I’m standing in the doorway to my daughters bedroom. I’m reluctant to pass the threshold from my clean, undisturbed hallway carpet into what appears to be a war zone that smells like a farm animal and it’s all so she can look like this every day with no cares in the world.
So I plug my nose, and go forth into the dungeon of that teenagers chaos. I grab my cleaning caddy, bin liners and begin to clean.
I bet you’re asking yourself why the hell I would choose to clean Wotsits out of someone’s bed that are clearly able to do this themselves? Well I want to shed some light on why I do what I do. To be clear, my daughters bedroom is not the only horse poop smelling room I clean. I do the same with my youngest daughter who is nearly ten. And, might I add, her room is far worse. I’m talking about her room’s a freaking freak show. Nail polish open on the window sill, makeup caked into the carpet. I literally found a piece of cheese in her bed. Like, good, very expensive bluddy cheese just left there to petrify and die in her nasty little bed quilt along with all the other nastiest things you couldn’t even imagine.
I often clean my teenagers room at least once a week, well because they’re a bundle of confused hormones with an enormous amount of responsibility stemming from high school between sports, academics, and expectations from family and friends. Not only that, but teenagers are thrust from childhood into a world that expects them to learn how how to drive a car, go get a job, get all their homework done, keep their rooms clean, make friends, keep friends, get rid of bad friends, learn about sex, talk about sex, maybe have sex (oh hell no!!) and the list goes on.
The expectations we put on young people, without recognizing their vulnerability, their lack of developmental maturity to process and complete all the tasks we ask of them, is a road block to a healthy teenage/parent relationship. How do I know this? Trial and error. I read, I process, I put into action different modalities, until I find a way that feels good for us all. And by this, I mean, actions that create harmony, happiness, and feel heart-centered. Nothing based on fear, or physical or mental punishment.
One of the books that has help shaped my ideas of parenting through understanding, simple actions, and love, is “Yes, Your Teen Is Crazy!” by Dr. Michael J. Bradly. Dr. Bradley provides readers with the science behind the “modern” teenage brain, and offers explicit information on how to parent these teenagers of today. Being able to take a step back, a deep breath, and let your guard down in knowing that our kids are not literally trying to kill us – they just can’t help it – is the next best thing to wine (nothing will ever beat that cold glass of wine at the end of a hard day but the mid book comes close).
This is why I started cleaning my teenagers bedroom. I realized why we were butting heads constantly. They’re overwhelmed, fearful, and not able to process everything that was happening to them. When we yell at them to get what we want, we are actually digging a hole, one that we inevitably sink into, further and further away from the very teenagers who need us more than ever. They need simplicity in their crazy little life. They need to feel empowered, they need to feel loved. Will cleaning their room inhibit their ability to be responsible young adults who can go to college and get jobs? No. It won’t.
What it will do is offer them a safe, clean, happy, and Chaos-free place to come home to and do their homework. It’ll show them that you appreciate how well they’re doing in school, or it’ll show them that you want them to have more time to focus on school if they aren’t doing so well.
It’ll show them that you know how hard they’re working at relationships, and that you appreciate their helping with dinner, or playing with their younger sister. It will show them that you understand, that you’ve been an overwhelmed teenager before, and that you get it. Above all, that you get it!!
This is how connection is built. And from connection, empathy grows, and empathy is the tie that binds us all to one another. Especially, those bluddy teenagers.
So, yes, I scrub, vacuum, wipe, fold, put away, and finally I light nice smelling candles. I stand back, and smile at this tiny offering of love, and wait for them to come home, mumble a “aww thank you mum,” and then give me a winced teenage smelling hug.
Do you clean your teenagers bedroom?! Tell me what you prefer in the comments below.