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Sister Won't Do Chores

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: I have a 10-year-old sister who doesn't do her chores at home unless I really pester her to. I've tried hinting, making funny comments about all the piles of dirty clothes, making jokes and even ignoring the state of her room and the plates she never washes when she finishes eating. Our parents are very busy but have also tried their best. When asked, she just said she doesn't like doing her housework. I tried to explain to her that she has to whether she likes it or not, but she didn't seem very convinced and said that in that case I'll just have to go on nagging her till she does what she is supposed to do. I certainly don't like that idea. What should I do?

A: Disciplining your sister is not your job, it's your parents. It's clear your sister is not pulling her fair share of the housework load. But continuing to nag, joke and hint about her lack of responsibility will only get you more of her refusals. She's treating this like a game.

Ask your parents to have a serious talk with you about your concerns regarding your sister. Tell them you need their promise that they will handle this situation. Your sister is being allowed too much power in your family and she's enjoying it.

I know it takes lots of courage to ask your parents to do their job, when it comes to your sister's behavior. But you have a right to have a better family life; you're doing your jobs responsibly. Let me know what your parents do after your discussion. If they don't treat your complaints seriously, tell them you would like to see a counselor to discuss this with. Good luck.

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Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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