The disaster zone my teen calls home
Q. My daughter is a slob. Her room is beyond messy; I wouldn’t be surprised to find penicillin growing in there somewhere. I have nagged, given time outs, grounded her – you name it; it hasn’t worked. How can I get her to clean up the disaster zone that is her bedroom?
A. When Sir Alexander Fleming was on vacation in 1928, he had no idea he would return to his lab to find mold growing on a plate that had accidentally been contaminated. It’s reported that he said, “One sometimes finds what one is not looking for …” regarding his discovery of penicillin. During the same era, researchers studying parent-child relationships noted the conflicts that arose over keeping rooms clean, styles of dress and other personal preference issues. The same tensions have occurred across the generations – and gave rise to the proverb, “Cleanliness is next to godliness.”
Although a clean room may not necessarily reflect a depth of spirituality, Scripture is filled with references to cleaning – check out Acts 9:32-10:23 for some examples!
Generate simple room makeover ideas! Why not focus on ways to help her plan some benefits of the cleanup by focusing on some makeovers. Cling-on decals or colorful posters can give a whole new look. Craft stores sell wooden curio shelves that she can paint bright colors. Find a college-style hamper with two sections: dirty clothes and clothes clean enough to wear again that used to be stored on the floor.
Decide where to draw the line. There is a distinction between clutter and filth. Old food containers, dishes and soda pop cans can attract insects or become moldy. The “disaster zone” label will have to be negotiated. For a room to be considered clean, you may think of a neatly made bed, a desk with books and binders stacked at the edge and a floor ready to be vacuumed. Adolescents have quite a different image in mind! Once you decide what “clean” will be, help her figure out how to maintain it and what consequences will occur when it isn’t clean.
Enjoying the benefits. Schedule a regular time over the weekend for household chores. This isn’t punishment; it’s just part of life! It’s her responsibility, but help out during the scheduled time if she needs assistance staying on track. Having friends over to spend time in the clean room afterwards is a great way to follow up the chore time. Birthday or Christmas presents can include cute curtains, pillows or bedspreads that build on the theme of the room!