Reality Check - Clean Your Room

I still can't believe it.

Jaden Smith (Credit: AP/Evan Agostini-as posted at

I have always been a fan of Will Smith.  I like his acting, his music for the most part (I'm not big on rap) and I was impressed at his marriage lasting in today's Hollywood climate.  I often wondered how they were raising their kids in such a wealthy and twisted world. we know, sort of.

Apparently Jaden decided that school is for the dogs.  Well, what 15 year old doesn't usually feel that way - I mean, I don't think junior high is anyone's favorite memory, right?  Or even your sophomore year? Well, the end of the article quoted Will Smith as saying that the way parents treat children is kind of like slavery/property, and:
             "We respect our children the way we would respect any other person. Things like cleaning
               up their room. You would never tell a full-grown adult to clean their room, so we don't tell
               our kids to clean their rooms."

Okay.  Well.  I happen to disagree.  I guess we all have the right to our opinions, and since I've had seven kids, perhaps I might have a little more say than him, because they've had two.  Who knows.  It doesn't exactly make me an expert, but I might know a little.

I have adult children that live in my home.  They even pay rent.  But you know what?  Sometimes they are messy.  We've told them to clean it up.  It's a place where several people live, and private space or not, there is a certain level expected for civilized living.  I don't expect anything of them that I don't demand of myself, so I figure that's fair.

But besides that - how else does a child learn??  By example?  That only goes so far.  What kid wants to clean their room??  Some do, and that's cool.  But usually a parent has to remind them.  It's not what their world revolves around.  But the vast majority?  Hey, there's lots more to life than cleaning your room.  There is the great outdoors, sports, games, friends, food..."Ah, Mom!  You want me to clean my room?  Again?  But I just cleaned it last week..."  Believe it or not, I remember being on the other end of that.  I would resolve to keep my room cleaned this time!  It would be perfect!  And within a month, I'd be having to step over things.  Again.  sigh.  So reality sucks.  So does being a parent.  And being a parent means you teach your children what being responsible is about.

That means you might have to tell them some things they might not want to hear.  Like "You need to clean your room before mold starts growing on your socks."  Or, "You need to brush your teeth before they start falling out."  Or  "It's your turn to empty the garbage and you need to do it now before the dogs scatter it all over the house again."  Or "Turn off the lights when you leave the room or you won't have any power to your room next time the power bill is over $200."  How about "Put your dishes in the dishwasher when you're done or you'll have to wash all the dishes by hand for a week."  See, it's all responsibility and consequences.  

When kids move out on their own they'll discover that the dishes don't wash themselves, clothes don't magically wash and dry themselves, and rooms aren't self cleaning.  It's one of those facts of life that most kids learn before they reach 15.

Hate to tell ya, Jaden, you would hate to live in my house.  I don't have a housekeeper, cook, or butler.  You'd be on your own.  But my kids know how to cook, wash their own clothes, mow the lawn, and do the dishes.  They might not always like doing those things, and sometimes they have to be reminded on a couple of them, but for the most part?  They know it's part of living with other humans.  Period.

Guess money doesn't buy you everything, huh?


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