On Children Who Won’t Listen, Discpline, and How to Pay for an Adoption

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Why don’t kids listen? My 11-year-old daughter doesn’t do anything she’s told. I wash and fold her clothes, and all I ask is for her to put them up. She won’t do it, and she just tosses dirties on top of the clean clothes. Every day I tell her to clean out the cats’ litterbox and give them fresh water. I’ve told her many times not to leave dishes in her room, but I find plates and glasses with mold on them under her bed. I’ve taken her phone and laptop, but that doesn’t seem to work. The only thing that works is a spanking, but I don’t want to hit her.


There’s no magic bullet for this problem. I assume the cat litter eventually gets changed, and that the clean clothes get put away and the moldy dishes get washed.

You have demonstrated that you’re willing to do the work if your daughter refuses. Given that scenario, why should she work?

It’s time for you to get creative, and to get tough. So far, you only know of one punishment that works, and you don’t want to use it. Well then, it’s time to find some new ones.

First, stop cleaning up her messes. Take over cat care and other family- or pet-related chores yourself for now, and instead give the girl additional duties that directly affect her. Let her know that unless she puts away her clothes and brings the dirties to the laundry room, you’ll stop washing them. Then, if she doesn’t change her ways, stop doing her laundry. She can either comply with house rules, wear dirty and wrinkled clothes, or learn to launder her own garments.

If dishes are a problem, let your daughter know that all of the dishes she uses are just deposits on future food. She gets to eat her next meal when she returns them to the kitchen – and for good measure, washes them.

This isn’t rocket science. Just make the punishment fit the crime, and teach your daughter that if she fails to follow your house rules and help make the home run smoothly, she will create more work for herself.

Second, keep trying on the denial of privileges. If the phone isn’t enough, bar her from the TV. Or perhaps if she disobeys the rules, she’ll get no desserts for three days. If she doesn’t weed the garden, no playing with friends.

Everybody puts different values on freedoms or privileges. Your job is to find out what your daughter values, then make those privileges contingent on her doing her part around the house.

Third, be consistent. Punishments work better if they apply every time a child disobeys. I don’t care if it’s her birthday, or if Grandma is at the house, or if the girl just brought home an A on a math test. If the punishment for failing to put away the clothes is doing the laundry, then Grandma will just have to sit in the living room and talk to you while the girl works.

Take firm steps to stop this now, because rebellion issues like the one you describe tend to worsen over time.


Is it OK for people to hold fund-raisers to finance adopting a child?


Such fund-raising sounds a lot like begging. In some families, people routinely request monetary gifts to help with important purchases, and you will sometimes see money trees at functions such as baby showers or housewarming parties. But a lot of people find such blatant money-seeking offensive.

Is it morally wrong to hold an adoption fund-raiser? No. Would the idea of a fund-raising party to cover adoption expenses make a lot of people feel uncomfortable? Most certainly yes.

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