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You Too Can Learn to Pick Up a DishRag

by (posted March 16, 2009)

This appears to be news to many, but parenting involves more than just giving birth.  I’m not even thinking about the Nadya Suleman’s of this world.  Even supposedly ‘good’ parents seem to be failing at the basic tasks.

The most fundamental thing a parent needs to do is equip a child to cope independently with life, and most people are failing at it.

I’ve had lodgers on and off for some time now.  Each and every person in response to the adverts claims to be "neat and tidy", "housetrained", "clean and tidy" or similar.  So, they’re acknowledging that being basically clean in shared space is a good thing.

So, why does a supposedly ‘housetrained’ 22 year old have to ask his landlady how to work a hoover?  How does an allegedly ‘clean and tidy’ 25 year old have to be asked not to use the same cloths to wash up as she does to wipe muck off the floor?  What right does a 24 year old have to refer to himself as ‘mature’ when he can’t make cheese on toast?

Most of the people who come to stay in my flat have no idea how to do the most basic cleaning tasks, let alone cooking.  I even have a dishwasher.  Moping floors, doing laundry, cleaning the bathroom, wiping down kitchen work surfaces.  Even just putting their own rubbish in the bin.  This is not rocket science folks.

It’s not that these people are too stupid to learn how to do such things.  They can (and very swiftly do) learn to take care of themselves or they’re shown the door.  But it shouldn’t be up to me, their landlady, to teach them how to take care of themselves as adults.  That’s what their parents should have spent the last 20+ years teaching them.

You may think you’re being nice and kind in not making your children do chores, or in just making them tidy their room.  You’re not.  You’re failing to instil in them a sense of personal responsibility for shared space and not teaching them how to keep their surroundings pleasant and disease-free.

It might not be modern, and it doesn’t fit with trying to be their ‘best friend’, but sometimes a parent has to be the grown up in the relationship and tell kids what they have to do and how to do it.  Because if you don’t, I have to.  And believe me, I’m going to be a lot more heartless about it than you.

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