I think it'a all in the phrasing. A mother would order her son, "Son, dishes now." or "Son go and do the dishes now."
A wife reminding/telling her husband, "Husband, can you unload the fishes?" or "Husband, i am going to make lunch now, could you do the dishes or would you rather make lunch and I do the dishes?"
There is a huge difference. I too hate the telling disguised as a question. I much prefer to be direct and kind than vague.
With my sons I say "The dishes need to be done, boys. Would you rather do it before or after your homework's done?" So they have a choice as to when, but they will be doing it. I know better than to ask them if they want to do the dishes. Heck, I hate doing the dishes. If I could hire Rosie from The Jetsons to do it I would, but alas that's not a choice. Nor can I wiggle my nose or blink and nod or wave a wand to get it done. If someone asked me if I wanted to do the dishes I'd laugh and say "No, not really." Or "Are you asking me or telling me?"
I'll even say to DH "Would you please take care of dinner? I'm real tired/busy with the kids."
I agree. My parents never barked orders at us (such as "Son go do the dishes!") although I guess they might phrase it that way if we had been rude and said we weren't going to do it (which just didn't happen!). The expectation was set upfront, and then reinforced either through options or polite requests. They also would never have said "do you want to" because we were a particularly pedantic bunch of kids - it is 100% certain they would have got a response along the lines of "Well no I don't want
to do it!"
Between us kids we did all of the dishes, most of the laundry, dusting/vacuuming, and also took turns cooking dinner. It was definitely an expectation, but I don't think I was ever ordered to do any of it.
Funnily enough I was thinking of this very topic yesterday (before this thread), because I said to DH "Honey, when you did the dishes you didn't wipe down the benches. Could you please do those before we go to bed?
It might sound simple, but this is an extraordinary situation for us. We just moved into a new house and I've suddenly turned into super-nester and am determined to be "all over" the housework. So something I'd never
have noticed before was suddenly a new expectation that I was setting. And then immediately afterwards I wondered if I'd turned into a nag or if that was a normal spousal request. DH was surprised, but clarified what I wanted and went and did it. I'm going to monitor myself closely over the next week or so and see if we need to sit down and set some new expectations around anything in particular, because it seems all of a sudden I have a different set of needs in terms of how I want things done!