Natural Consequences

So, jumping into parenting at the teen phase has taught me countless things, but this post is about one personality quirk of mine in particular.

I am a nag.

I know that my nagging is closely related to my control freakdom.

I nag Hope.

I kinda feel like I have to. She doesn’t do the things I ask when I ask; she barely does chores (even chore money doesn’t motivate her!). The levels of teenage apathy astound me. They are shocking, in part, because my parents never allowed it; so it’s was inconceivable to even consider not listening and responding as an option.

So, I am a nag. I also realize that I have a personality that is just naturally inclined to be naggy.

Surprise! Nagging actually doesn’t seem to be the most effective parenting method. #gofigure I mean, it can be useful, but really, it mostly serves to get me all riled up, and it gets Hope all snarky, and then I fantasize about putting her ish out on the balcony.

I want Hope to be successful, and I know that there are times when I really do have to help her because 1) she’s a kid and 2) she has some challenges that really require my help. All that said, I’m tired of being a harpy mom.

For the month of August I am committing to focusing on natural consequences.

  • Oh, you chose to spend your last $6 on an icee at the movie theater after I offered to take you to 7-11 for a $2 slurpee and now you’re mad? Too bad, so sad.
  • Oh, you don’t want to watch a couple videos on sentence diagramming, which you’re supposed to already know? Hmmm, OK.
  • Oh, you’re too busy to read that second book so you can write the report that’s due on the first day of school? Hmmm, well, maybe honors English isn’t for you.
  • Oh, you don’t want to tidy up that apocalypse called your room but you want to invite someone over to hang this weekend? I can’t go for that…no…nooo…no can do.
  • You haven’t meaningfully done chores in 4 weeks but you want to keep your cell phone and you want me to take you to the amusement park? #nope

And on and on, until the break of dawn.

One night this week, in an epic fit of passive, aggressive “helpful” parenting, I logged into her Google calendar and put in every chore, all her activities and appointments along with convenient reminders for every one of them, including the things that she is supposed to do daily. She will be buzzing nonstop between 6:30 and 8pm daily. Do I think I will make much difference? Maybe, maybe not. But I figure by Monday evening when a bunch of them are going off, she will become annoyed and either make different choices than she does now, she will confront me or she will simply be ok with hitting the ignore button.

Elihu tried to get me to use some app that would let me know whether she did something or not. I replied that I didn’t want such a notification. I’d rather *see* her actually doing stuff. I rationalize that the calendar set up alleviates my need to stay on her to do the things she needs to do. If they don’t get done, well, it’s not because she didn’t have reminders.

I’m hopeful, even if a bit naïve. We’ll see, I guess.

Trying to teach Hope some responsibility has been really hard…really hard. I love her so very much. Each day, I do see these challenges of proof that we are getting closer and closer to some sort of normal. Even though it feels like my pressure is through the roof, I know that these are common parenting issues, and that…that is good.

So, for now, I’m really committed to using natural consequences in helping Hope learn some responsibility. The nagging is just too exhausting, and it doesn’t seem to be effective anyway, so here goes!


About AdoptiveBlackMom

I'm a single Black professional woman living in the DC area. I adopted my now adult daughter in 2014, and this blog chronicles my journey. Feel free to contact me at, on Facebook at Adoptive Black Mom, and on Twitter @adoptiveblkmom. ©, 2013-2022. All rights reserved. (Don't copy my ish without credit!) View all posts by AdoptiveBlackMom

12 responses to “Natural Consequences

  • NickyB.

    I hope it works. You are absolutely right about the nagging. It just has never worked. Kudos to you for trying to find another way. That is great parenting!

  • My Perfect Breakdown

    I hope your new strategy works! And if it doesn’t, I’m sure someone else out there will have another suggestion for you to try. 🙂

  • AdoptiveNYMomma

    I was just advised by my kids Probation officer to do the same thing. WOW it is hard to keep my mouth shut but oh well there are consequences.

  • Jordan Walsh

    This post hit the nail on the head. We want our kids to be responsible and when we see they aren’t we resort to nagging, which only makes the problem worse. So frustrating.

  • wOOdsy1

    ABM… I’m so excited to read this. Welcome to the Mean Mama’s Club, welcome, welcome, welcome! I hope you and Hope enjoy it, me and mine have. It can be very fun and enjoyable. Life is just so much better when everyone has consideration and respect for those around them and just does what they are supposed to do with out a bunch of needless discussion.
    Thought I would share some helpful responses for the future 🙂

    “Oh, That didn’t get done? Bummer. ”
    (not You didn’t get that done, but that didn’t)

    “Ahh man, I hate it when that happens. ”
    (Then move on to an interesting to you topic, don’t give suggestions!! don’t ask questions!! You are not interested!! Wait for them to ask for help, Do Not offer help!! unless it’s obviously really needed – we aren’t that mean, right? alright, most days anyway)

    For me it can be really hard to ignore the whining and complaints and not take control, the innocents will set you up to do it often, they complain and act like they don’t want you to, but they do, don’t fall for it 🙂 they are tricky. If they are being overly nice and known to be slick, beware. Soon you may find yourself standing there holding the broom, alone, wondering how that happened. btdt.

    We do have a sign and rule at the kitchen sink. Washing dishes? Bitch all ya want, just keep washing. No one can say a word to you, or make excuses or talk back, they must agree with you and apologize for their lameness. Whine and complain all you want about all the nasty disrespectful people that filled the sink up with icky dirty dishes for someone else to clean up for them. I do.

    The hard one for me is not bailing them out.
    Oh you didn’t know that would cost extra on the phone bill?
    Now ya do.
    Oh it’s $75 extra, and your paycheck/allowance is only $80?
    That sucks. Oh man that really sucks sweetheart, (((sorry))) life is hard sometimes and rarely fair huh? I feel your pain, I remember when something similar happened to me…..blah blah blah……. Give plenty of sympathy – but NO BAIL OUT! It’s hard, it’s really hard.

    If it’s something like a speeding ticket they have to pay on time, and they need a LOAN, give them a loan… at the IRS rate (make it what ever you want 100%, 400%, don’t forget to add the “I spent more than I have” penalty) Mine would rather get a loan from the Mob than from the Mom. Make sure they pay Mom back before anything else, set up hefty payments, garnish, hire a collection middleman if need be. Yep, life sucks sometimes, suck it up kiddo.

    Now is the time to be hard about money IMO. Once they get to driving age if they don’t have a grasp on their money situations… life can get really hard, really expensive and just awful. Now is the time too that it’s good to show them that they don’t get to keep all of their money, spend it only on things they want, or spend it only on themselves. You “get” to spend your money on things you don’t really want to (new tires, air conditioner filters, car insurance, fun stuff), as well as spend it on others sometimes… it’s not always so easy and no one really likes it that often! Including the Mama.

    Showing them your expense report can be helpful, it’s helpful to know how much things cost and what could be on the list… and how much they oh so quickly add up to be. Cry a little, squeeze out a tear or two and big sighs of lost dreams of what you could have bought instead when you talk about it 🙂 It shows them where Mean Mama came from.

    The best thing to me is Mean Mama almost always wins. She may not win right away every time, but eventually she will. They may ignore or defy the mean mama lessons, but when they do they will know exactly where they went wrong. Just keep grinning til eventually rolls around 🙂 you know it will.
    I know it works, my grown ones tell me every time I get to see them how they hate/love and miss the mean mama, as mean as she was/is, and how she will always be with them.

    Rock On Mean Mama. 🙂

  • polwygle

    Ok, so just yesterday, I told my daughter I wanted her to be a productive member of society and that her shenanigans had to stop. Yes, I told her productive members of society go potty. She’s three, and I don’t understand why she has so many “accidents.” Well, my calm, matter of fact talk with her worked. She went right away and we had no further accidents the rest of the day. I’m not quite sure this is helpful to you, maybe it’ll just make you chuckle, and maybe you’ll find something new and unexpected to say to Hope.

  • Audrey

    I love, love, love this post. And I agree with the mean mama tactic (method). It does work. You can’t be their friend and be a parent sometimes. I think it is great you are giving up nagging. It does not work and for me, I just resist harder with each nag. Childish I know but what can I say? Keep it up and I’m also happy to see you write it feels like common parenting issues in a good way.

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