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Author Topic: Possessions, Parents, and Getting Kids to Clean Up  (Read 9676 times)
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« Topic Start: September 02, 2010, 09:14:31 am »

This is spun off from the "Things you'd never hear a non-pagan kid say" thread; a side conversation developed and I have some more questions, so I thought I'd make a new thread instead of continuing to derail the existing one.

I feel a little badly for bringing it up in the first place- no one ever likes to be the ones to remind people of negative experiences- but at the same time I'm rather glad, because many of you have pointed out a perspective I wouldn't have thought of, since I didn't have such a bad experience with it. (Likely because my mother is a hider, and more about perceived order than actual order.)

So my questions: do you think that there is a way that your parent could have approached the "clean it up or it gets pitched" method in a way that wouldn't have affected you so negatively? I'm thinking in particular about those parents whose standards of clean were largely unknown, or some such- do you think it would have helped if they explained what they expected, or do you think it would have been just as bad regardless? Do you think if the action was taken less frequently- only in extreme situations, when nothing else has worked for a noticeable period of time, say- that it would have been more useful? If not, what do you think would have been more effective? If you have children, or plan to have children, what do you think you will do instead?

Also, I understand that I may be picking at old wounds, so I understand if no one wants to dwell on the subject for too long! I'm just very curious.
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« Reply #1: September 02, 2010, 09:22:39 am »

...So my questions: do you think that there is a way that your parent could have approached the "clean it up or it gets pitched" method in a way that wouldn't have affected you so negatively? I'm thinking in particular about those parents whose standards of clean were largely unknown, or some such- do you think it would have helped if they explained what they expected, or do you think it would have been just as bad regardless? Do you think if the action was taken less frequently- only in extreme situations, when nothing else has worked for a noticeable period of time, say- that it would have been more useful? If not, what do you think would have been more effective? If you have children, or plan to have children, what do you think you will do instead?

Also, I understand that I may be picking at old wounds, so I understand if no one wants to dwell on the subject for too long! I'm just very curious.

Well, my mother was of the "un-stuff everything and dump it all on the floor to be put away correctly" school than the "anything that isn't cleaned up is tossed" school.  She would occasionally suggest we get rid of something if she perceived it hadn't been used/worn in awhile, and if she was really mad she might remove a prized possession temporarily, but she never threw our things out.

With my own son, I only used the dump on the floor method twice...and I've never had to do it again.  I do, as I've mentioned before, sometimes remove his guitars or his electronics temporarily if he's not focusing on school work the way I want him to, but he always gets them back after a defined time period.
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« Reply #2: September 02, 2010, 09:23:15 am »


Just in general, I think children do a lot better with CLEAR boundaries, goals, desires, etc.

Swuggy goes nuts when things aren't explained to him.  When he knows what the rules are, even if he doesn't like them, he's fine.

But when the rules are inconsistent, or just don't make any sense .....
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« Reply #3: September 02, 2010, 10:13:23 am »



So my questions: do you think that there is a way that your parent could have approached the "clean it up or it gets pitched" method in a way that wouldn't have affected you so negatively? I'm thinking in particular about those parents whose standards of clean were largely unknown, or some such- do you think it would have helped if they explained what they expected, or do you think it would have been just as bad regardless? Do you think if the action was taken less frequently- only in extreme situations, when nothing else has worked for a noticeable period of time, say- that it would have been more useful? If not, what do you think would have been more effective? If you have children, or plan to have children, what do you think you will do instead?


Depends of course on age.

Start young and consistently.

Toys have to be put in the toy box before the friend goes home, every time. Stuff that's in use, such as an incomplete Lego project, have to put away in a regular place before the friend goes home.

Parents have to not buy more stuff than can be put away in the boxes provided.

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« Reply #4: September 02, 2010, 11:03:23 am »

This is spun off from the "Things you'd never hear a non-pagan kid say" thread; a side conversation developed and I have some more questions, so I thought I'd make a new thread instead of continuing to derail the existing one.


I was still in the other thread, cause I hit new replies and didn't see this one till just now so pardon the cross post...

What we do that keeps the mess problem to a minimum - and I didn't think of it till just this year, but it's perfect since the boys are so close in age.  We keep all toys in the 'playroom' (secondary family space that we don't use much so it's been dedicated kid space) and have a system of bins.

Only personal 'treasure' possessions go in the bedrooms, if it's in the bedroom it means it's a sacred something.  I will straighten but not remove unless something disastrous has been done - like dumping the entire crayon bin into a dresser drawer or trying to dictate an entire bin of playroom toys personal treasure.

This way they can straighten and clean quickly because there's never so much *junk* running around the room that they start dictating it junk and making piles of it.  If it's in common family space, then it falls under my day to day cleaning.

Throw aways we have some fairly strict rules on.  If it's broken, it's trash.  My boys break things about the time they loose interest in them so it works out.

We also just don't buy as much *stuff* as some of the boys peers parents do. 



I'm so shaped by my parents methods that at this point I can't think of any method that would have been effective with me.  I had an organization method, namely the I have a good memory I know where my stuff is because I put it there method, and only when I became responsible for knowing where 5 peoples stuff was and making sure it could be found on request did I fall back on the no room for things just laying around standards for clean.  Knowing which pile something was dropped in only works when you just have *your* stuff to manage and the extra time to go through a couple piles if your memory stalls.  Having people who have a full scale crisis if the paper/ book/ game/ socks of the moment have gone MIA would put my stress levels through the roof if I couldn't make them go away quickly.
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« Reply #5: September 02, 2010, 11:14:07 am »

I'm just very curious.

My parents tried making it a contest once, with prizes for the neatest room.  The only one who cared was my little sister, who is the only competitive one among us.  The problem there, though, was that she shared a room with me. Cheesy

Neatness wasn't really a high priority for them at home, though.  (at work was another matter entirely).  As long as the food was taken care of and the dishes were done, and they didn't have to buy anything just because we couldn't find the one we already had, they were fine.  They never cleaned our rooms for us once we were around school age, and the privacy rules I grew up with meant that if they did they couldn't complain about what they might find.  (anything not actively dangerous was our own business - for contraband there were 'fair catches' and 'unfair catches' - we'd still lose the item in question but if it was an unfair catch we didn't get any other punishment).

My older sister and brother are much more concerned with tidyness.  my sister instituted a system of bribes with her one child, and my brother used unstinting praise with his four.  Those kids will still work for attaboys and they are mostly into their twenties at this point. Cheesy

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« Reply #6: September 02, 2010, 11:19:47 am »



I just realized again that I am one of the least traumatized-by-childhood people I know, which I think means that I was one of the lucky ones whose patterns just happened to match perfectly with the people who raised me.  I know my older sister is a bit bothered by some of it - she hates to move, and she has lived in the same house for 17 years without rearranging the furniture.  She also appears to know how to dust. Cheesy

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« Reply #7: September 02, 2010, 11:34:04 am »


As long as it's not food or dirt, is staying confined to the kid's own room (that is, isn't spilling into shared family spaces), and isn't interfering with the kid's ability to find their stuff and get their schoolwork done, I think that there's not much you can or should do about it.

The best cleanliness rules, I think, are ones that clearly designate parameters, and that have an*obvious* benefit not just to the kid, but to everyone.  No food mess in the room means no bugs or mice -- not just for the kid, but for the rest of the house, too.  Same with dirt, which can get tracked everywhere.  But trying to enforce something like making the bed every day just comes across as petty power-mongering.

Someone in the other thread said that if it was really important, it wouldn't be on the floor, which is complete nonsense for many people.  When I'm writing, I designate working piles of books and papers, and the floor is the best place for me to keep them.  There is a way to be messy/cluttered and still organized.  Can the kid get in and out of the room, and does s/he know where everything is?  Then leave it be.  

If they're constantly coming to you to find things for them (and I don't mean once every now and then, but, like, all the time), then you can start enforcing stricter measures:  say, getting them a plastic bin and designating it "schoolwork" or something, and saying that if they don't put it in there, it's gone, because you're not going to help them find things anymore.  Also, if you do the laundry, they need to have it out and organized on the day of, or it won't get done.  After some of that, either they'll have it ready for you or start doing it themselves.      

After a certain point -- like, when the kid starts really insisting on their privacy, around age 11 or so -- I don't think there's any reason you should be going into their room uninvited unless there's some kind of *genuine* need, as in harm to themselves or others and/or illegal activity.  A messy room is not worth breaking your kid's trust in you, and teaches them that your clean house is more important than their privacy.  
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« Reply #8: September 02, 2010, 12:25:43 pm »

I feel a little badly for bringing it up in the first place-

Me too.  I hadn't thought about the ways in which the approach I was initially reacting to could go wrong, and didn't mean to touch off what got touched off.

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no one ever likes to be the ones to remind people of negative experiences- but at the same time I'm rather glad, because many of you have pointed out a perspective I wouldn't have thought of, since I didn't have such a bad experience with it. (Likely because my mother is a hider, and more about perceived order than actual order.)

Ditto this too.  I don't think I had a really traumatic experience with parents and cleaning growing up, for which I am grateful, and I think my approach to cleaning as an adult pretty much aligns with my parents'.  Thus, I wouldn't have thought of some of this.
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« Reply #9: September 02, 2010, 12:41:05 pm »

Ditto this too.  I don't think I had a really traumatic experience with parents and cleaning growing up, for which I am grateful, and I think my approach to cleaning as an adult pretty much aligns with my parents'.  Thus, I wouldn't have thought of some of this.

My mother threatened on occasion, but it wasn't until I was a teenager that she would actively raid my room. Those high school raids were ugly, but as a kid I wasn't traumatized by mom's cleaning approaches. It was more, "You have too much stuff, so you need to go through and decide what we can get rid of." It taught me to be really good at purging my possessions when I need to be.  I'm still a messy person, but then, Mom is too.
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« Reply #10: September 02, 2010, 02:25:08 pm »

As long as it's not food or dirt, is staying confined to the kid's own room (that is, isn't spilling into shared family spaces), and isn't interfering with the kid's ability to find their stuff and get their schoolwork done, I think that there's not much you can or should do about it.

I would add the caveat to this that, for some kids, having a clean living environment can make a profound behavioral change.  My oldest child is much more relaxed and better behaved when the house is clean.  He's only 5 and so it is hard for him to make that connection even though we (as adults) can see it clearly.  So even though we insist that food stays in the kitchen and his homework goes in the backpack when we aren't working on it actively, that isn't enough for his best behavior.  The common areas and his personal living space needs to be at least somewhat organized or he is much more easily upset or misbehaves.  So I do clean his space or help him clean his space for the sake of our family mental health.
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« Reply #11: September 02, 2010, 02:28:29 pm »

After a certain point -- like, when the kid starts really insisting on their privacy, around age 11 or so -- I don't think there's any reason you should be going into their room uninvited unless there's some kind of *genuine* need, as in harm to themselves or others and/or illegal activity.  A messy room is not worth breaking your kid's trust in you, and teaches them that your clean house is more important than their privacy.  

This is a huge thing.  I suspect part of the reason that I am as traumatised as I am is that it was pretty explicit that I had neither privacy nor reasonable expectation of same.  (We moved to a house that had lockable doors when I was ten.  If I ever actually locked my door I was screamed at until I melted into a puddle.  So I locked it for the psychological warding effect and just didn't close it far enough to latch.)

I fundamentally didn't understand why, if the room bothered her so much, she couldn't just leave my door closed like I wanted it.
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« Reply #12: September 02, 2010, 02:36:51 pm »

This is a huge thing.  I suspect part of the reason that I am as traumatised as I am is that it was pretty explicit that I had neither privacy nor reasonable expectation of same.  (We moved to a house that had lockable doors when I was ten.  If I ever actually locked my door I was screamed at until I melted into a puddle.  So I locked it for the psychological warding effect and just didn't close it far enough to latch.)

I fundamentally didn't understand why, if the room bothered her so much, she couldn't just leave my door closed like I wanted it.

I hear you. My mom would periodically go into my room and rearrange furniture, without asking me, and then scream and cry that I didn't respect everything she did for the family. To this day I'm incredibly paranoid and neurotic regarding other people rearranging my stuff. I have a very clear boundary of "this is mine, and that's yours, and if you ask you can poke around, but otherwise you will have a VERY upset Ellen on your hands."
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« Reply #13: September 02, 2010, 06:26:30 pm »

This is a huge thing.  I suspect part of the reason that I am as traumatised as I am is that it was pretty explicit that I had neither privacy nor reasonable expectation of same. 

With the lock bit of spite I would have taken the doorknob off if you were my kid, and then said close it all you want.  I'll just peep through the hole.

We have a household where privacy is a foreign word.  Two way street though.  My kids are the ones banging on the door yelling "are you having sex in there!!!"  I have no understanding of why a person would need to lock out or hide from family.  My reflexive thought is what's so incredibly secret that it requires a locked door?  The only thing I could even begin to guess would require hiding would be negative feeling directed at whomever is on the outside of that locked door.

I look back at those years, and the only things I ever needed a closed door for, were things that my parents wouldn't have approved of.  Paganism when I first began looking into it - and according to my own standards, their house their rules; and after something happened that should have been talked about but that I couldn't on my own.  Letting me hide out in that closed space was allowing retreat and leaving me to marinate in my own perspective that I was already drowning in.  What I needed and what I wanted were two very different things. 

There isn't much my boys could come up with to shock me, and we'll probably have some horrible discussion down the road to the lines of if there's a sock on the doorknob you don't want to open the door and see where the other sock is, and religion/ occult wise there's not much they could come up with that would bring about such intense disapproval that they would have to pursue it against my wishes. 

Our general household attitude is if you can't say or do it openly, you shouldn't be saying or doing it.  We're building the habit young, because shit talking - even when just to the self and anger behind closed doors is one of the most destructive and self destructive things a person could ever indulge in.

If you can't screw up the courage to say so and so's mom is a bitch in front of the entire family, you have no business saying it.  I think there was a difference in previous generations in that parents didn't disclose much about their teen years and phases so there was this feeling of being the first person in the world to feel the way teens do at times.

I provide that room and that door and when it is used to passively disrespect my authority then the choice will be taken out of said teen/tween's hands.  Shutting out one's family is to disrespect the authority that provides for you. 

You will either stand and speak your piece, which means afterward sitting your buns down and hearing mine  - whether you like what I have to say or no and then we will move on, or you will stfu and get over it. 

You want privacy?  When you get a job and move into your own place...  you'll have room mates to destroy the rest of that illusion for you. 

We have one TV, one computer and no phones or video games in the bedrooms.  That's one thing that irritates the daylights out of me when I see.  Teens locked up in their rooms laying in bed all day playing video games and whining about privacy when their parents attempt to drag them out to join the rest of the world.  In our house, it wont be happening.  The whole anti social misunderstood teen thing exists because parents tolerate it.
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And I'm gonna tell my son to be a prophet of mistakes
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And I'm gonna lock my son up in a tower
Till he learns to let his hair down far enough to climb outside.
-LIz Pahir
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« Reply #14: September 02, 2010, 06:30:29 pm »

With the lock bit of spite I would have taken the doorknob off if you were my kid, and then said close it all you want.  I'll just peep through the hole.

Good to know that nothing is good enough for you.
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