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Getting Teens to Pick Clothes Up Off The Floor

By Jodie Lynn


I have been a single dad for around four months. The house is a mess and there's laundry everywhere. I have a 16-year-old son but neither one of us knows much about cleaning. We both have a lot of laundry but I have been stuck with it for some time now. How can I get him to pick clothes up off the floor and help without constantly nagging?


Boys are generally messy. We have four. We sat them down and stated that from now on, they would be responsible for picking up their dirty laundry off the floor and putting it in the hamper to be washed or it wouldn't get done. After a few times of having literally no clean clothes, and being embarrassed to have to wear them dirty, they finally got the message. The only thing is that you have to stand by your words and no matter how much you'd like to wash them, let the clothes stay where they are. - Joanna L. in Los Angeles, CA


I'm not sure, but it sounds like your son lives with you full time. Either way, just like you, he's probably going through a lot of emotional trauma right now and, most likely, in a slightly different way. Kids often feel like that in some way they were partly to blame for a divorce. It could be that he simply overlooks the clothes because he has so much more on his mind. On the other hand, you will regret it if you do not help him become more responsible by dividing up the chores. Sit down and have a talk with him and explain that you are also overwhelmed with daily chores and the routine household upkeep and explain why. This will hopefully lead to a more personal conversation with him about his own feelings. Just be honest with him and tell him you need his help in sharing some of the responsibilities and ask which ones he would be willing to help with. There's no reason he cannot actually do the laundry, once you show him the steps. He can even help cook, clean and more. In fact, his help would create a better life for the two of you and give you more time to spend together doing things that you both enjoy. When you have the discussion, be sure that you do not blame your current messy state on anyone or point fingers at his mom. He will appreciate it in the end. Remember, he may not do things up to your standard in the beginning, but with time he will be able to carry his own weight.

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Our 18-year-old son is supposed to have an internship this summer at the college he is going to be attending in the fall. We think this is great. However, he wants to live in a college apartment and this is where we have a problem. He's never been away and we are apprehensive of the environment he could be introduced to during the “summer” party group. Are we being weird? Any rules that you could suggest?

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© Jodie Lynn
Jodie Lynn is an award-winning internationally syndicated family/health columnist and radio personality. Her syndicated column Parent to Parent has been successful for over 10 years and appears in newspapers, magazines, newsletters and throughout the Internet. She is a regular contributor to several sites including,,,,, and Lynn has written four books and contributed to three others, one of which was on Oprah and has appeared on NBC in a three month parenting segment. Her latest books are "Mom CEO (Chief Everything Officer) - Having, Doing and Surviving It All!" (June 2006) and "Syndication Secrets - What No One Will Tell You!" (March 2006).
Please visit for details on her new radio talk show, Inside Parenting Success.


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