Ask Amy: Chores pile up as Dad piles on

Dear Amy: My husband and I have been married for a few years. It is a second marriage for both of us. He has custody of his children, who are in high school.

He recently accepted a new job that has him working about 60 hours a week.

I have agreed (willingly) to do everyday chores with the understanding that the kids pitch in. I do not work outside the home. The kids are asked to do very few chores (i.e. do their laundry, take out the garbage, unload the dishwasher and walk the dog).

My husband now tells me he doesn’t care if the kids do their jobs and doesn’t want me reminding them, though the kids have no problem with the “gentle” reminders. I always thank them and tell them that their dad will be happy when he gets home from work.

What gives? I cannot let the kids think they have no rules or responsibilities. I refuse to do everything while the kids play video games.

Any advice I can give my husband? I suggest we sit down with the kids and discuss a good solution for all of us. He doesn’t seem to care.

Amy says: Your husband does not have full custody of these kids — you both do. He is gone almost every waking hour, so really you have custody and (for now, anyway) he is passing through.

Understanding that you are (also) their parent might help clarify this issue.

If you are the “project manager” of your household, then you should be making everyday decisions about its functioning. This includes how to divvy up the workload.

For kids, having vital functions at home gives them a real stake in the outcome, teaching them important life skills and also a respect for the hard work of housework.

Otherwise, they become oozing lumps of flesh, permanently installed on the couch.

An analogy your husband might grasp is you coming into his workplace and letting the employees know that their functions aren’t really important and that the boss’ directives are really only suggestions.

A family meeting might help clear the air, but you also run the risk of your husband continuing to undermine you. Get on the same page before you two sit down with the kids.

Missed the wedding

Dear Amy: Our son got married Sunday. Our flight got canceled due to a hurricane. The wedding was a small barbecue wedding at their home, and we asked them if they could postpone it.

They said everything was set up already.

We said we would cover the cost to reschedule it. They decided to go ahead without us being there. Do you think this was the right decision?

Amy says: I assume that your flight cancellation was very last-minute, giving the couple little time to reschedule a wedding that (though small) was something they had carefully planned. There might have been others who had also made heroic efforts to be there.

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