Friday, August 9, 2013

Cleaning House: A Mom's 12-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home Of Youth Entitlement - Book Review


 It has been many years since I read a modern book on parenting which resounded so completely with what I believe both in principle and from experience. Kay Wills Wyma's book, Cleaning House: A Mom's Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement, is so much more than just getting your kids to cooperate in keeping your home clean.

As Kay points out, the family is meant to function as a team. When children are left on the bench, they begin to feel useless and look for life meaning in meaningless pursuits. Throughout the book, Kay emphasizes the importance of meaningful work. She is absolutely right when she says, "This Experiment [in equipping our children rather than enabling them] is more than a game or a parenting strategy for empowerment; it is critical to my children's emotional well-being."[1] As a result of her 12-month Experiment, Kay was able to transform her children's "self-absorption into earned self-confidence and concern for others."[2]

The book is divided into twelve chapters, one for each month of The Experiment. Each covers one task the children were to master within that month. These include beds and clutter, cooking and kitchen clean up, landscaping, searching for employment, bathroom cleaning and other dirty household jobs, laundry, repair and maintenance, hospitality, working on a project together, running errands, volunteer service, and practicing manners.

Kay details how she went about the projects with each child, noting his or her unique personality and strategies for dealing with them individually to help them succeed. At the end of each chapter, she gives concluding notes both on what the children learned and what she learned that month. And, they all learned so much.

Needless to say, it was not an easy Experiment. Although Kay never hides the fact her children many times resisted or balked at some tasks, there was no yelling or horn locking. She simply made their cooperation a matter of fact. The grace, wit, and love with which she handled each situation is a shining example to other parents of how to get past those seeming roadblocks, especially with teenagers.

There is so much more to learn from Cleaning House than getting your kids to help clean the house. Though you may accomplish that by practicing Kay's insights, she is actually sharing ideas for successfully navigating your children into mature and responsible adulthood. I highly recommend it!

[1] Kay Wills Wyma, Cleaning House: A Mom's Twelve-Month Experiment to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement (Colorado Springs, CO: WaterBrook Press, 2012), 79.
[2]Wyma, Cleaning House, back cover.