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“I’ll Do It in a Minute!” What Does That Really Mean? 3 Perspectives

What happens when a teen feels one way about a particular issue or problem and the parent has a very different take? At Your Teen, we understand that sometimes you need to look at a problem from multiple perspectives. It can also be helpful to hear from a neutral third party. That’s when we bring in a parenting expert to provide the practical advice you need to bridge the divide and help restore harmony.In this article, we explore the age-old parenting frustration: How to handle it when you ask your teen to do something, and they promptly respond by saying “I’ll do it in a minute.” Then just as promptly, they forget all about it?


I like to think of myself as a bit of a philosopher. I mean, I’m no Plato, but I aced Logic 101 in college and I own The Truman Show on DVD. I’ve even read Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul. What that book taught me is that when you have children, the concept of time—much like your abdomen—becomes elastic. The nine months it takes for the baby to arrive is an eternity, but after you blink and change 10,000 diapers, your newborn is off to college.

I get it. All things are relative. So when I ask my daughters to clap the dirt clods off their softball cleats before they toss them onto the living room floor and they reply, “I’ll do it in a minute,” I know that “minute” could elapse in a time frame that doesn’t remotely resemble the 60-second increment that’s universally accepted in civilized society. For example, if they’re in the midst of a Snapchat Face Swap, that minute will last until the next softball game (which will be played with dirt-caked shoes).

Yes, it’s exceedingly annoying to be continually shushed by my teenagers’ empty promises.

But my philosophic mind understands that while one particular minute may never arrive, plenty of other minutes will come and go. Eventually so will those dirty shoes and the kids who wear them. This clarity allows me to free myself of frustration. And that’s much easier to come to terms with than the idea that I have raised three lazy and obstinate teenagers who were babies just a minute ago.

Kathleen Osborne is a marketer and a mother to Patrick, Molly, and Annie Gleydura.


Parents are such nags sometimes. What they don’t understand is that we are busy too. Just like them, we can’t just drop everything to do what they want. For example, if I need a ride to my friend’s house while my mom is in a meeting, she isn’t going to stand up and excuse herself because I have somewhere to be. This is the same as when I’m busy and my parents ask me to straighten the shoes in the living room because my grandparents are coming “any second.” I am also busy. And yes, it still counts if I am binge-watching Scrubs on Netflix for the 12th time with my siblings.

Busy is busy. Besides, as far as lifetime memories are concerned, watching Scrubs with my siblings—and reciting every line—is far more important than letting my grandparents see that our shoes aren’t always kept in perfect lines.

When I say, “I’ll do it in a minute,” I plan to do whatever is asked of me eventually.

However, just because my parents want a task completed that moment doesn’t mean that it needs to be done right then.

My parents will carp on something until my siblings and I just have to throw in the towel. “I guess I’ll prove you right and I won’t bring my gym bag upstairs after all!”

Here’s my advice to my parents: Stop nagging us about silly tasks and allow us a “minute” to do them because there is an approximately 33.3 percent chance that one of us will do it. In a minute.

Molly Gleydura is a high school junior and an aspiring athlete.


The concept of “in a minute” can be a source of conflict for families. Parents make what they perceive to be a reasonable request—pick up your cleats—and expect it to happen within a reasonable amount of time. Teenagers, however, have their own ideas of what’s reasonable when it comes to getting things done.

Parents become frustrated with their teenager’s stalling tactics—which can feel patronizing at best and like lying at worst—and demand compliance. Teenagers dig in their heels.

Understanding everyone’s viewpoint can be invaluable. So, if “I’ll get to it in a minute” has become a frustration in your home, here’s an idea.

Challenge the person saying “in a minute” to do one of two things. (1) set an alarm on their phone for one—or five—minutes in which they’ll do the task or, (2) talk about what they really mean by “in a minute.”

If what they mean is, “I’m busy”—in a meeting, watching my show—discuss when the task will get done. A parent could say, “I’ll take you to your friend’s house in 30 minutes.” A teenager could say, “I’ll pick up my cleats after my show.” That gives everyone the chance for clear communication and expectations.

Most teenagers, when given the chance, can delineate their priorities and intentions. Though they may feel their parents’ requests are arbitrary, they still need to follow through or explain respectfully why they don’t want to help out. What happens next is up to your family.

Dr. Deborah Gilboa is a family physician and author of Get the Behavior You Want … Without Being the Parent You Hate.

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