Dad resists going on strike

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

It's tough being a parent. Not only do you have to raise your children, you have to do all those household chores too -- from laundry to dishes.

Getting children to help isn't easy. They're often too busy hanging out in their bedrooms playing video games or watching television to lift a finger.

So you can sympathize with Cat and Harlan Barnard of Deltona, Fla., who were frustrated with the lack of help at home from their 17-year-old son and 12-year-old daughter.

Last month, they went on strike and moved out to their front yard. They lived in a tent, going inside the house only to use the restroom or shower. The couple sat on lawn chairs and roasted marshmallows over a hibachi.

Of course, it helped that they were living in Florida and not in some colder climate where they might have frozen to death to prove a point.

Their son confessed to a reporter that it was a big inconvenience for his parents to go on strike and let the dirty laundry and the dishes pile up.

Personally, I'm not ready to go on strike but I do understand the family's frustration.

Tidying up a house is a constant chore. Becca and Bailey often resemble human hurricanes in the comfortable confines of our home.

Their coats, shoes, socks and other clothing seem to take up permanent residence throughout the house without any warning. Bailey's dolls often hang out in the living room all night.

Becca, at least, used to keep her bedroom fairly neat. But as she approaches her 13th birthday and those dreaded teenage years, her room has become increasingly messy.

At times, I'm afraid to walk in her room for fear I'll slip on all those discarded clothes.

The always-open dresser drawers are a major challenge. My first instinct is to close the drawers, but then I'd have to navigate my way across the floor. That's too dangerous even for an experienced dad.

So I tell her to clean up her room while I turn on the football game.

There's an advantage to watching sports. There's nothing you have to clean up, unless it's the living room so you can find a place to sit on the couch.

During commercials you can fit in a load of dishes and put that load of washed towels in the dryer.

Getting your children to help would be priceless, yet highly unlikely.

Becca and Bailey do help on occasion, particularly if they view it as a fun task like cooking something that is really messy or tie-dying T-shirts.

As for doing dishes, that's a more mundane chore.

Becca told me recently that she doesn't do dishes because she doesn't want to touch other people's dirty plates. She has a thing about cleanliness as long as it doesn't involve her room.

Actually, I don't mind doing dishes.

It's more relaxing than trying to carry on a conversation with an almost-teenage daughter who is more concerned about mastering the intricacies of conference calls with friends than tidying up the house.

In my mind, if you're going to go on strike as a parent, it's best to do it while on a cruise or a trip to Hawaii rather than stuck in a tent in your front yard.

That way you don't have all those household chores staring you in the face, at least until the vacation ends.

Mark Bliss is a staff writer for the Southeast Missourian.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: