Most parents of teenagers experience a gradual loss of control over the actions of their budding adolescents. This can be disconcerting, but it’s a necessary move toward the goal of individuation. One common arena of struggle is the teenager’s bedroom.
I often hear parents complaining about the state of the teen cave. Now one thing is certain — all children are wired differently in terms of neatness and cleanliness. I have had some of each. And there does not seem to be any way to make one kind into the other kind.
I do believe there should be some ground rules: no wet towels on the floor and no food left anywhere to spoil and attract rodents. Beyond that it becomes an invasion of privacy. No matter what your belief or intention regarding the teenager’s room, if you nag them to clean it, they feel you are crossing their personal boundary.
Part of the reach for adulthood involves carving out personal style, likes and dislikes and opinions. This is expressed in the emotional and intellectual sphere and reinforced in the physical world.
There is but one solution to the messy room issue…
If you feel a deep need to continue the battle, keep saying things like, “it’s my house, and you live by my rules,” and other things that really go nowhere. Or, save your precious moments when your teen is actually willing to speak or listen to you, and talk about something real.
I do believe that ALL children need to learn every basic household task before they turn 18. They should know how to keep a home, how to clean and cook and do laundry and change sheets and dust. But making their personal space into your business is a losing proposition. Remember: support your teen in their developmental process. Help them grow up, and keep them safe and feeling loved and understood as much as possible.
And then let it go.
They do eventually learn to put their socks in the hamper.