How to get your teen to clean up their room
by Anthony Wolfe, The Globe and Mail
Tuesday, Nov. 03, 2009
If you force your kid to clean up, your victory will be short-lived. Trust that they’ll tidy up with time
The courtroom of the Honourable Justice Maureen Rascomb in the case of Matthew Thibodeau v. his mother.
Matthew: “It’s really very simple: It’s my room. Yes, it’s a giant mess, but I’m the only one who lives there. No one else even needs to go into it. I keep the door closed so nobody has to see it except me. I live here. I am part of this family. This is the one and only part of this house that I have any say over. My mother rules the entire rest of this house. I like my room the way it is. I choose not to pick it up. To me, the room is comfortable. End of story. My case rests.”
His mother: “It is my house. I own it. When I die, Matthew gets half ownership of the house along with his sister. But I’m not dead yet. The house still belongs to me. Matthew’s room is in my house. I own his room. I will not tolerate that the room that he lives in in my house – my room – be an abomination. When he gets older and moves out, he will have the right to have his room any way he wants. But not now. Not here.”
It’s an eternal household debate. Yet the bottom line is this: Who is right is really not the main point.
My take: YOU own his room? It is YOUR house? The house belongs to YOU?
What about your son? Your daughter? Do they not also live there? It may be “your house” since it’s your name on the mortgage, but is it not also THEIR home?
When I hear statements like this, my reaction is that I fully understand why the parent is also complaining that s/he doesn’t feel respected by the teen – the teen almost certainly doesn’t feel respected by the parent either, so what else would you expect?
Bottom line: If you wouldn’t treat your spouse or a good friend that way, don’t treat your teen that way either. You are presumably trying to help your teen learn how to grow up to be a responsible and respectful adult. Start modeling what a responsible and respectful adult should look like.