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Bedroom Wars

Mary, the “mom”

I’ve always tried to be consistent with my kids. I make my share of parenting mistakes, but my kids always know where I stand and what to expect from me. Except when it comes to the neatness, or shall I say, messiness, of their rooms. I just can’t seem to take a stand and stick to it. When they were younger, I made their beds and put away their laundry. I told them about it if they threw clothes on the floor, but I would pick them up. (I guess that’s where I went wrong.) As they grew, I realized that they needed to take some responsibility, so first I turned to make the bed over to them. Guess how often the beds get made. Then I found myself really busy and wondering why I was putting away laundry for three perfectly capable young people. Isn’t it enough that I wash it and fold it and deliver it to them? So, I turned that over to them. So now the older two only put their laundry away when an ultimatum is issued.

As for the overall neatness of the room, I’ve tried various approaches, all of which are variations of the concept that their rooms are their territory and their responsibility. Make as much of a mess as you want, but I’m not going to clean it up. I think that’s a great approach from the perspective that it puts the decisions and the consequences in their hands. Except, I just can’t stand it! I promise them it’s up to them and then I either go ballistic on them because their rooms are pigsties or refuse to even walk into their rooms because I can’t stand to see the mess, or not let them go somewhere until they straighten up, or I get really crazy and clean up their rooms myself (like I did last week).

Obviously, there is nothing consistent in my handling of this issue. And, I know in the grand scheme of things, clothes all over the floor isn’t such a big problem. But, it drives me crazy! So, “Dad”, how does your family handle the bedroom issue? Rach, help me out here – I know I’m driving my kids crazy. What’s a fair approach?

Brad, the “dad”

Ah, the ‘clean room’ thing. “Mom,” today I bring you a message of…well, utter hopelessness, with a little scootch of “don’t sweat the small stuff” right at the end.

We’ve been through it three times now, and we’re suffering through the third time now with The Elf, who I swear looks at me like I’m speaking Martian when I say, “clean your room.” “What?” her blank expression tells me. “What is this thing you call…’clean’? And I’m in a…what did you call it? ‘Room’? I don’t…”

We’ve had great success, I think — so far — in instilling a sense of fair play, compassion, empathy, and right action in our offspring. It’s borne us by their behavior on a daily basis, and I love them and am proud of them all the time. But not a single solitary strategy, tactic, approach, or manipulation ever made them clean their rooms. Not for more than a week. Not ever.

Leaving it alone until it’s a stinking pile of sticky-things doesn’t help. Doing it for them and hating yourself doesn’t help. Punishment, reward, lectures, grandparental intervention, weeping, shouting, and withholding everything from computer games to TV to locking them in with the stinking pile of etc. etc. … doesn’t work. Not more than once. And now that’s we’re lurching through the same challenge with the Elf as we have with the Other Ones, I’ve decided to do the one thing I haven’t tried before — the one thing that isn’t an actual felony, that is.

I’m giving up.

I visited our oldest daughter at her home recently. It was astonished at how reasonably clean and well-organized it was, and how she actually seemed to be doing her laundry and washing on regular basis. A few days later I visited the Valkyrie at college, and found her portion of the dorm room was neat as the proverbial pin, and that she had a drawer full of clean clothes she had actually — had actually (I’m sorry, I’m choking up a little here) — actually washed by herself. So in both cases, all those years of screaming and threatening and Sturm und Drang…well, it didn’t much matter. When the real rubber met the actual road, they responded to the deep-training that they received from the rest of the house and the rest of their lives to date. Turns out they take care of themselves just fine.

So in this one instance? I say let it go. Not a popular opinion, I know — not even in my own house — but if the kid is doing well in all the important areas, if he or she is treating other people well, staying away from the dangerous stuff, setting and achieving personal and family goals…then just let the room be the room, with all its issues of power-struggle, ownership, and territoriality, and only intervene in that last moment before the rats or the Health Department take over. In short: don’t sweat the small stuff, and you just might all survive to clean another day.

Rach, the “older teen”

My parents have never forced me to clean my room. They’ve asked me to tidy up when the company is coming over (so, when my grandparents take over my room), but other than that’s it’s always been up to me. So, when I was a kid my mom made my bed. Then when I was a young teen my room was piled with CDs and clothes. Now (as an older teen), my dorm room and my room at home are clean and mostly tidy. It makes a big difference in a small room.

I like what my parents did, they just kind of left it alone. Every once in a while they asked for me to be neat. I’ve always kind of got the feeling that they just don’t care about my room. I guess it really depends on how much you see the room. And how much you want it to be neat. If you make policy like they can’t go out (or have dessert, watch TV, play a video game) unless their room is spotless, and if you stick to that – then your kids will, hopefully, start keeping things a bit tidier.

I think a fair approach is to pick one. Does it make a huge difference to you? Then get a rule going. If it only kind of matters? Then don’t make a rule and ask for cleanliness every once in a while.

Lauren, the “younger teen”

Well, in my house, I am so clean that it really isn’t a problem. (I can’t even keep a straight face trying to type that since I am the exact opposite of clean!) The majority of teens have messy rooms, especially younger teens – that age group, for some odd reason, seems to be the worst in terms of room cleanliness. Somehow, it just doesn’t bother us, but parents (or at least my parents) it drives crazy! The only reason my room is ever even a little bit tidy is that my mom refuses to come in if it’s too messy. So, no matter what, there will be folded laundry in the basket (currently I am staring at 2 huge piles) that I haven’t put away and my desk always is cluttered, but if you catch me at the right time there might not be clothes spread out across my entire floor. I think pretty much all of my friends have messy rooms so it really isn’t a big deal in my mind, although my mom, I am sure, would beg to differ.

I think that our rooms are our own place to be a complete slob if we want to be. So, parents, I would just ignore them and let us throw our clothes across the room if we want to. Also, know that you’re certainly not alone, it’s not just your teen. So, when they say no one has clean rooms, they’re not exaggerating at all. Bottom line, you may have to just suck it up for these years and let your teen be themselves in their room. Remember, “Dad,” says it will get better when we’re older.

Love the Kid, Hate the Parents

Brad, the “dad”

The Elf is having a great time in her first month as a high school student. She’s even made a good new friend, and I’m happy about that – really I am. But just last week, at her first Back-to-School Night, I met the New Friend’s parents…

…and that’s when the trouble started.

I can’t stand them. Can’t STAND them. The way they treat their daughter, their opinions about the school, their politics – heck, their taste in clothing. From the moment I met them, it was one of those things, one of those vibes. I knew in an instant that this was not going to go well.

I managed to remain bland and non-committal throughout the conversation. I managed to dodge the invitation for a barbecue and I thank the gods of commuting that our carpool is already full. But here’s the question: how much should I trust the daughter? How much should I encourage (or discourage) this particular friendship? After all, if the parents are this repellent to me, how can they produce a truly healthy child? Shouldn’t I do my best to slowly, slowly ease the Elf away from this particular friend and towards someone more appropriate? More beneficial? Or at least one with parents I don’t want to throttle?

Or is it possible I’m just being a teeny bit selfish?

Mary, the “mom”

Don’t do it, “Dad”! Don’t discourage. Don’t ease the Elf away from New Friend. Let it be.

First, as we’ve talked about here before, it’s generally not a good idea to try and tell your kids who to be friends with. It often backfires. If you believed the friend herself was a bad influence, I might condone trying to ”ease away”, but it doesn’t sound like this is the case. On the other hand, you don’t have to encourage the friendship and you certainly shouldn’t subject yourself to her parents’ company, if you don’t want to.

Second, kids aren’t always a reflection of their parents. Sometimes, as parents, this bothers us. But, thinking about it from the perspective of the New Friend, I would have hated for someone to make judgments about me based upon their opinion of my father. There is no way anyone could divine anything about my beliefs and values from my father’s politics or how he dressed or even how he talked to me.

So, my advice is don’t discourage the friendship, but don’t encourage it either. And, try to give New Friend a chance. Maybe the Elf sees something you don’t because you couldn’t see past her parents.

Rach, the “teen”

I agree with “Mom” – don’t ween your daughter off this friend. You taught the Elf well, so she should be able to judge if the friend is a good addition to her growing army of teenage girls. Likewise, if this friend turns out to be iffy, she’ll know how to break it off.

Anyway, my parental units don’t know any of my friend’s parents. It’s not hard to avoid the friend’s un-cool parents. And if you really don’t want your daughter to be influenced by the friend’s parents, that’s easy: just get the friend to always hang at your house, and insist on you picking them up and dropping them off. More driving for you, but it might be worth it.

Don’t forget, everyone has messed up parents. And no one deserves to be judged by what their families are like.

In Too Much of a Hurry to Enjoy Life

Life is pretty busy these days, and I am as guilty as anyone at rushing through every day trying to accomplish as much as I can. Whether it be the work I do during the day, the projects I take on into the night, or the many activities and try to accomplish with my family, it seems I measure every day by how much have been able to get done during my waking hours. What has caused us to be in such a hurry? I do think computers have a lot to do with it, and the Internet has compounded it even more, begging us to multitask every minute of the day. Jobs expect more to get accomplished, and we try to manage conversations on the phone, instant messages being written, and reports being produced all at once. The fact that some of those chats are for fun, and that YouTube video in the background is not associated with work is beside the point. We try to consume as much information as possible, and more and more we stare at a screen for much of our day.

Now I know this is not the case for everyone, and I realize that I am on the computer far more every day than many people, but they are becoming more and more in the workforce like me. Whatever job you may do, we are seemingly always pressed for time or late for an appointment. As we rush through our day, are we simply and too much of a hurry to enjoy the journey?

In Too Much of a Hurry to Enjoy Life

This morning I found a link to a Washington Post article that discussed an experiment they made it speaks to this very fact. The Post engaged in a world-renowned violinist to play in the halls of a busy subway terminal in downtown Washington, DC. They speculated and asked others to speculate on what the results would be, whether people would stop and listen or hurry on their way. They went so far as to install a hidden camera to record the results as complex, beautiful music was played on a $3.5 million violin. Would the busybodies of that morning have their minds and souls pricked to the point that they would take a moment out of their busy day and rush to get to work to listen and appreciate this rare moment they were being presented with?

Now keep in mind the location they chose for their experiment was one that feeds into our nation’s capital, so likely the majority of the travelers that morning represent government workers; integral minds playing a role in running the systems that control our nation. These are people we would hope are better than the average at intellectual capacity, and therefore have a sense of life’s finer things and beauty. At least that is what I think.

Now of course I predisposed you to the outcome of this situation with my title to this article. With over a thousand people passing by during the 45-minute experiment, only a small handful chose to stop and listen even for a few minutes, and even fewer through a dollar or two into his open case which was presented for donations part of the experiment.

So I ask you, and myself, is this a sad commentary on the way we are treating our typical day in much of our lives? Are we in such a rush to accomplish things and is our need to be to her destination on time so important that we missed the small opportunities to appreciate the beauty around us? Do we let the drudgery of a daily routine turn us into robots such that we are unable to let the right side of our brain remain open and available? It is not every day that we have a virtuoso on the corner playing a complex musical solo, but there are many things that happen all around us that if it would stop and take a moment to enjoy them our lives would be enriched by that small break in our day.

In Too Much of a Hurry to Enjoy Life

Perhaps I’m waxing too philosophical at the point being made by this experiment provided by the Post, but I feel in reading this article I have had a small light bulb turn on my mind. Though it is difficult to measure these little things and enrich our lives, is what makes us who we are. That is hard to understand when getting the next project on or earning that extra dollar is much easier for us to measure and it affects us in a more outward way. But why is it that we work so hard? Is it not to provide the time and means to enjoy ourselves? We work so hard to accrue vacation days and the money to go on vacation and to splurge on those trips were gadgets or other things that bring us enjoyment.

Give the article a read, and one of the videos at least and see if it makes you stop and think as it did for me. If perhaps we were to focus just a little more on those little enjoyments we can get each and every day, perhaps we would be better, happier people for it. At least that’s my thought for the day, and that might to try and make that thought stick from this point forward.


FINLANDFinns place great value on equal rights, so their language uses gender-neutral words. It is also said that they are modest and discreet, that they care about their social status and they also expect the others to respect these values, not to be noisy or attract attention. In Finland, interrupting someone while speaking means you’re being impolite.

Finns are very passionate about saunas and because of that you meet them everywhere. Families and friends get together frequently in the sauna. Even business meetings are sometimes organized in a sauna, in order for the business partners to relax and have the opportunity of getting to know each other better. Many summer homes or cottages have their own sauna.

When they meet new people, the Finns shake hands firmly, they smile and look them in the eye. When meeting with a couple, the first one to be saluted is the wife. If you’re invited to a Finnish home, do not forget to bring flowers, FINLANDchocolates or a bottle of wine. The flowers are offered only in even number and are never gifted in a patchwork. It is customary for gifts to be opened when received. In Finland they put the accent on punctuality, so be sure you arrive on time. Take off your shoes outside the entrance. Call before you go and ask if you could bring something to eat and offer to help prepare ingredients and food preparation. Do not discuss business at home. During the meal, keep your hands and wrists to the table. Use your cutlery while eating, except for the bread and shrimp, which are eaten with your hands. Try to eat everything that is offered.

If you’re thinking of visiting Finland, you should first consider on seeing its capital, Helsinki, which is the biggest town in this country. This city manages to create a sense of space, although compared to other European capitals it is considerably small. You won’t regret it if you choose to visit it!


CHILEToday, Chile is a nation in South America, which is very stable and prosperous. The country is the first among Latin American nations in human development, competitiveness, quality of life, political stability, globalization, economic freedom, low corruption and also low level of poverty. It also occupies a leading position in the freedom of the press and democratic development. However, it presents a great diversity of incomes.

Talca is a small town in Chile, where a bizarre custom is held every New Year. For about 15 years, the residents of this town are spending New Year’s Eve with their loved ones, living or dead. At 11 pm, at New Year’s Eve, the cemetery gates open and people (already over 5,000 souls every year) are preparing for the party with music, candles, drinks and food. It all started from a family who wanted to spend New Year with the recently deceased father. The tradition grew and the cemeteries in the city are cheerful every year.

CHILEChile is the kind of country that never sleeps, and its capital is tireless. So if your daytime tours seem boring or if the museums and the old buildings are not in your vacation plan, there is a tour that will introduce to you the most vibrant part of the city. If you’re a party person, this tour will fit you like a glove. All you have to do is to join a group of tourists and visit all the bars and the interesting restaurants of the city.

The cost is insignificant, compared to the fun you’ll have once you’ll join all who want to experience the nightlife in Santiago. The night will end grandiosely, once you will enter one of the most prestigious clubs in the city, where you’ll going to party until the morning.

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