This opinion piece may spark a few arguments but I feel it has to be said. The house may be a filthy mess; but better that than a messed up family. I think many have preferenced the cleanliness of their household over maintaining a healthy relationship with their family or housemates. The urgency to have what you want, done right now, should not be held higher than the guidance you give your child.
Now I cannot say that for every single situation that parents or people yelling about housework is the wrong thing to do. However I will say that it is rarely something I believe is ever needed. Yelling and screaming is something a toddler does when they don't get a treat from the shops. Not getting what they want, done right now, causes a toddler to yell and scream.
"The most important thing that parents can teach their children is how to get along without them" - Frank Clark. We guide our children with our lives; yet sometimes we fail to guide them when we aren't pleased with their actions. Am I a rebelling teen trying to write my way out of doing my chores? I hope I can convince you I am not! I'm an independent person living with housemates and caring for a lovely puppy.
The dinner table is where it happens at my house. Discussions about who was guilty of not cleaning their plates and boastings about how this or that person had been cleaning all day. I walk in the kitchen after a long day at work and see someone cooking or wiping a bench; suddenly I wonder if they are judging me for not having already started what they are now doing. Is this how it should feel in a home?
These are constants in many households, but to me it sounds like these households are becoming courtrooms. I do not want to hear if I'm guilty of a crime while I'm eating dinner in a place that should be my haven. I do not want to listen to people boast that they cleaned the bathroom- while I did not- as if that makes them superior to me. Is this how we determine the worth of a house member in today's society?
I live in a home of first world problems. I work hard and I try my best to do what I can, but I am hardly perfect. I have lazy moments, I have flaws and I have things I do not enjoy doing. However instead of receiving guidance for my imperfections I feel like when it comes to homely duties it is deemed okay to judge and accuse. I do not like thinking that just because it is the "responsible and right thing to do" to keep a clean house; that people have accepted judgmental and even aggressive attitudes to achieve a clean house.
I like a clean house. As a sufferer of generalized anxiety disorder I get very distressed when there is a large mess around me and not enough time to accomplish everything I need. Yet the notion that such a small matter could give me the right to scream "why the FUCK hasn't anyone done ANYTHING today?" or to sit over dinner and say, "well I don't know what you've been doing, but I'VE been cleaning all day." It is my personal opinion that such behavior is unbecoming and does not accomplish anything but to teach our children that judgementalism is OKAY if housework is the issue.
I remember as a child my mother's partner would say that I never did enough cleaning and that it was my fault his business had failed. This was because he had to spend all his time cleaning up after everyone while I did nothing but play. Hearing that it was my fault, at 14, that someone's business had failed had really hit me hard. I was filled with guilt and wished I had made better choices so that I wasn't such a burden to my family.
Today I realize that my inability to meet all my step father's requirements was not a valid reason for his failed business. My inability to prioritize was a result of my upbringing at the time, and his failed business was a result of his own choices in everyday life. Growing up, my time was spent feeling guilty for things out of my control, and doing things to distract myself from these feelings. I would play as a distraction from feelings I didn't know how to deal with, and I would feel guilty for not understanding why I wasn't being more responsible.
Today I spend extra time learning how to prioritize by noticing when I am avoiding feelings of anxiety instead of doing what needs to be done. It is something I face every single day and I do not wish this challenge on anyone. As parents we can teach such a simple thing to become second nature to our children. Yet instead I see so many people instilling fear and guilt where a simple guiding hand would accomplish so much more.
Whenever I hear a housemate boast about their cleaning I am reminded of children boasting about their chores in order to please the courtroom they call home. A child is not special and worthy because they have cleaned their room; they are special and worthy because they are your child. And there is no use rewarding the cleanliness of a room if the intention was simply to avoid punishment. The intention is where the guidance is often lacking...
I will do the dishes if it means I don't get yelled at is a very shallow level of maturity and understanding. Where is the empathy for you as a parent? Where is the understanding of why cleanliness is important? Where is the desire to maintain health as a result of such cleanliness? Furthermore why is there no appreciation of being able to care for your possessions in the first place? Everything is replaced by this courtroom so common and so shallow I wish to beat it with my broom rather than follow its game.
I personally declare politics to have no place in the running of a household. What should be in place is true guidance and a sharing of empathy, a sharing of understanding... I loathe the use of judgementalism and accusation as a way to bring kids in line. If a person is not functioning on a responsible level, then they are missing a crucial skill or understanding to do so. The home is not a courtroom, it is a school, and you are the teacher. If you wish to teach your children to be clean on the surface, the shallow understanding of homely cleanliness, then go on; point your ignorant finger.
One day that finger will point right on back.