Kay Wills Wyma’s book, “Cleaning House” first caught my eye by its subtitle: “A Mom’s 12-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement.” Ahh, yes. Youth entitlement. The idea that children and teenagers believe that their mother or father (and sometimes extended family/teachers/adults) lives to serve them. They have little concept of how food shows up on the table each night, how laundry magically appears in their drawers each week, or, as Wyma stated, that there seems to be an endless supply of toilet paper. Are we doing our children more harm than good by doing everything for them? How important is it for children to learn to do laundry, make their beds, and participate in household chores to lighten the load for everyone?
The book opens with her teenage son telling his mother he is trying to decide which car he would “look best in” at 16; he decides on a porche. This was Wyma’s wake up call. She acknowledged the scary reality that none of her children know how to do a load of laundry, clean a bathroom, and maybe even cut their own waffles. Further, her oldest believes he will be driving a porsche at 16! Making it her mission to destroy the self-serving attitudes of her children, she embarks on a year-long project.
Each month, the family has a new focus. Wyma begins with the basics: cleaning up clutter and each making his or her own bed in the morning. Other monthly tasks include cooking, basic yard work, working outside the home, cleaning, laundry, fixing things, hosting parties, running errands, and likely one of the toughest things for most sibling groups, working together on said tasks.
How in the world does she motivate her children, you ask? Well, first, there is financial reinforcement. But, if they don’t follow through on tasks, there is no money. And, this makes sense doesn’t it? In what real life situation do you make money for not doing your work? Secondly, natural consequences. If child #3 doesn’t do his laundry, then he will be without. There is always the temptation to come in and rescue, and Wyma repeatedly describes how she has patterns to change as well within herself. But, if parents are forever “rescuing” their children, how will they learn to plan ahead and take care of themselves?
Toward the end of the book as the family focused on serving others, I couldn’t help but smile to myself on how the children’s attitudes had started to change.Wyma’s desire for training her children in love and service is commendable; I am grateful for her and women like her who believe that family life is more than serving your children. You can read more about her and her book on her blog.