Does your child think that every other kid in the world has it easier than he or she does?

"None of my friends have to do chores!" they whimper at you as you sit with a blank expression folding their designer underwear.

Parents! Unleash yourselves! "Children are that they may help out ... " The Bible says. OK - that's not an actual quote from holy writ. But it's certainly not written anywhere that you are required to continually wipe up, pick up, fold up or clean up after your wonder teen.

You are not alone. Families are implementing chores worldwide. Even kids who play football, cheer-lead, game like a champion or who are on the student council are expected to help out, whether home is in Seattle, Spain or Sao Paulo.

Yes, there is an established difference between slavery and age-appropriate chores. And, yes, your kids will use this as a point in their case. No one wants to create a mini Cinderella or an indentured prince. We love our children. And because we love our children, we create a structured environment that utilizes - get this - structure.

Common rules and guidelines for your teen


  • Do not use cell phones while behind the wheel.

  • Share when more than one person needs the car. People with jobs come first. Kids can walk or take a bus to school unless there is a spare car available and they have a parent's approval. Hanging out takes no precedent whatsoever.

  • Each driver cleans the car up after himself - plus a little more to help out.

  • Park the car appropriately so that it can be easily used by another; and hang up the keys.

See? This isn't so hard. Try printing this list out - or one of your own - and post it on the fridge. Be prepared for a little push back. Be kind but firm. Time spent now will save you bail money later.


  • Private space must be kept clean. A parent is the judge of clean.

  • Laundry is to be contained in a bin and clean clothes are to be stacked, hung up or stored in a drawer.

  • If anything on the floor moves on its own, Dad will take a leaf blower to the room.


  • Clean up after yourself.

  • Hang up towels and do not leave behind dirty clothes unless you don't care what happens to them.

  • Please keep the fan going if you are using aerosol cologne.

  • Personal hygiene is to remain personal.

  • Each person in turn may need to clean the toilet, the tub, scrub the sink or the floor, or share those responsibilities in order to have a clean and sanitary bathroom. Please follow the schedule (Hint: Make a schedule).

Dishes and kitchen

  • Do your own dishes and make sure the kitchen is clean for the next person.

  • Everyone in turn may need to clean the counter tops, the fridge, the sink or share in those responsibilities based on the schedule (Remember the hint).

Food and eating

  • If you make food for yourself, please consider making enough for others and store leftovers in proper containers.

  • Please make appropriately sized meals and do not waste or ruin food by not cleaning up after yourself.

  • If someone has made a meal for you, consider helping out by cleaning up or doing something kind for that person.

Common areas

  • Please do not leave personal items in common areas: shoes, papers, art projects, medications, coats, book bags, etc.

  • To keep things clean and organized there is a bin stored in the coat closet for items not put away.

  • Common areas are cleaned by the commoners. This means you.


  • One does his own laundry plus a load of towels, rags, blankets or sheets when needed.

  • Please keep the laundry off of the floor.

  • Dry and clean clothes are to be placed in a bin for their owner to retrieve. Please be respectful of their clothes as you would want them to be respectful of yours (This is actually in the Bible, i.e, The Golden Rule).


  • There may be an allowance given for doing extra jobs or extra chores. If you want money for a phone upgrade, you know who to go to for an assignment.

  • If you expect more money than your parents allow, you may consider getting a part-time job. The pleasure of your presence, your mere existence, does not warrant a wage.

Important life lessons you may wish to express:

  • If a relationship problem develops between family members, someone may choose to not share their toys. "Toys" may include a car, an iPad or a laptop or a DVD (Refer to said Golden Rule).

  • If time is made for playing, time can be made for household responsibilities as well.

Now that you have freed yourself from the shackles of the permissive parent, try to figure out how you are going to pay for your wonder teen's college.

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