Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.
DEAR AMY: Sign me up as one who disagrees with your advice to "Frustrated and Tidy," the mom who cleaned her teen's room. I am living with a mate who was never required to clean his room. Now I am living with his mess. He has turned our home into a giant closet and hasn't thrown anything out in 30 years. I have moved to another bedroom, and will soon move to another residence. He is a third-generation pack rat and I should have run the minute I saw his room. Unless Frustrated's children pair up with people exactly like them, they can expect bad relationships. Considering they may be in college dorms soon, she should stand her ground. Realistically, this is something parents should address very early, but she should clean their rooms -- once. It is her home, and her rules. Bag up all but the necessities and bin them before they can rescue anything. Never capitulate to your children.
Bin There, Dumped That
DEAR BIN THERE: Many parents weighed in with their techniques for how to deal with their kids' rooms. Your perspective about what life is really like with someone who doesn't ever clean is valid. Thank you.
DEAR AMY: I totally disagree with your reasoning of the couple with lazy/slobs, kids that can't/won't clean their rooms! I would think it would fall under the same category as table manners. What are they teaching them before they leave the nest? I put three companies of recruits through boot camp and could tell the ones where Mom and Dad didn't teach them any "Basic Decorum." Would you like to room with one of these people in a college dorm? How about marrying one so you can pick up after "it" for the rest of your life? Training should be at home. These parents are not making their future lives any easier.
DEAR DW: My suggestion was that this mother should NOT clean her kids' rooms but should show them how to do it -- and relax her own standards enough so they could see the real consequences of what it is like when no one picks up after you. Thank you very much for offering your perspective.
DEAR AMY: The question posed by "Frustrated and Tidy" is a tough one. I felt like I had tried everything. Then our daughter learned that piles of clothes make nice nests for mice and other rodents. That got her attention.
She's the Clean One Now
DEAR CLEAN ONE: I admire your fortitude.
DEAR AMY: As I raised my (now adult) children, I would get frustrated with their messy rooms. I found a fun solution to this. We would have a yard sale twice a year. The kids were responsible for cleaning out their rooms for old toys, clothes, etc. They would set them out for sale and all monies made were theirs to spend. It was a fun family day and a great solution to an age-old family problem! My grandchild is now enjoying the same opportunity!
Janna Antos, Soquel, CA.
DEAR JANNA: Great solution.
DEAR AMY: When my two children were teenagers, I saw that things were quickly getting out of hand. Stale milk, dirty plates, smelly underwear, etc., were everywhere. I gave them an ultimatum -- once a week, simply pick up your clothes both on the floors and in the closet. If you don't, you will only see them if you pay me. Boy were they surprised when they went looking for certain clothing/articles important for a date or a night out with friends. "Come to my trunk," I said. "If you want these, they will cost you." Each item cost 50 cents. I did a brisk business for a while until they decided they could use their money for other purposes. They started to use the hampers in their rooms and put their food items in the kitchen. They still laugh about it. They are now dealing with their own teenagers, and always threaten to use Nana's trunk method as a means to keeping their kids' rooms clean.
DEAR DIANE: "Come to my trunk!" I love it.