Should I make a big deal out of my teenage boy's room being a mess?

User - posted on 02/07/2010 ( 133 moms have responded )

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My son is a great kid, top student, does volunteer work plays sports, never gets into trouble - fun to be with. Last night we had a bgi fight (we never do) because I wanted him to clean his room - I fluctuate between its his room, don't make a big deal of it, to its my house I like a tidy house so he should abide by my rules. Help???

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Janiene - posted on 08/18/2012

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His room is a reflection of chaos. This is normal. He is juggling all of those things that you listed, probably more that you are unaware of at this time. We never really know what our children deal with day to day. I would pick my battles, and possibly tell him that , cleaning his room shows responsibility and a level of respect that is important to you. Ask him if there is anything that is bothering him and if he would like to talk. Let him know that you understand how hard it is to juggle all of the things that he is dealing with and that it is normal and a part of growing up. Ask him if he thinks that he could straighten the room at least once a week and see if it happens. Be kind, you do not want to push him away because of additional home responsibilities. Shut the door; I shut it many times and I am glad now that I did now. There was always something else bigger going on inside of him than a messy room and that is what you want to know about.

Krista - posted on 02/07/2010

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Here's my thoughts.....as long as your son isn't leaving food bits and what not in his room, let him be. The only time I'd worry is if there's a risk for infestation of bugs or mice or what not.

Maybe say this to him: It's your room, your space. I won't yell at you to clean it, but the minute I see ANYTHING that could attract any sort of pests, you'll be cleaning it.

I'm sure he'll agree with that.

Desirae - posted on 02/07/2010

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I don't have a teenager yet either... my mother however found clever ways around this that I laugh about to this day... It was kind of a mix between Malcome in the Middle and Roseann...lol Ok... one example (mind you, I have a twin brother) ... She got sick of wading through dirty laundry to spray us with with a spray bottle in the morning to wake us up for school... so not only did she invest in a squirt gun with some distance but our dirty clothes conveniently started to disappear. I thought she was doing laundry until I noticed there were hardly any clothes left. When I asked her where my clothes were, she simply told me they were on the back porch. "What?" I wondered... "It's frickin' January..." I wandered to the porch to find all my dirty laundry in a nice clean garbage can filled with water and frozen solid. Guess what...lol... It worked... to this day... and I'm almost 30! I hope you find a way to win your war... Good luck! (I say be creative and get your point across.)

Krista - posted on 02/07/2010

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I wouldn't necessarily worry about tidiness, as long as we're not talking about filth. So if he's got dirty laundry, old milk glasses, food or anything stinky in his room, that's where you draw the line. But if it's just a cluttered mess? Not really worth the fight. And if he can't find his stuff, then that's HIS problem -- he'll have to deal with it.

Francine - posted on 02/07/2010

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I don't have a teenage son, however, I know my mother gave up the fight with my younger brothers, but if the laundry was not in the basket, it didn't get done. It doesn't take them long to either learn to do laundry themselves, or clean up their room occasionally.

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Erisreignssupreme - posted on 06/03/2014

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my kids are only six and nine...but i expect them to clean the living room do their dishes laundry clean up food stuffs etc...i help the six year old with tidying but i let him tidy it to the degree he wants and if hes happy with that then so am i. its his personal space to have the teddies on the floor and his boooks on his bed if thats how he likes it. my nine year old likes thing stidy adn doe shis own room but i do have to remind him. especially about laundry and socks. but i wont do their laundry or wash their dishes or pick up after them and they can have a cardboard box and go live in the yard if they dont like it here. id let him alone since hes doing so well in otehr areas of life what harm is being messy. some people like mess. so long as he keeps it in his space and doesnt disrespect yours by messing it up. whats the point fighting about it? kids arent always how we would like em to be...and we think being tidy is so damn important cos we want to keep up with the neighbours..its part of our value system.. we feel guilty and shamefull if we are messy. its not the same for kids. they dont have that social pressure. :)

Erisreignssupreme - posted on 06/03/2014

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well which is it. does he have a room for himself where he can be himself messy or not in his underpants..or is it all yours and he has to live in your space?

Keri - posted on 08/29/2012

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If you can't walk into the room, if there is only a path from the door to the bed or closet then it needs to be cleaned. If there are a few clothes on the floor, video games, homework, but not over messy I wouldn't worry about it too much. Maybe make a new rule that it has to be picked up once a week, maybe every Friday. My oldest is 12, his room usually has some stuff on the floor, but I don't make a big deal about it. Most of the mess if from his brother and sister bringing stuff into his room. My 6 year old often has some Hotwheels, Legos, and clothes on the floor. I make him pick up once a week. It doesn't become a huge mess. I help my 3 year old put her toys away. She is still learning and the mess in her room can be overwhelming at times. Most of the time you can see most of the floor in all three rooms.

Lauram - posted on 08/27/2012

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Your son sound like me as a teen. I never wanted to clean and now as an adult I am paying for it. I kid you not, I just downloaded a chore chart for myself and a reward system (I feel like I'm 4!) I have heard that you have to do something 40 times for it to become a habit so, 40 days in a row I am going to make an effort to do chores and cook. For everyday I do, I will "award" myself $1. I would stay stern with him because my relationship has suffered because of it. The life skills he learns now will stick with him. Good Luck!

Julie - posted on 08/23/2012

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sometimes i even encourage him to push stuff under the bed for now....but i also have a strict no food in your room policy so i don't mind hiding stuff in the closet or under the bed now and then..i do it too!...but once a month or so..the "hidden junk" needs to be cleaned...firm...or no going places.

Tao - posted on 08/20/2012

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I choose my battles, which are few and far between. But if I ask for the dirty clothes and dishes, he usually complies. We have a housekeeper that does the real cleaning, but he must cooperate with getting his dirty clothes and dishes out before she comes. He says he has his "own order" and that I shouldn't disturb it because he can't find things after I've cleaned up. But here's the clincher: He cleaned his own room, even sweeping and making his bed, when he invited a girl from school over. They have to find their own motivations; nagging doesn't seem to help.

Peggyann - posted on 08/13/2012

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okay, well I'm 14, a teenager and to be fiar, my room is covered in paper, pencils, empty paint trays, pencil sharpenings and other stuff that have anything to do with art or drawing. My room couldn't get much worse, and my mother is always stressing over my room, shouting at me evry day because it's a mess and she can't find anything in there. Just tell him, look, I'm not doing your laundry anymore, you can do it since I can't find anything in your room, thats what my mother did with me, I didn't care to be honest, I do my own laundry anyway, but if your child doesn't clean his room tog et his laundry, he will still have a mess of a room and no clean clothes!

Julie - posted on 08/11/2012

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Choose your Battles. If he is an ideal child in every other way, maybe you could let it go. But if his room is a reflection of his life, he needs to start with his room!

Chaya - posted on 08/10/2012

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Tell him to keep the door shut and no food is allowed, I'm in the same boat, except I can't get my daughter to learn to play an instrument or ride a bicycle, she's a perfect kid.

Yolanda - posted on 03/20/2010

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ARE U KIDDING ME!!!! Honey.......... I Raised 5 kids, 3 of them were teenagers at the same time. I could only wish that there room was the only thing I had to worry about. there's teenage pregnancy, drugs, hanging out w/the wrong crowd......... the list goes on and on. REALLY...... your upset because his rooms a mess. COME ON!. He sounds like a kid with a good head on his shoulders. you don't hear that often about teenagers anymore. Tell him u love him, tell him ur proud of him. While ur telling start picking up his room. I bet u he'll join u! God Bless :)

Joanna - posted on 03/02/2010

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What my parents did is they didn't make me clean my room. They said I never had to clean it. So I didn't.... and after a month or so there was a tiny walkway from the door to my bed and desk/dresser, and everything else was piles of clothes and mountains of stuff. So finally I HAD to clean it, and I had to do it myself!

Sabra - posted on 02/20/2010

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I have a sixteen year old son. Great kid as well. Been through this. There is something deeper than just not wanting to clean the room. It came out through displaced anger. I have to sit down with my son and really get to what it is that is bothering him. Cleaning his room is not the end of the world nor a reason to fight with me. It takes some kind words of concern but we get to the root of the problem and talk it out. And the room gets cleaned as well. Good luck to you.

Julie - posted on 02/17/2010

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I have been in this situation with my son, he is a great student and works hard, he is a good boy and we never have any problems with him but his room is a mess. I have had arguments with him over it and for all the stress it causes you and him I really think that as long as all the dirty clothes are in the wash and there is no rubbish left laying around he can have it messy. I like a tidy house and it stresses me out but sometijmes you need to pick your battles and a messy room is just not worth the disharmony it causes. As long as the room is clean and he isn't messing up every room in the house I wouldn't worry too much.

Jane - posted on 02/17/2010

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Listen to his feelings about his space with empathy -- and share your needs for a tidy house and ask for his understanding. Once understanding is mutual, negotiate a solution that meets both your needs. Your connection with your son is more important than the tidiness of his room. See Marshall Rosenberg's Non-Violent Communication, go to www-nonviolentcommunication.com and click on Parenting.

Dennise - posted on 02/16/2010

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He needs to listen and follow your rules. my son is 11 and i am having issues with him as well. he has currently lost all privelages until the room is decent.

Kelli - posted on 02/16/2010

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My 13 yr old Boy (sounds kike my sun)Gets all As in school something he is very proud of...For the last montrh on Thursdays i grade his room only an A or B will earm him the rights to hangout with friens talk on phone ect.....Its a cually is workin so far hes been getting# As and 1B that he wasnt happy with! To keepphone privalalages hes been tidy ing up on a daily basis But always He strives for that A from mom. well i dont know if this will help but it sure is working well for me! best wishes Kelli

Katrina - posted on 02/16/2010

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I say sit him down and make a deal with him; treats (allowance, extra cash and books) for clean room goes a long way with my 12 year old.

Didi - posted on 02/16/2010

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One more comment, I was a messy kid, my room was not picked up and my bed was never made, throughout my teenage years. I am a good housekeeper now, and a pretty tidy person. So being a slob when you are a kid doesn't mean you will stay that way when you have your own place.

Didi - posted on 02/16/2010

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My teenage daughter is the same way. Awesome kid, great student, brilliant violinist, polite, mannerly, my pride and joy. But she's a slob. We've stopped nagging about the room and just require her to clear out and do her laundry once a week, and clean it up if she wants to have a friend over or if we are having guests. Other than that, the day to day sloppiness is fixed by simply closing the door. Oh and we do not allow her to have food or any beverage besides water in there. We don't want mice or bugs after all right?

Elana - posted on 02/16/2010

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Honey, close the door and let him be . As long as the room doesn't smell, just ignore the room. My only stipulation would be that if he wants friends over, he will have to clean it.

Sharon - posted on 02/15/2010

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I have a 15 year old son, and a 12 yr old son, that share a room, believe me I know what you are going through, so...heres some child psycology that works...."if you do not clean your room by tonight, I will, while you're at school....and believe me you wont like the way I clean. I had to do this only once a couple years back, and when they started noticing things gone, they never let me clean again :) I stll have to remind them to clean their room, I dont think that will ever change, but they definately get on it, when I tell them, I want it done by..... Hope this helps. Sharon

Rhonda - posted on 02/15/2010

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How old is he? I had/have the same problem with my son. If he is a teenager and values his privacy you could try what I did. I cleaned it myself, cleaned out the drawers and every nook and cranny. My son did not like that because I was amongst his personal stuff (i.e. notes from girls, etc.) I only had to do it twice and now he cleans it. His stepfather also used to tell him also that his car does not move again until his room is clean. That worked sometimes too. Good luck. I know when they are such great kids in every other way it is not always easy to know what to make a deal about. His future wife will love you for it as well. :-)

Casey - posted on 02/15/2010

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I believe it is really a matter of whether or not it is something you want done. If you do and you ask him to do it he should be obedient or suffer consequences. I know some people will not agree but in my opinion it is a matter of obedience. All kids will be disobedient at some point so it's just something all parents will struggle with. That's how I was raised and that's how I am raising my son. Even if your request for him to clean his room was unreasonable, he doesn't get to disobey. There should still be obedience and then a discussion later if he feels it is unfair. I don't believe children have the right to argue and fight with their parents. It will happen but in my house there are consequences. Please don't feel like I am saying you have to be like this. I just want you to know that as a parent it is ok for you to expect obedience and respect from your children. I am sure you have that from him in general but if it is an important issue to you then you have the right to expect him to keep his room clean. I know this opinion will not be popular but I just wanted to add my two cents.

Ty - posted on 02/15/2010

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Some of the greatest minds in history have been extremely untidy. Get a huge basket and stick it in his room to throw his stuff into. Make it part of his daily expectations to keep a path open (for emergency exit). A smart kid wont argue with safety!

Pattie - posted on 02/15/2010

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I agree with Lydia, at the teenage years you have to pick your battles, you have to really know how important it is to you. I know where you are coming from, I don't have a teen boy but I do have twin teen girls!! At this age they want some independence and they like to know that they can do some things at their will. At our house, their rooms have to be at least have everything off the floor and if they want to go somewhere or have friends over then it had to be clean. This seems to work well. They know what is excepted from them and for them to do what they want, It isn't so much of a problem of being dirty it is just messy.

Rita - posted on 02/15/2010

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My children are in their 20s & 30s DONT MAKE A BIG DEAL OUT OF IT too soon they will have left home and are making a mess in their own home ( or probably not ) but you will have a great mate, your son!

Crystal - posted on 02/15/2010

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When I was a teen my room was always a mess, but my mother would make me clean it/pick it up at least once a week. I do the same for my pre-teen. Yes it is their room, but it is your home. I do not expect her room to pass a white golve test(LOL) but I do enjoy walking into her room and being able to see the floor. We as parents have a responsiblty to provide our children with a roof over their heads, food to eat, and clothes to wear. All we ask in return is for them to respect us and I think cleaning their room falls in this catagory. I do reward my pre-teen for keeping her room clean and doing her chores, so maybe try a reward system with him... Hope this is helpful.

Alice - posted on 02/15/2010

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Good Luck with that I've tried everything from hiding money in the mess for him to find to giving up. I've embarressed him in front of girlfriends, I've put all the stuff in one big garbage bag, I've punished him(no going out till its clean) I've closed the door. He and his brother are both 19 now go to college have jobs, etc. Guess what room is still a mess. Girlfriends even volunteer to clean it. He only does laundry when he runs out... So what's the answer 1. It is my house and I want it clean all the way through 2. It is his room and he's entitled to keep it the way he wants but dust mites and bed bugs are real.. So the fight continues ..........One thing buy a good air purifier it helps....

Patricia - posted on 02/15/2010

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try taking the approach that its not your house you are concerned about, but him learning at a critical stage to be self sufficient. who will clean when he gets his own place? he is not going to want to have friends/ girls over if he cant keep his things tidy. maybe that point will help.

Catherine - posted on 02/14/2010

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I do not have teenagers but I did teach them. I had some that were great, intelligent students but treated their mother with disrepect. I talked to them before the year was out about the importance of submitting to authority. Teenagers love to be inspired but not to be told what to do. I inspired them with the importance of rising to the occasion and doing the right thing whether or not they believed their parent deserved it. I reminded them that many times in their future they will be called to follow authority, police, government,boss, etc. They will not always like or admire their authority but there are heavy consequences for disobedience. They have an opportunity to learn right now how to be obedient for someone who loves them. They may never have this opportunity again and should use it to be the best person possible. Obedience may sound like slavery but true slavery is in the immoral life where one is a slave to their own passions. Rising above your desires and doing what is right when it is difficult is in fact throwing off the oppression of your self and showing strength. I hope this helps.

Karen - posted on 02/14/2010

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Honestly, if you have a teenage son that is doing so well I dont think I would stress too much. Just dont do it for him. I have two teenage sons and I have just about given up on one. I wish I only had to worry about him cleaning his room. I am sure eventually he will work it out. We have these fights as well and in the end i think to myself is it all worth it. It is good to know that other people have the same problems.

Connie - posted on 02/14/2010

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I have a teenage daughter who had such a messy room i couldn't stand it.It use to be such a fight but i finally negotiated with her about it. I told her i didn't expect it to be spotless just things picked off the floor mostly. I also wouldn't allow her to have friends over if her room was too bad. She put up a struggle for a little while but got tired of no one over so she started to clean up. Most teenagers are messy tho and you do have to pick your battles sometimes. So best of luck to you on finding what works for you. :)

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I feel as though if his room is just disheveled that's one thing but if it stinks and looks like a pigsty due to laziness then he needs to get with the program. It is his room but is IS your house.

Janet - posted on 02/14/2010

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My boys are young adults now!! I have found that whatever I persist at in terms of behavioral expectations, they line up with. If I talk with them frequently about something and their feedback indicates that they think it's a violation of their individualism or takes their attention away from another area of discipline in their lives, I back off. If it's something that's important to me, I offer to assist or make a deal; a trade-off. Or tell them how important it is to me and ask their suggestions. Teenagers need to begin to develop thier own autonomy and this allows them to make some decisions and yet learn communication and give and take.

Johann - posted on 02/14/2010

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well teens have alot of stress - doesnt seem like it , but the do , from identity , acceptance,responsibility,choices, friends , temptations,self image, self esteem, sometimes they get caught up in the stress and want to blow their top my daughter does it every now and again and she is a great kid and a great student,my daughters room is a disaster ever few days but at least once a week i say clean your room - i mean it she does, then the next day it is a mess again, well maybe send him an email asking if anything is bugging him that you would he would like to get of his shoulders sometimes the face to face disscussions are stressing to them and they might reveal more to you through an email - this doesnt mean your speaking should only be talked like this but try it , i do it sometimes and my daughter will start with an email then say come into my room lets talk. maybe say every 3 days bring your laundry to the laundry room and everyday if there is dishes bring them to the kitchen and every few days get rid of the trash, it is ok them having a messy room a few times a week they live in there just keep the door closed if they stick to your rules then you wont have to go in the room so much.god bless - to you both

Lorna - posted on 02/14/2010

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Your son sounds like he's got a lot on his plate, so something has to give, and his room is it. And yes, you want him to clean it up, but at the same time, it is his room, his domain. Try to stay out of it, but let him know that you are available to 'help', not do it all yourself, and perhaps have him develop habits so the mess is not too much. As soon as he gets home to either hang his clothes up or put them in the hamper to be washed. To put his keys, wallet, cellphone,etc on the same place so he won't go nuts looking for it later. In the end he will see it's for his benefit to stay organized, and hopefully, neat. By the way, there are some people who just never outgrow it. Especially if they are hoarders. I'd rather have a messy room and a good kid, then someone who gets into trouble and cleans his room.

Christine - posted on 02/14/2010

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Maybe a compromise will help - providing he makes sure all hygine issues are kept under control, i.e. his dirty laundry is in the washing hamper and there are no dirty dishes kept in there - you could relax somewhat in your tidiness standards. And perhaps he has to clear his room once a week so it can be vacuumed, rather than keeping it completely tidy 100% of the time?

I don't have teenage kids yet - so this may not be at all helpful. But your son sounds like he can be reasoned with so maybe meeting him half way can enable a truce.

Wendy - posted on 02/14/2010

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Hmmmm, every mother's bane Cindy!

I find boys are better at sticking to rules instead of repeated asking (what they call 'nagging'!) - so instead of telling him to tidy his room when it's messy, just tell him that say, Saturdays and Wednesdays are when he should tidy his room. That way you hopefully won't have to use the words 'tidy your room' and instead, just hint by saying ... do you know what day it is today? Or "did you forget what's supposed to happen today", sounds daft but it works for me and though I have to remind him I also (shamefully) use the reward of Xbox time afterwards as a carrot. So Sat and Wed he has to tidy his room and he gets 1.5 hours Xbox time. It's a fair deal I think! He also has to iron his school shirts on a Sunday and clean out his pet rats on a Sat. His and his sisters chores are on a timetable on my fridge and if they don't stick to it then priveliges start dissapearing, like, mum's taxi service or pocket money. I'm not saying it works every time but it takes the hassle out of constantly telling them anyway.

It's not a major thing and he sounds like a really lovely boy. Every teenager (and girls can be MUCH worse) hates tidying their room, I know I did! Try saying it's "our" house too - because they are more likely to want to tidy 'their' house then 'your' house. It's just vocabulary but it's amazing how resentful a teen can feel when you start saying "this is my house.. etc. etc".

I'm no expert and teen's can be soooo frustrating! But it's no big deal if he has a messy room but after a while it can become very annoying. My Mum used to lock us in our bedroom (me and my two sisters) until it was tidy! Thankfully I haven't had to resort to that... yet!

Good luck!

Wendy

Beth - posted on 02/14/2010

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what is your problem...get a life. You have a great kid and you are worried about his room being clean????? the room will be clean when he is no longer there. Lighten up, have some fun with your great kid, and forget about the room!!!!!!!!!!!! Make sure he has clean clothes to wear, even if they are not put away...oh, if only all moms had the worries you have!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! A clean house is the sign of a mispent life...and if that is what is important to you....how shallow...get a life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Katrina - posted on 02/14/2010

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great Question. Personally we have a daughter that is 17 and we have had this battle. We have decided that this is not a battle we want. While it's our house, her room is her space and we have mandated that as well as her door to her room MUST remain closed.

Kim - posted on 02/14/2010

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Once a week we make all the kids deep clean their rooms. If it is messy throughout the week, it is alot longer Saturday for them. If they keep it picked up throughout the week, then it is not a huge deal. Been doing this for years, so they know what to expect.

Debbie - posted on 02/14/2010

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Wow, that brings back memories. Our 3 sons were not the tidest, but as adults are. I decided I could drive myself nuts, which I did, or close the room. I finally chose close the door. Your son has alot on the ball, and is making it in the areas that count. Just make him clean when you expect company. Good practice, he sounds like a good son.

Helen - posted on 02/14/2010

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as long as his floor is clear and he can use his room then i wouldn't worry. maybe it is something simple like he doesn't have enough storage. Maybe work with him to tidy it - always a good opportunity for a chat.

Raquel - posted on 02/14/2010

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Sometimes we focus so much on the small stuff we forget the real issue, is he trying to get your attention or just assert his independence either way let him have some space he will figure it out sooner or later because the more you tell him to clean his room the more he'll just tune you out so instead of getting angry just kill him with kindness pick a weekend your not to busy and suggest that both of you together clean his room

Peg - posted on 02/14/2010

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I fought with my oldest daughter a lot about this. To this day, she is a terrible housekeeper. She is a good mom, but her priorities don't include spending a lot of time on cleaning.
There is nothing wrong with explaining that you would like him to keep his room picked up. He should be able to do that. That was all I asked of my son (he is a lot younger than my daughter was and I had given up after her.. ha ha).. and he is a rather good housekeeper now.. not great about dusting, but the rest is good!! Some people are better about this than others. I would encourage him to do it, but no, don't make a huge deal out of it.

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