Dear Annie: This is in response to “Tired in Rural Oregon,” whose kids are slobs and whose husband doesn’t care. I told my kids if they didn’t pick up their messes, I would hire a “maid.” One day, they came home to a clean, organized house. I said the “maid” had come. When I handed out my children’s allowance for the week, I took back the money it cost to hire the “maid.” I then told them that the “maid” was going to the mall to buy herself something really nice. I came home with a new top and thanked my kids for making the “maid” so happy.
From then on, I just had to remind my kids that if they didn’t pick up after themselves, I would hire the “maid” again. — Honolulu Housewife
Dear Honolulu: We love it. Here’s more:
From Louisiana: My psychologist said, “You teach people how to treat you.” This starts when your children are born. A parent has to tolerate poor behavior from the beginning, or their children would not expect to get away with such deplorable actions.
Illinois: Nagging is not part of a parent’s job. Nagging is a contest of wills. At an early age, parents should instill in the child what is proper and correct. There are developmental tasks that a person learns throughout life, and if those tasks are not learned at the critical points, it becomes much more difficult. The parent is not a buddy, but a person who is due respect and obedience. “Tired” should count the days until the kids are 18, and if they don’t shape up, invite them to move out.
Georgia: We got our teens to help with chores by making sure their chores were done as a condition for getting to use the car on the weekend.
Missouri: When our children reached the age of 10, they were told to pick up their clothes, make their beds, put their dishes in the dishwasher, help set the table and do other tasks. There was no nagging. If my son didn’t put his dirty clothes in the hamper, I simply picked them up, folded them and put them back in his drawers. His breakfast was served on the same dishes he had not placed in the dishwasher the night before. If he didn’t put his towels in the laundry, they were used until they could walk on their own.
Wyoming: I agree that my kids’ bedrooms were their responsibility, but I would no longer allow them to trash the common areas. If they left dirty dishes in the living room, I assumed they still wanted them, so I would take the dishes to their rooms. If they left toys or clothes in the common areas, I assumed they didn’t care about them and threw them out. I had some major backlash, but it worked. It was a joy to see them scrambling around in the morning cleaning up their stuff before they left for the day.
Florida: You were right on when you said to close the kids’ bedroom doors and teach them how to do laundry. And enforce the rule that anything left in a common area when you go to bed will be confiscated. They can earn it back by doing chores.
New York: Your advice to close the door to a teenager’s messy room is totally wrong. I finally had to move out of my home because of my sloppy 22-year-old stepdaughter’s disrespect and her dad’s lack of responsibility. He would ask her to please wash her dishes with hot soapy water, but she would use the stale water left in the basin from the night before, and I would have to rewash them. The only way I knew things were clean was if I washed them.
Annie’s Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please email your questions to [email protected], or write to: Annie’s Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.