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Monday, July 30, 2012
Cleaning House review
Is Your Home Out of Order? Do your kids think that clean, folded clothes magically appear in their drawers? Do they roll their eyes when you suggest they clean the bathroom? Do you think it’s your job to pave their road to success? As parents, so often we hover, race in to save, and do everything we can for our kids—unintentionally reinforcing their belief that the world revolves around them.
When Kay Wyma realized that an attitude of entitlement had crept into her home, this mother of five got some attitude of her own. Cleaning House is her account of a year-long campaign to introduce her kids to basic life skills. From making beds to grocery shopping to refinishing a deck chair, the Wyma family experienced for themselves the ways meaningful work can transform self-absorption into earned self-confidence and concern for others.
With irresistible humor and refreshing insights, Kay candidly details the ups and downs of removing her own kids from the center of the universe. The changes that take place in her household will inspire you to launch your own campaign against youth entitlement. As Kay says, “Here’s to seeing what can happen when we tell our kids, ‘I believe in you, and I’m going to prove it by putting you to work.’”
We have all heard about it, a generation of youth that seems to feel they are more special, more important, more everything than anyone else. Coming on the heels of the McCullough "You're Not Special" graduation speech, this book is very timely. Ms. Wyma recognizes that her children don't have even simple life skills and that they have developed a sense of entitlement and sets out to fix this through a year long experiment. Each month the family tackles a different task, everyone learning something new about themselves.
Over this year, Wyma sets out to teach her children how to make their own beds and keep their own rooms clean, how to plan, shop for and prepare a family meal, weed a lawn, search for a job, clean a bathroom, wash clothes, home repairs, plan a party, work together, run errands, serve others and finally manners. I commend Wyma on keeping it real. Some tasks worked really well, others didn't and she shares it all. Her successes, failures, and how simple family dynamics and throw even the best laid plans out of whack.
All in all I found this to be a great read, and even gleaned some ideas for my own family from it. I recognized in myself a similar propensity to hover and enable as Wyma did with her children. I realized that my own struggles to instill values, a sense of pride in a job well done, and the concept that my children are a contributing part of the family not the family service project are not unique to my family, my community or even my income bracket. And there is my only problem with this book.
I come from an "upper lower class" family and am currently "lower middle class". This means that my family wasn't dirt poor growing up, but we certainly didn't have a maid as Wyma did. My sister and I had to learn to cook at a young age or we didn't eat because my single mother was working and not there to cook for us. And since she was working the cleaning, dishes and yard work fell to us to do. That made it hard to relate to a woman who had never cooked before marriage, and had no idea how to do basic cleaning until then either.
As for now, well, let's just say that we don't EVER see a Porshe on either side of us on our journey to school in the mornings as Wyma commented that she did. We cut our own grass and our front yard isn't nearly big enough to put a volleyball net.
Still, don't let these little things deter you from reading this book. While my children can run a dishwasher, lawnmower, washer and dryer, vacuum cleaner and know how to use a toilet brush, we still struggle with youth entitlement. I bet your family does too. And the biggest lesson in the book, a lot of the time it isn't entirely our children's fault. Sometimes (gasp) it is our fault for not expecting our children to do more. And as Wyma points out, this is truly the most destructive part.
By not giving our children opportunities to shine on their own, but not showing we trust and believe they can do it, we rob them of the growth opportunities. We rob them of the sense of accomplishment that comes for completing a task once thought impossible. We teach them that they can't do it. That is truly the saddest part. Wyma illustrates this perfectly in chapter 7 when one of her sons is prevented from performing a task due to circumstances. (I'll let you read about it!) Wyma watched her son wither back into himself and revert back to the "I can't do it" mentality.
If you have kids, read this book. Wyma's humor keeps it from being dry, and she isn't a finger pointer (except at herself). It is practical, real and honest. I love that at the end of each chapter she shares not only what her children learned that month, but also what she learned too. After all, it is a group effort and more often than not if we want to change the behavior of our children, we first have to change ourselves.
Check out chapter one here
Visit Wyma's blog here
Purchase on Amazon here
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