach will require you to undergo a bit of a transformation. Nothing says dedicated parental units like a middle-aged Snooki and a 50-year old Biebs showering affection on their teenage son, in public, in full view of hundreds of his “closest” friends and acquaintances. After one of these interactions it’s quite possible to get your son to shape up simply out of fear of a replay.

Another option, although less creative and exciting, can be counseling for the teenager alone and, also for the family together. This can be extremely helpful given that the brain, mainly the cerebral cortex where planning, self-control, and judgment are developed, in a fifteen year old hasn’t yet fully matured (and won’t until the early 20’s…sorry). In short, the main focus of the teenage years is to live through them with minimal damage. This can be helped along by a trained therapist and some bite guards for the parents. Also, wine….lots of wine…for the mom.

Good Luck,

Tonya, TMH

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24 Oct
My Mom Has Hit the Roof!

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

What do you do when your mom is so mad at you that she wants you out of the house?

Signed,

Asking for a Friend

__________________________________

Dear Asking for a Friend,

Your question doesn’t tell us much about your situation. But the fact that you’re reaching out for help seems to be a good sign, I’d say, and suggests you’re up to the task of trying to patch up this disconnect with your mom. So, good for you!

::flashes cool, hip, trendy, teenager hand gesture::

Because I don’t know the particulars, I figured we could work ourselves through some typical teenager/parent discord scenarios. Let’s say you’re a teenaged girl who has just lied to her mother and spent the night out partying with friends, making poor decisions about your health, and engaging in morally questionable activities with boys. For, like, the third time. (Just off the top of my head. Ahem.)

Or let’s say you’re a teenaged boy that’s gotten caught up with the wrong crowd, strung a web of lies that all started when you played hookie one day from school, rigged your bed to make it look like you were home sleeping, stole a friend’s father’s car, crashed a ritzy NYC restaurant, attended a major league baseball game, nearly got foiled by your sister named Jennifer Grey, and drove your school principal into early retirement.

Or maybe you’ve just moved to a small, country town, where rock-n-roll dancing has been outlawed, and you start a dancing revolution that gets you arrested and gives the whole town something to talk about and puts the name Kevin Bacon on the map, and then they go and remake it AND EVERYTHING IS RUINED BY YOU YOUNGSTERS AND IS NOTHING SACRED ANYMORE?!

Excuse me. Where was I? Oh, right…

For any one of these situations, your mother is going to be feeling betrayed, powerless, and completely sick with worry about whether you’ll make it to age 20. Fortunately, they all call for the same solution in working to correct the situation: you talk. You talk to your mother and understand each other. You listen to her concerns. You tell her about your feelings. And you reach an agreement about how you move forward, and YOU STICK TO IT. Your mom wants to be able to trust you, and the only way to regain that is to put your words to action, and start stepping up a bit. It may seem nearly impossible, but I’m pretty sure it’ll be the best decision you’ve ever made. Or, you know, your friend.

::flashes cool, hip, trendy, teenager hand gesture::

Go get ’em, tiger!

Kristine, TMH

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17 Oct
Help! My Babysitter Only Has One Name, Like Cher

Dear Mouthy Housewives,

We have an incredible babysitter. She’s our neighbor’s teenage granddaughter and she is just the sweetest thing. She always plays with the kids and she even washed the dinner dishes one time without being asked. Amazing! Here’s the rub: we have no idea what her last name is. To be honest, we only use her maybe 3 or 4 times a year and our kids are school age, not babies. But it hit me the other day that we’re leaving the kids with someone when we didn’t even know her last name. Does this make us terribly irresponsible parents?

Signed,

No Name, No Problem?

_______________________

Dear No Name, No Problem,

As every parent knows, a good babysitter is hard to find. You want someone who’s responsible, dependable, nice to your kids and also on a very strict diet so she won’t eat all of the cheesecake and Dove chocolates you stash in the recycling bin. It can be a tall order.

That’s why it’s no big surprise that you didn’t do your due diligence when you found this young lady. You like her, your kids like her and she’s related to your neighbors—why bother with something as silly as last names? After all, none of the evil babysitters in Lifetime movies have last names. The middle-aged wife usually just sobs something like, “Yes, detective, she stole my Honda Odyssey and my husband! She’s blonde and her name is Madison, that’s all I know! Oh, Gawd, why is this happening?!” and then 40 minutes later, Madison No Last Name Required is in an orange jumpsuit and handcuffs and on her way to meet her new prison girlfriend. I’ve seen it a million times.

But if it’s important to you that you find out her surname, here’s a trick you can try: The next time she’s there, tell her you have to pay her via check, then ask her how to spell her last name. There’s a 50/50 chance it’ll be something obvious like, “Smith” and then she’ll think you’re a dumbass, but at least you’ll finally know.

Or, simply tell your kids to find out for you. Maybe they can play a game called, “Census Taker” or “DMV Registration Lady” and have her fill out a form with her information. She won’t be the wiser and, if you’re lucky, you may even get her social security number.

Which will definitely come in handy if she ever drives your minivan to Mexico with your husband.

Good luck,

Wendi, TMH

 

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29 Sep
Because You Can’t Keep A Teenager In A Cage. Even Though You Should.

The word “teenager” strikes fear into many a heart, more than “zombies” or “apocalypse” or “Jerry Springer for President” ever could. I’m not sure I’ve ever met a parent who doesn’t have some back-up plan in place for when their precious son or daughter turns into that moody, self-absorbed, hormonal monster from ages 13-19. This usually involves some form of confinement like boarding school, a mountain cabin, or crate training. And the reason for this is that we are all terrified; scared of the poor decisions our teenagers will make, the least of which is whether or not to give in to peer pressure.

Image source

How do we know to be this fearful? Because we’ve all been there! At 15, I remember thinking it was completely reasonable to do a beer bong after three wine coolers at a party where my friend and I knew absolutely no one. Because being a drunk teenage girl in the middle of a house full of strangers is completely safe.

My mother and step-father were cops so I did, in fact, know better. To this day, my sister and I can recite verbatim a fair number of stories where our mom had to be the one to knock on a parent’s door and tell them their teenager had been killed in a drunk driving accident. And yet, we didn’t listen. It’s only by sheer luck that we are both still here.

These days, I’m a fairly relaxed parent. For example, my son is able to wear whatever he wants, whenever he wants, even if that means I’m accompanying a pirate to the grocery store in the middle of summer. But when I think of his teenage years, I become less laid back. I still believe in giving a child the space and freedom to make choices. However, I also know that once those hormones kick in and there’s a driver’s license involved, all logic goes out the window and peer pressure is paramount. In those instances, a device like Soberlink  can be instrumental. If you have a teenager, take a few minutes to check this out:

In my opinion, there are just some situations where a choice shouldn’t be an option. What do you think? Do you agree? Would you use something like Soberlink when your teenager takes the car out for a night on the town?

– Tonya, TMH

Thank you to Soberlink for sponsoring this post.

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