Parenting and judgement go hand in hand. No matter how old your kids are or how you decide to do things, you’re most likely going to be met with sideways glances and unhelpful passive-aggressive comments along the way. Often people don’t mean to be rude or act judgy but it comes across as this and it does sting a little bit.
It starts with breastfeeding, co-sleeping, dummy use, snacks, and screen time. And it continues. Even when they are teens, you can still expect plenty of judgement, especially if you happen to share your life with strangers on social media.
Case in point: Shannon Tarkey. She’s a mum of five (including triplets) and decided to send shockwaves through her socials by announcing that she cleans her teen’s room.
Shannon shared a video on Instagram showing how she makes her son’s bed and picks up his clothes.
“I started doing this every morning for my teenager. Not because he won’t do it. Not because I do everything for him. But because teenagers are now growing up in a very strange and complicated world and I want him to feel at peace when he comes home.
It is my job to make my children feel at peace so if it’s picking up a few pieces of clothes or making his bed then I am more than happy to do it for him.”
The mum’s decision to tidy up her son’s room every day, instead of making him do it himself, has sparked a pretty intense debate with many commenters unhappy with Shannon’s parenting choice. Not that it impacts them, but, hey, that’s par for the course when you share things on socials.
Tidy teen’s room now, entitlement later
The main issue people had was that this small routine was setting her son up to be entitled and to expect people will simply pick up after him for the rest of his life. A lazy teen now means an entitled husband later, according to some.
“Ooooh he gonna make his wife so furious one day expecting a clean house but not helping,” one commenter mentioned.
“Although this is very kind and sweet of you, when he gets married he will think this is also what his wife should do for him. I married a man who thought I was supposed to be just like his mom. It took many years for my husband to learn to serve in the home.”
Of course, this is a valid argument and I totally agree that teens need to learn to be responsible. Teenagers should be able to clean their own rooms. To make beds. To hang up and fold clothing. To dust and vacuum.
My teen son is fully capable of picking his crap off the floor and making his bed. And some days he will. But, most of the time (and please don’t come at me with a pitchfork for saying this), he doesn’t. He doesn’t see the need in it, claiming he’s going to be messing it up soon enough anyway.
But, because I’m a crazy hooman who feels incomplete if the beds aren’t made in the morning, I do it for him as part of my morning routine. Yes, ladies and gents, often I make my teen son’s bed for him. After I have my coffee and before I wipe the toothpaste spit off the glass mirror, I sneak into my son’s room and make his room look neat and clean so he has a nice space to come home to.
And, if I’m being honest, I also tidy up my tween daughter’s room on occasion too. I enjoy doing it. It sparks joy. She collects a lot of stuff – skincare, makeup, clothes, shoes, Squihsmallows – and going through the stuff that’s gathering dust or taking up space in her room is quite cathartic. I love seeing her room look neat and I love being able to do this for her still.
Small acts of kindness could lead to… kindness
Other mothers admit that they too, still like to do things for their kids, including tidying up their rooms.
“My baby is 15 and after she leaves for school I clean her room,” shared one mom. “I plug up her iPad/Mac etc so they are charged and ready for when she comes home. I make breakfast, lunch, iron outfits, comb hair, and do anything else I think she needs from me. She has years as an adult but her time as a child is limited.”
“My Mother used to do that for me and said the same thing. I tried to do the same. There is plenty of time to be an adult…”
Are we babying our teens by doing this for them? Are we raising a generation of entitled, lazy, bubble-wrapped kids who can’t even clean their rooms? Or, could this simple act go the other way and not bring out entitlement, but instead demonstrate the importance of small acts of kindness?
Maybe one day the teen with the tidy room will tell his mum that he really appreciated it and that this simple act of kindness made him feel safe and peaceful at home. It brought him comfort and security in a very uncertain world.
Maybe, if this teen sees her doing this every day for her kids, he will grow up to want to be a caring, kind and helpful parent to his children one day.
Of course, what one person sees as kindness, another might see as enabling. And there really isn’t any right or wrong way to look at this situation either. To each their own.
But we’re curious. Do you think cleaning your teen’s room is simply an act of kindness or could it be setting a teen up for failure down the road?