What to Do?

by Dr. Lorin Bradbury

Question: How do I convince my daughter to change her house keeping habits? Lovely daughter, embracing, effusive, engaging, personable, communicative in all aspects with the exception of an orderly, organized, clean house. Daughter 40, married, 4 children, boy 10, girl 8, boy 5, girl 3. Good kids but have no concept of personal hygiene including brushing hair and cleaning teeth. They chew food with their mouth open and have no concept of table manners. Clothes are all over the floor, toys on the ground and never put away, dishes always in the sink, toilets and tubs filthy. It’s a nightmare. On the plus side she is very religious and after reading your rules on order, I am excited to pass these along to her. Any advice on how to change this?

(The family constellation and ages of the people in the question above were changed so as to not be identifiable.)

Answer: Interesting question! Since you are the parent and not the husband, I’m not quite sure where to begin. I guess I would be interested in what the husband thinks about his wife’s housekeeping and care of their children. Another question I would have is whether your daughter is working outside the home. (Homemaking is a full-time job.) If she is, then both bear responsibility for the housekeeping. Regardless, both bear responsibility for the children good hygiene and manners.

In any situation, have you earned the right to speak into your daughter’s life? Having a good relationship with your daughter and son-in-law would be the first place to start before addressing these concerns. If you haven’t built the appropriate relationships with them, you really have not authority to speak into their lives. It also raises another issue of boundaries. When you gave your daughter away in marriage, you gave her away to start another family and your role as parent is over, unless she, or they ask for advice.

There may be others out there who could add to or improve on my advice. I will not be offended. I will once again provide my God is a God of Order suggestions. Maybe you could make those available during an appropriate conversation. If I were giving this list to her or them, I usually suggest adding only one new order per week, rather than all twelve at once. Trying to implement all twelve at once will undoubtedly end in frustration and a return to the status quo.

#1: Always wash your dishes before going to bed.

#2: Clean up spills immediately.

#3: Make your bed upon rising.

#4: Put toys away after playing.

#5: Go to Bed at a reasonable hour.

#6: Keep your bathroom clean (Deuteronomy 23:13-14).

#7: Never leave piles of dirt on the floor—finish the job—put it in the garbage.

#8: Always arrive at church on time.

#9: “Cleanliness is next to godliness.” Dress holy; dress clean. As much as possible, keep your person clean.

#10: Maintain Personal Devotions.

#11: Eat at least one meal together each day (except when fasting).

#12: Pray with your children before they go to bed each night.

Lorin L. Bradbury, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in private practice in Bethel. For appointments, he can be reached at 543-3266. If you have questions that you would like Dr. Bradbury to answer in the Delta Discovery, please send them to The Delta Discovery, P.O. Box 1028, Bethel, AK 99559, or e-mail them to [email protected]

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