Help, my mom’s turning me into a slave . . .

By admin
19 August 2014

We usually give advice to mothers, but this time it’s children who are desperately looking for a solution. It’s a good idea for SuperMoms to read this article too, however, because their own kids could be wrestling with the same problem.

We usually give advice to mothers, but this time it’s children who are desperately looking for a solution. It’s a good idea for SuperMoms to read this article too, however, because their own kids could be wrestling with the same problem.

Anja* is a girl at the end of her tether because her mother is swamping her with work. Her family doesn’t have a domestic worker and Anja’s mom expects her to clean the house, cook and provide the household with emotional support.

Her sister is allowed to laze about to her heart’s content while Anja – a full-time university student who also does charity work – has to perform all the household duties and consequently has no time to herself.

Anja just doesn’t know what to do and how to broach the subject with her mom. She’d also like to forge a closer bond with her mother and be able to spend quality time with her family.

Johannesburg family counsellor Stephanie Dawson-Cosser says the root of Anja’s problem lies in the family dynamic which has been disturbed because they no longer have a domestic worker.

“Anja’s dissatisfaction with her family dynamic could point to a deeper need to cultivate a relationship with her mother,” Dawson-Cosser says.

This is what she suggests Anja does to broach the subject with her mom:

  • She should sit down with her mom and the rest of the family to raise and discuss the problem.
  • Use “I” statements when explaining her experience instead of saying things such as “you do this” and “you do that”. By explaining things from her perspective she’ll come across as less judgmental and her mother and family will gain some insight into how she experiences the situation.
  • Anja must be prepared to listen to her mother’s stance and opinions. “Her mother could provide an explanation for why the family no longer has a domestic worker,” Dawson-Cosser says.
  • Anja must also bear in mind the rest of her family may also contribute in ways she isn’t necessarily aware of.
  • “Instead of just going to her mom with the problem, Anja could also come up with solutions,” Dawson-Cosser says. It will make the discussion easier if Anja suggests something such as a roster according to which every member of the family gets a turn to cook or clean.

Dawson-Cosser gives the following advice when it comes to the fine line between teaching your kids the value of hard work, and making them feel like slaves.

  • Include your kids in household tasks from a young age so they become accustomed to responsibility, and do their bit.
  • Show your children you appreciate their hard work. “When children see their work is appreciated, they will be encouraged to do it again because they feel their contribution is important.”
  • To prevent asking some children to work while allowing others to laze about, mothers should remember all their children need love and appreciation.   “Give your children age-related tasks, and more privileges the older and more adult they become.”

-Mieke Vlok

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