Dear Kids,

Living in this house isn’t always easy. Just like being a teen isn’t easy. You see your friends who seemingly have no boundaries and all the baubles in the world and you wonder why. Why have you seven rules for living at homebeen placed in this house where there are horrid things like rules and limitations and boundaries? What did you do in your former life to deserve this, you cry to the sky? Well, I hate to break it to you, but you’ve got what you’ve got. Your dad and I believe that it is our job to raise three self-sufficient, independent young ladies and that’s what we’re going to do. There are too many of your friends that are going to flounder and fail when they’re finally unleashed (if that ever really happens in the heli-parent world) and I promise you that you will not be one of them.

I know that we’ve been talking about maybe one day giving you your own living accommodation in the yard, but unfortunately, that is quite a long way off. And if you do want that freedom of having your own space, you need to take a bit of responsibility around the house. Look how much good it did for your friends in Australia? They stepped up, and now their parents have decided to contact these builders of granny flats in Sydney to get the process started. We can take this option away from you in a heartbeat and we could decide to move my parents in instead, as there will come a day where they won’t be able to live by themselves anymore. This is your chance to show us that you are responsible, and who knows, maybe you’ll get your own living space before you know it?

So considering that you’re going to be stuck with us for the next several years – or at least until you figure out how to make millions on your own – I thought I would give you a list. Consider it an “employee handbook” if you will.

Here are the seven things that will make your life at home easier:

We don’t “owe” you anything so you can drop that sense of entitlement at the door. We bust our asses to give you what we can and more importantly – what we think you deserve. When we see those brand new jeans from American Eagle wadded up in a heap or hearing that you “lost” that North Face fleece that you BEGGED for last Christmas, it kinda makes us have no interest in buying you anything more expensive than $15 jeans at Target.

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You don’t HAVE to have a phone especially a smart phone. The only reason why you have one is so that I can reach you and the only reason you have a smart phone is because it was the same price as the regular phone. It is your responsibility to keep it safe and unbroken because if it gets lost or broken, your option will be to use the Pay as You Go phone that’s in the drawer until your contract comes due or do without. All your friends have phones and so does the school office. You can always use one of those to call us if you need to.

You do not tell us what you’re going to do. Rather, if you have an idea of something that you would LIKE to do, come to us with a complete plan that includes where you’d like to go, who you’d like to go with and how transportation is being handled. If you call me from said destination and say that so and so’s mom had no idea that she was bringing you home, I’ll come and get you but I won’t be happy and you won’t be going again. And here’s an insider’s tip: your chances at a “yes” are much better if your room is straight and you ask politely and not demand it. If it works with OUR schedule and what we have going on, most likely the answer will be yes. If I say no and you give me attitude, I’ll remember that for the next time. And yes, you have a curfew.

You don’t get paid for everything. There are certain things we expect you to do like clean your room and pick up after yourself. If we need you to watch a sibling, that’s expected as well. If I’m in the yard pulling weeds, why don’t you grab some gloves and help out? You don’t expect me to charge you for all the endless places that I have to take you, do you? Do you hear me asking you for money for feeding you 7 days a week? No. So don’t expect it from me. You want some cash? Do more work. There are chores where you can earn money – do some of those. And speaking of chores..

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If you’re going to do something, do it right the first time. Don’t do a half-ass job and then get upset with me when I call you to do it again. And then again. Take some pride in your work.. as my Dad always told me – would you proclaim to anyone that YOU did this job? If you wouldn’t want people to know you were the one who did it, do it again.

School is your job. It’s the most important thing that you do. Just like Dad and I do our best at our jobs so that we can provide for you, you must do your best. If you can’t keep your grades at at least at a “C” level, do not act surprised when you lose your privileges or get removed from a team or club that you belong on. Extra curricular activities are only for those who can keep their grades up. When I check parent portal and see things like homework not turned in and 50s on tests, expect to talk about it.

You get more flies with honey. Seriously.. if you could believe ONE thing that I tell you, it’s that. If the only time you’re nice to me is when you want something, I know that. If you really want to do something (see above) it would behoove you to be nice to me at least a good 4-6 hours before you hit me with “can I”. And if you’re in trouble or grounded? Here’s another insider tip: DO EXTRA STUFF AROUND THE HO– USE WITHOUT BEING ASKED! I guarantee you that your chances of getting a little time off for good behavior will go up tenfold.

I know this may seem cruel and unusual punishment but trust me when I say that you will thank us for this one day. When you’re stuck in that million dollar condo and can’t remember if you should put those red yoga pants in with your whites, you’ll be happy that we made you do your own laundry. Or when you get a review at your million dollar job that you’re not happy with, you’ll breathe a sigh of relief because we made you talk to your teacher about your bad grade instead of us rushing in to do it for you. As crazy as it sounds, yes – I promise – you’ll be grateful.