For the last thousand years, parents have been screaming at their kids to “clean their rooms”. This fight over something so seemingly, inconsequentially benign is either important or it’s not. It is either worth all the yelling and fighting or it’s been a monumental waste of time for millions of parents over ions of time. To some, the idea of forcing your kids to clean their room is battle left for another day and to others, it is a war that must be won at all costs.
Having a clean room has its advantages but those advantages are often not understood nor are they high on the scale of importance when other more important events remain looming in the distance. What does it matter if every towel in the house is sitting on the floor of your son’s room, festering and molding, when the fate of the world is in the hands of a crazed dictator.
Even the term “cleanliness is next to Godliness” may not have application if the desire for cleanliness is overshadowed by more pressing events, like depression or illness or even the belief in a God that bridges the gap of worldly chaos and motivates an individual toward cleanliness. Cleaning one’s room cannot be that important.
I very rarely cleaned my room but then I had a maid, Candy, short for Candelaria, she cleaned my room at least three times a week or when my mother couldn’t get into my room to tell me to clean my room. I never did understand what the big deal was. After all, it was my room I thought, and I could live in it the way I wanted.
Looking back however and looking through the eyes of experience and understanding, I am beginning to understand the reasons that my mother wanted me to attempt to clean my room. She may not have known or understood but she was right, as are all mothers. They may be been driven by differing motivation but their desires for us to clean our rooms create a foundational process of maturity and in a way starts the learning processes of life in general.
So often, and especially these days our youth are hell-bent on forging their own path toward a different future than the ones we may see. That is all well and good, but they often try to change the future without understanding the past nor relying upon the skills of those who have learned those essential lessons that established the levels of society that allows them to choose, again, nothing new here, it’s always been that way to some extent.
But now, they are willing to force their will, manipulate the present, organize a movement and create a new and “better” society without even knowing where their socks are or how to put a shirt or dress back into the closet. Our children cannot clean their rooms, but we think they're ready to create legislation about gun control? They fail to replace the wet towels on their floor, but we think they are ready for rational thought? Same as always?
Cleaning a room may not seem like much, in fact, it is often construed as an activity that is beneath our children, they have so many more important things to do. There is perhaps nothing more important to do when your young but to learn those fundamental lessons learned from organizing your lives by folding your clothes, picking up your socks, hanging up the wet towels so that you have a dry towel tomorrow. It is through this simple process that the more complex societal procedures can be understood.
If we want our children to learn to be functional members of a functional society than perhaps as adults we should start demanding that our children, even our older children still at home learn how to pick up after themselves, clean their rooms and maintain their lives.
I was never that great at doing my chores, but when I was asked I did make the attempt to cut the lawn, clean the pond (yes, I had a cement pond with fish that I had to clean) weed the rose garden, rake the leaves that fell constantly on the path behind the house and whatever else I was asked to do. I crumbled, I complained and most the time I did a poor job and rarely completed the assigned tasks to my father’s standers, but I did what I was asked.
Whether it’s cleaning their rooms, doing the dishes or helping with the general upkeep of the house, our children need to be engaged and held responsible. It is this process that helps a child learn the differences between selfishness and altruism, the difference between being egotistical and humble.
Most children will not develop these essential traits of maturity without being held responsible for their actions. We rarely hold our children to the standards of the past and just assume they will learn the skills of sobriety as they age. It is not happening…Something has to change…