Dear Amy: My son has just started his junior year of college. I never thought he was the neatest person.
My view on this changed when he went away to college and shared a two-bedroom suite with others.
Compared to his suitemates, my son is neat, clean, and considerate of the shared space.
I am appalled by what I have seen: Beds are not made, clothes are strewn everywhere, dirty dishes are left in the sink, plates and cups are left everywhere, the table is not wiped clean, multiple pairs of shoes in the bathroom, and counter space all cluttered with everyone’s personal items, etc.
Is this the way people are living?
Are parents not teaching their children some basic level of cleanliness and how to share space?
I sent my son with cleaning supplies and showed him how to clean a bathroom.
He knows how to clean a kitchen because he has been helping me clean up after meals at home.
In one situation he was the only one that brought cleaning supplies. Cleaning supplies are a necessity!
It’s a shared space – you’re not the only one who uses the bathroom or stores food in the refrigerator or needs to wash dishes in the kitchen sink.
Yes, contracts are drawn up by the suitemates to determine rules and cleaning rotation, but my son is frustrated that he is the only one following through.
Parents, are you checking in with your kids to see if they are pulling their fair share?
Amy, as students are returning back to campus, can you put together an Adulting Checklist on basic guidelines to being a good roommate/suitemate – such as sharing the cleaning responsibilities and sharing space?
– A Concerned Mother
Dear Concerned: Adulting Lesson Number One: Never let your mom see your dorm room.
In my possibly unpopular view, it is the parents who are in need of a checklist. If you want to send an adult out into the world – then raise one!
Today’s college students often enter shared living quarters never having shared a bedroom or bathroom. They’ve never done their own laundry, washed a dish, paid a bill, written a thank you note, or had to clean up after themselves or others.
And no one has asked them to.
The whole idea of preparing an “adulting checklist” is somewhat infantilizing. These lessons – on taking care of oneself and contributing to the care of the group, should start with children at around age four. Picking up toys, helping to set the table, and helping with clean-up and laundry should all be demonstrated in early childhood. Later, earning, saving and spending money should be layered onto these other valuable lessons.
You’ve done a good job. Your son will be a desirable roommate, co-worker and partner.
Other parents – yes – stress the positive aspects of keeping your space clean (show them how), and emphasize the pro-social benefit of contributing to the welfare of the group.
Dear Amy: Could you please advise me if it is OK to use the word “hate” in a sentence – if one uses it in a “polite” tone?
An example would be “I hate it when a lot of things go wrong at the same time.”
It was brought to my attention that hate is a “strong” word.
Is it that much better to say “dislike?”
It is a bad habit I have picked up, and I was just wondering what you think.
Dear Kathy: A long-running admonition during my own childhood was my mother’s warning about not using “four-letter words.”
Unlike other parents’, hers had a twist, however. She said we could swear our heads off if we wanted to – only in the barn – (mostly, we didn’t), but we couldn’t say the word “hate.” Instead, we were instructed to say, “I dislike immensely.”
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This became a standing joke around our dinner table, as we exaggeratedly declared our immense dislikes, sometimes using a fake British accent.
In my opinion, it’s acceptable to use the word “hate” to describe your reaction to vexing situations and broccoli – but not to people.
Dear Amy: Responding to “Already Weary,” the grandmother who feels her daughter is pitting her against other grandparents regarding babysitting requests: Maybe the daughter thinks her mom has plenty on her hands caring for an “adult child with special needs” at home, and doesn’t want to overly burden her?
They need to talk, as you suggest.
Dear M: This grandmother definitely has a full plate. Thank you for your suggestion.
©2022 Amy Dickinson.