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My 14 year old son will ONLY clean up his own mess.

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My 14 year old son will ONLY clean up his own mess.


My 14 year old son will ONLY clean up his own mess.

I'm not going to lie.  Our house is a mess. My husband and I work long hours and have little time to do common chores.  On top of the I have recently had shoulder surgery and cannot use my right, dominant arm.  My 14 year old son has been asked to pitch in and help more around  the house.  In fact, for months we have tried communicate with both our sons (the other is 9) how important it is to help keep the house cleaned up.  Our older son is indignant about doing any chores and argues that if he didn't make the mess then he shouldn't have to clean it up.  One the one hand we understand his argument, but on the other we want for him to learn the deeper value of contributing to the welfare of our home and family.  We have said over, and over, and over that we need his (and his brother's) help because we can't do it by ourselves.  He is offended and indigent that we ask him to clean up any "mess" he hasn't made himself.  On top of that he loudly complains about how messy the house is and how much he hates living in a messy house. But he refuses to help! Please help me find a constructive way to communicate the value of contributing to the household?


Re: My 14 year old son will ONLY clean up his own mess.

Hi @CCS78 and welcome to the forums.


First up, sorry to hear that you are having a hard time at the moment with the surgery – that must have really thrown a spanner in the works!


I think we can all relate to your feelings that are coming through in your post about the messy house!  Like you, I have also had to work out how to best to motivate a son to take a more active role in the household!!

From reading your post it seems like you have had conversations about this with your sons and these haven’t gone as well as you hoped.


Whilst I don’t have any real ‘answers’ for you, I thought I could reply with a few of the things that have had some small measure of success for me – setting up a family roster, and linking these to small ‘rewards’.


One thing that I found really useful was to sit down with my son and talk about a roster of tasks – all the things that needed to be done and who would be taking responsibility for them (including parents!).  We let him start off small and have input into the things that he would be responsible for (it started with sweeping the courtyard  - a job he really hated but did agree to grudgingly).


Because he knew that this was his responsibility we managed to get through the first couple of weeks by reminding him about the roster until it became second nature.  He could ‘tick off’ his chores on the roster and his input was finished!


We also set up small rewards tied to the completion of the task – in our home we don’t really do an allowance/pocket money so our rewards are all around dinner menu planning – anyone who has ticked off all their jobs gets to choose one dinner for the family (within limits!!) for the next week.


We are still going through this process at the moment and the next step for us is to start adding additional chores to our son’s roster but so far the baby-steps we have taken have had a seriously positive impact on the household!


Anyway, thanks for posting here and would love to hear about how others on the forums have dealt with this!