A while ago, I wrote about a personal embarrassment in child rearing. My son--to my daughter-in-laws dismay--has grown up to be a laundry slob. Not only doesn't he do his own laundry, he doesn't even manage to hit the laundry basket when he casts off his worn-all-day socks, tee shirts and other close-to-the-body apparel. She has called him on it--he being the author of a book that deals with managing behavior techniques--and, using his managerial terminology, challenged him to do better. When she and I had a phone chat about his unacceptable laundry behavior, I had to admit to my son's wife that I was to blame--I had never come down hard on laundry or clean-up-your-room chores. There seemed more important issues to deal with.
Now, it seems. I have met my polar opposite. Writing to Carolyn Hax, the mother of an otherwise exemplary 20-year old complained bitterly about her son's dirty sock habit--he left them anywhere and everywhere in the house and refused to do his share of an assortment of housekeeping chores. She wanted to know if she should evict him [he was home from college for the summer] over the issue.
OMG. I read her tale of woe and felt even guiltier for my indulgent ways. What legacy had i left my daughter-in-law? I had not cracked down; had not evicted anyone and here my daughter-in-law was reaping my poor parenting.
Carolyn Hax, the arbiter of what's best and worst in an approach to a problem, came down somewhere between the two extremes--tho closer to the letter writer's viewpoint. She suggested explaining to her son why the son's habit was so irritating (i.e., his failure to do his chores and his leaving of a mess meant other family members had to do more work and that wasn't fair) and to give him an ultimatum: turn things around or out you go.
When did things come to this? Fortunately, my DIL, annoyed tho she is about her husband's dirty laundry behavior, still sees the light side of it: an annoyance rather than a family crisis. She has not piled all his dirty laundry on the couch and told him to sleep there.