Monday, June 18, 2012

Book Review: Cleaning House

When I first saw the book Cleaning House: A Mom's Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement, I was excited to read it!  I loved the premise of the book (youth entitlement) and was very interested to see what someone else had to say about it.  We are very purposeful in our home about teaching our very young children that the world does not revolve around them, that they are needed in order for this family to function, and that they do not get everything they want whenever they want it.  I know that this kind of thinking is counter cultural (practically speaking), so I felt happy knowing that someone else was at least thinking on the subject of entitlement.

The author of this book, Kay Wyma, discovers one day that she is raising her children to think that they are entitled to anything they want, without having to put forth any effort to get it.  She realizes that her children do not know how to do anything around the house for themselves and that they expect it to all be done for them, so she comes up with a plan to enlighten her children in these matters over the course of the next year.  She plans one new skill for each month, ranging from cleaning a bathroom to planning a party and everything in between!

Wyma realizes that all the 'help' she has been giving her children is really setting them up for failure.  On page four she says,

We shower them with accolades, proclaiming how wonderful they are-yet we rarely give them the opportunity to confirm the substance of that praise.  All our efforts send the clear, though unspoken and unintended, message "I'll do it for you because you can't" or "No sense in your trying because I can do it better and faster."

The book is a very enjoyable read, detailing her families adventures learning all these new skills.  I love how Wyma is very real and super practical.

Where I don't necessarily agree with Wyma is in her end-goal.  She states her end goal as raising each child to become "a young adult prepared for life and confident in the person he or she is created to be." (page 154)  She recalls back to when she was a young adult and didn't have a clue how to cook or clean for herself, because her mother did not teach her.  She often sites the lady who took care of her and her house when she was growing up.  Her mother didn't do it, she hired someone to do those 'menial' tasks, so of course Wyma never learned or thought to teach her children those things.  She wants her children to know how to take care of themselves when they leave her house.  That is a fine byproduct, but I don't think it should be the goal.  We need to teach our children to work because God created us to work, because they are part of a family and need to contribute, because they need to learn responsibility, and because ultimately THEY ARE NOT LITTLE GODS who deserve to be served.  These concepts seemed foreign to Wyma.  Some of them she seemed to happen upon during her journey, which I am glad for.

I understand having a hard time thinking the way I mentioned above when it comes to small children, but Wyma has five children ranging up to age 14.  According to her anecdotes, these children were appalled at the idea of cleaning even their own messes, had never so much as seen a washing machine in action, or watched their father pump gas.  I just can't imaging living life with my children and them not learning these things by simply being near me (and obviously the discussion that goes along with being near someone while a task is being done).

If you see the problem of youth entitlement in your own family, I highly encourage you to pick up a copy of this book!  If you have teenage children like Wyma does, these lessons are of utmost importance.  If you have younger children, read it so that you can keep your children from this mentality and so that you will not have the struggle that she did trying to break her older children of bad habits.

To learn more:

I received this book for free from Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group in exchange for this review. 

Happy Reading!

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