I’m pretty sure I can confidently say, that we have all at some stage felt frustrated with our child for not doing their household chores or responsibilities, or resorted to nagging to get them to finish a project or tidy their room? Well for me, nagging about these things has been a daily activity for as long as I can remember, where I end up frustrated and reacting to the huffing and puffing or from being completely ignored.
I stopped recently to take a closer look at what was happening in my parenting sphere, the tactics and the patterns I had fallen into. I didn’t like how it felt in my body when I resorted to endless attempts to motivate as a parent, and I realised that not only was it a way that I had adopted from generations before me, but it was a way that commonly operates in the work environment too.
Denying’ or using ‘fear’ of a consequence is a common option for parents. I’ve been the receiver of this way to motivate as well as the instigator too. “If you don’t do your chores, then you are not getting _____________.” In my experience, this gives only short term compliance, where the chores or activity might get done, but usually with a level of defiance, without the care needed, or in anger and bitterness, leading to far more tension.
‘Rewarding’ was the other option. “If you do your chores, then we will / you can have __________________.” This too can work, but once again the compliance is short-term. The next week, I find myself needing another motivator, something desirable to offer as an enticement for the activity to be done.
At school the students are rewarded endlessly with stickers, awards, prizes … anything to encourage good behavior, learning and compliance. I understand why these things are used, because human beings can be stubborn and wayward, even the little ones. So when you have say 25 or so in a classroom, giving away a pencil or a sticker and encouraging others to want one too, seems like a simple solution. The trouble with this though, is that it is, once again, a short term solution, that works only when you have something of value – something the other wants. And yet in time, what another wants, seems to escalate and the demands can get higher and more expensive too!
These ways of so-called ‘working together‘ feel horrible. I don’t like the trickery, the tension and emotion that is there nor do I like the fact that there is no respect, honouring of another nor equality. Not only does it create frustration, but bitterness and resentfulness as well. It’s a continual set up for there to be disharmony, and in the long term we accept this to be the way the relationship is, although we are uncomfortable all the while.
Failure to fulfil chores in the home, can take me to the end of my tether where I concede that it would be easier to just do it myself. Resorting to doing everything myself though, doesn’t allow the other person to learn about responsibility, and about being part of a family or group, to step up when needed, to offer support when you feel another is going under, and all of this affects the quality of our relationships.
What are these tactics used in parenting and in society really doing to us though? There is the imbalance of power, where something is held over our heads, and like a puppy looking for a treat, we find ourselves willing to do the dance to get what we want. Where is the respect in this? Where is the equality in this? Where is the love or the sense of regard and responsibility in this?
There are jobs that just need to be done in our lives, and some are considered to be much more mundane or worse than others, like picking up the dog poo and cleaning the shower … but nevertheless, they are all equally important.
What if we all completely avoided these mundane jobs, where we didn’t pick up the dog mess or clean the shower or do that boring task for your boss because we just don’t want to? In the long term, the environment would become very messy, we would have to live with the obvious disregard, there would be tension between people, and eventually it would be a place we would want to avoid.
So how do we do uninteresting things, without the burden and heaviness we create in our bodies as we make it clear to all around that we do not want to do those jobs?
There is only one real option here that works. Feel the grander purpose.
You may ask how there can be a grander purpose in cleaning up the yard and I will answer, it’s the feeling. When I clean up the garden and have the lawn mowed, the end result feels amazing, like a real accomplishment. I revel in the feeling and beauty that comes from it being so neat and tidy, the order and lightness, the love that has been given to the yard. This is great, but there is something in it that needs to be said that makes it so gorgeous.
If I clean up the yard in a crazy and racy way, which is how I once chose to work, then the exhaustion, angst and pressure from the growing list of jobs and emotions I incite, is what I would carry in my body as I went about the day. Sure, the garden might look great at the end, but I’ve worked in an energy that hasn’t been a healthy way to live.
When I clean up the yard in an honouring way, appreciating how it supports me and what it offers, and when I stop to rest, enjoy being in the sun, have a chat to my neighbor, play with the puppies, feel how great it is when I pick the vegetables or cut flowers for inside … then the whole experience is something to enjoy. Then, when I am asked about my weekend, even though it may be full of these mundane tasks, I can feel a sense of contentment within.
And yet there is so much more to be read about the moments in our life that make even the mundane so much more.
Over the past few years, the dogs in the neighbourhood would do their business on my front verge or in my front yard. This would make me crazy wild, and there was nothing I could do about it, as it happened in the darkness of night. There was no owner to talk to, nothing that could be resolved, and yet each night the same thing would happen, and I couldn’t make it stop … I couldn’t control this from happening.
Recently, I came to realise that this was providing a reflection to me that could in fact be a great big turn around point. If I stayed stuck in thinking that said “I always pick up my dog’s poo, why doesn’t another do it too” (which I did until now) then I would miss the opportunity to see what the true message might be.
I came to realise that quite often there is much more playing out than what our five senses will allow us to know and this dog poo on my front lawn saga, helped me to feel just how much I allow the disregard of another to affect me each day, and how I might disregard others as well. So with a contented heart and a newfound sense of responsibility I simply began to pick up the dog poo on my verge and enjoy the feeling of the cleanliness that returned.
As I explored the tactics around parenting even more, I also had to accept that there was ‘nothing’ I could do to control another and although I could resort to denying or rewarding to incite motivation, I knew from how I felt inside that it absolutely was not the way.
Ultimately, we can’t make another change or do anything if they have chosen otherwise – it must come willingly from within. Of course, we all make choices every single day and these choices can impact on another and often have natural consequences. Understanding and accepting this is a great first step, as is understanding that all we can do is communicate and make choices with what is before us. I have discovered that there are no rules to this, for sometimes, it is loving to allow another the space to do their chores after they have completed what they feel needs to be done first, although this does not mean pandering to those who just wanting to check out and not step up.
There certainly must be a give and take in relationships but this requires an openness to communicate, not a mexican standoff or games that are really just abusive towards each other. At other times, we might need to firmly communicate what we are seeing play out and be OK about saying No too, for asking another to be more of who they really are when we observe another choosing less, is absolutely loving. There are times when we know someone is buttering us up for something, or where we are being manipulated, and we must be willing to read it all.
I realise this is not a miracle cure by any means. This is never going to be a 1 + 1 = 2 situation with a perfectly calculated outcome each time. Perhaps though that is the substance that deepens our relationships and helps us to expand.
We can read every little detail in our lives and from here we are given amazing revelations – the mundane, it appears, is not so mundane at all.
Doing a task while dragging our feet serves nothing at all, it just smashes ourselves on the inside and causes disharmony around. Finding a grander purpose in all that we do allows us to find depth and understanding in our lives – a way that offers harmony and love. It allows room for change to be created, for another way. For all that we are, flows into all that we do.
Posted by mom262158, 13th August 2017