Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Disorderly living --- help ( No Answer,   17 Comments )
Subject: Disorderly living --- help
Category: Family and Home > Parenting
Asked by: limegreen-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 18 Nov 2005 19:36 PST
Expires: 18 Dec 2005 19:36 PST
Question ID: 595011
I need help convincing my teenaged daughter as to the desirabilty of
maintaining a more orderly existence.  Her room and anywhere else she
inhabits quickly becomes buried in trash.

I'm not asking how to discipline her.  I'm asking for a longish list
of plausible sounding reasons as to why someone would benefit from
getting organized.  It does not have to be in paragraph form.  A list
might work.  Throw in some religious beliefs, if you wish.  Perhaps
some good quotes from famous people past or present would help to
persuade or motivate too.  Thanks!
There is no answer at this time.

Subject: Re: Disorderly living --- help
From: archae0pteryx-ga on 18 Nov 2005 22:12 PST
So sorry, limegreen, but it isn't going to work.  It's not lack of
reasons that's causing the mess.  What's desirable to you obviously
isn't desirable to her.

One thing you might try to find out, though (kindly and calmly), is if
she actually knows how to clean up, get rid of things, etc.  What may
seem screamingly self-evident to a person who's naturally tidy can be
an utterly bewildering mystery to someone who has no idea why messes
follow her, doesn't have a sense of what to keep and what to throw
away, has some kind of overriding attachment to her stuff (or fear of
letting go of it), doesn't get the principles or sequence of cleanup,
whatever (the list goes on).  Don't assume she *won't*.  Maybe she
needs teaching, not reasons.  Maybe she hates it but doesn't know how
to change it.

Or maybe--maybe she actually likes it the way it is.

Subject: Re: Disorderly living --- help
From: markvmd-ga on 18 Nov 2005 22:41 PST
How about the wonderful poem "Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout"?
Subject: Re: Disorderly living --- help
From: nautico-ga on 19 Nov 2005 06:45 PST
This one struck a chord. I have two sons three years apart in age.
When they were in their early teens, the older boy began to exhibit
the kind of disorganization you describe. "Slovenly" would be more on
point. In order to open the door to his bedroom, one had to push it
against the resistance of accumulated dirty underwear strewn about the
floor. Across the hall was his younger brother's bedroom, where ironed
t-shirts hung on color coded hangars placed equidistant on the closet

The boys are now 30 and 33. How did they develop, you ask? The neatnik
is a financial analyst in a mid-size company and making $60,000/year.
The slob is a Wall St. wunderkind pulling down $500,000-plus.

My advice: Don't assign any long-term significance to the sloppiness of a teenager.
Subject: Re: Disorderly living --- help
From: nelson-ga on 19 Nov 2005 06:49 PST
Teenagers will be teenagers.  You had the kid, she's your
responsibility.  Go in there and clean it for her.  You'll be amazed
at how she'll change when she hits her 20s.  You don't want to do
anything to make resent you over what is really a minor issue.  It is
her room (well, sort of, since she doesn't pay rent).  Let her express
herself.  It's not as if she's the only teenager who has ever done

My office is nice and neat.  My house however is covered in dust and dust bunnies.
Subject: Re: Disorderly living --- help
From: archae0pteryx-ga on 19 Nov 2005 10:47 PST
I must disagree strongly with Nelson.  Going in and dealing with your
daughter's things is an invasion of privacy as well as a usurpation of
responsibility.  You also risk causing a significant loss:  people's
valuables and treasures can't necessarily be identified by their
appearance.  Whether you agree with her style and habits or not, you
have to respect her separateness.  It's your job to teach her, not to
do for her.  You might ask if she *wants* your help.  If not, tell her
she has to keep the disaster area inside her four walls.  It's your
affair only if mold, vermin, or fire hazards become a problem.

I also think Nautico's right on in pointing out that an adolescent's
untidy room is no predictor of future success.  The story of the two
sons rings absolutely true to me.  In fact, I think a certain amount
of apparent (to others) disorder and even chaos is closely tied to
creativity.  (I must own up to the fact that I'm of the
any-bare-surface-is-an-opportunity school of thought.)

If your daughter has *asked* for reasons (did she actually say, "Why
should I?"), and that's what's behind your question--she's stalling.

Subject: Re: Disorderly living --- help
From: mongolia-ga on 20 Nov 2005 11:20 PST

I once was reading a book about Microsoft and Bill Gates. When Bill
Gates was a teenager his bedroom was an incomprehensible mess. So much
so that Bill's parents hired a therapist to see if he could resolve
the issue of Bill's messy bedroom.

Luckily (for Bill) the therapists advice to the Gates parents was 


Subject: Re: Disorderly living --- help
From: wellen-ga on 21 Nov 2005 22:48 PST
I was also one of those messy teens and turned out ok. I did not
realize until I was married that my problem was indeed that I did not
know just how things were to be done nor how to keep them that way. My
mother told me but didn't show me (or maybe she did and I just don't
remember.....I'm 59 now). I also remember that when I did clean my
room, I thought it was fine, but it wasn't good enough so she would
re-clean it. She was never angry or nasty about it, and probably felt
like she was helping me, but it made me feel like I could not do it.
Watch out for that.

Plus, I was so busy then that my mind was always far away and my
messiness didn't bother me a bit because I never "saw" it (never
focused my attention on it for long).

But, if you want to have some fun, and pick up some great tips, maybe
the two of you can check out   :-)

Subject: Re: Disorderly living --- help
From: angy-ga on 22 Nov 2005 02:02 PST
I'm in agreement with Wellen (I'm even 59, too).

My house is a teenage looking mess and my office also seems to be a
mess. But my mind is not. I know where everything is - and woe betide
anyone who moves a piece of paper in the name of "tidying".

I was never taught how to keep house - I was in the "upper" classes at
school, we didn't do "domestic science", and my mother had help in the
house which I've rarely been able to afford.

(NB she did teach me to sew - very useful.)

None of my otherwise-all-male household care about how the house
looks. I don't think they even see it. They're even more hopeless at
knowing where to start - eg "sweep before you vacuum" is an alien

So make sure she actually knows how to go about it, and leave well
enough alone unless a) there is a very strange smell from her room OR
b) there are wall-to-wall running insects originating from the room.
Subject: Re: Disorderly living --- help
From: gloubiboul-ga on 30 Nov 2005 18:28 PST
It is ironic that you ask for an advice on how to teach your daughter
the rules of (law &) order, and mostly get an advice on how to modify
your own expectations.
I think all the comments are right, welcome to Teen Age. 
There is a reason why your daughter is messy, she is showing you that
she is taking the matter in her own hands, and does not need your
advice/orders any more. So the worst thing you can do is to
continuously tell her how messy her room is.
The best course of action would be to accept that she is now a grown
up and can decide and handle her own life. Then she will ask for your
help to deal with new problems.
So, if dirty clothes are everywhere, just give her a basket where she
can put the clothes in need of a wash, and wash only what is in the
basket. When she does not have anything to wear anymore, she will
understand the benefit of the basket :-)
Enjoy this new step in her life,
Subject: Re: Disorderly living --- help
From: caltawney-ga on 09 Dec 2005 06:12 PST
It sounds like you simply have a rebelling teenager on your hands.
However, if the disorganization and lack of ability to focus is in
others areas of her life, you may have a child with ADD.
Subject: Re: Disorderly living --- help
From: yellowhelix-ga on 12 Mar 2006 00:01 PST
to archae0pteryx:
Im an older teenager in a messy room and i need help. Thats why I'm
here typing and not tidying my room like i should. its overwhelming
and i don't know where to start. i don't need reasons- i've got
pleanty- i need advice. Help!
Subject: Re: Disorderly living --- help
From: yellowhelix-ga on 12 Mar 2006 04:52 PST
Ps I don't have ADD, am not a rebeling teenager, and am not making a
statement about "taking things in my own hands" or am unapreciative of
my loving parents "adive/orders".
Subject: Re: Disorderly living --- help
From: yellowhelix-ga on 12 Mar 2006 05:03 PST
-Accidently posted half way through. anyways, whilst these may be
contributing factors in limegreen's teenager's case, they are not
necassaraly (nor likely) the case. I suspect archae0pteryx is right.
How DO you do it? I can put dirty clothes in the wash, but what do you
do with the REST of it? oh and i would not agree with Nelson. The last
thing i would is for my mother to have to spend HER time Tidying MY
-I need help. not someone to do it for me.
Subject: Re: Disorderly living --- help
From: archae0pteryx-ga on 12 Mar 2006 12:36 PST
Hi, yellowhelix,

I'm on my way out at the moment but will come back later and respond
to you.  I think I know very well and very personally what you are
talking about.  One of the hardest things about it is dealing with the
folks who make all the other assumptions, including that you must LIKE
it that way.  People who don't have that particular difficulty
themselves tend to be extremely uncomprehending and severely

Subject: Re: Disorderly living --- help
From: myoarin-ga on 12 Mar 2006 13:41 PST
Hi Tryx,
Good to see you around.  Hope your book is getting on well.
Subject: Re: Disorderly living --- help
From: archae0pteryx-ga on 12 Mar 2006 21:32 PST
Hi, Myo.  Been heavily preoccupied with some family health matters,
but I'm still putting in time on my book every single day without fail
(and keeping up with my full-time job).  Had to change my tack and
start leaving a lot of blanks for later research so I could get on
with the story.  In the process some interesting new themes have
turned up.  I won't say more here.  Someday we'll chat over a glass of
wine, hm?

Nice to see you too.
Subject: Re: Disorderly living --- help
From: archae0pteryx-ga on 12 Mar 2006 21:44 PST
Hi, yellowhelix,

Whether I can help you, I don't know, but maybe we can learn a little
more.  Let me ask you a few questions.
- Are you unable to get started picking up, or do you get started and
then get bogged down and quit?  What happens to you when you try?
- What does your mess consist of mostly, besides clothes that need to
go in the hamper?  Is there any particular kind of thing that you
accumulate, or some general pattern to what you can't get rid of?  Is
it mostly stuff you know is truly trash, or is it good, valuable junk
(valuable to you)?  Or are we talking about dirt and not junk?
- What kinds of help have you already tried? and what happened?

Note, I am not a researcher, just a commenter, and I have no
professional credentials in this area.  But I do have some Experience.

It's just possible that limegreen might pick up a useful idea or two
from this exchange, too.


Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy