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Parents Fed Up With Teen Daughter’s ‘Inconvenient’ Rule That Nobody Can Touch Her Laundry

young woman carrying laundry in hallway
Hill Street Studios/Getty Images

The transition from child to adult is immediate for some as they move out of their parents home after reaching the age of majority with no plans to return.

But for children who seek further education, the independence of adulthood is often partial. During the academic year, they may live physically and financially independent of their parents. Then during school breaks, they may return to living under their parents’ roof and rules.

A young woman clashing with her parents over a house rule she wants to impose inspired her mother to turn to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.

RegionAlarming1445 asked:

“AITA for ignoring our daughter’s inconvenient boundary?”

The original poster (OP) explained:

“My wife (39-female) and I (36-female) have a daughter (19-female)—technically my stepdaughter, but I’ve raised her since she was 5—from a previous relationship of my wife’s. Her father is not in the picture.”

“My wife and I are both women—2 mums.”

“Our oldest daughter has come back home after her first year at uni. She’s picked up a new and problematic issue—since she was last home for any extended period of time—surrounding laundry.”

“Basically, she has established a ‘boundary’ where nobody is to touch her clothes. Her reasoning is that she’s concerned something will go missing/get damaged, thinks it’s just gross for us to go through her stuff, and is an adult who deserves privacy.”

“All fine, we have 3 young children in our home (9-female, 9-female, and 2-male) so plenty of washing to keep us entertained. In our defence, we’re also under a lot of stress ourselves currently, as 2-male is not our bio son, but sister-in-law’s child who we have temporary custody of (no fault of hers).”

“The issue is that 19-female has a habit of monopolising washing facilities to the extent where we’re effectively prevented from being able to get any other laundry done. This is what’s really bothering us.”

“The kids can go through SO MUCH STUFF! It’s a really stressful time for everyone, so we’re all adjusting and really don’t need this. I’d forgotten how much laundry toddlers go through!!”

“For example, last weekend she put a wash in before work and hung it out on the line at around 11am. She then left for work (12pm-10pm).”

“Her wash was dry within an hour and obviously she wasn’t going to be back all day. We had a few days worth of washing to get through, so my wife (her mum) took everything off the line and folded it.”

“We got through 5 other loads that day.”

“She was NOT happy when she got home, and said that she’d been very clear that we weren’t to touch her things.”

“When we explained the situation above, she said it was ‘first come, first served’ (not something we’ve ever said) and that since the next day was due to be nice also, we should’ve just waited to get through it the next day.”

“That really pissed us off.”

“We’ve offered her a weekly laundry day, where we’ll avoid using the machines so she can have freedom to do as she pleases on that day, but she said once a week won’t cut it.”

“Fair enough, but there are 5 other people in the house that need clean clothes, bedding, towels, etc… We can’t have the laundry off limits to all of us all day while she’s gone.”

“I mean, she usually does about 3 loads a week, but between bedding/darks/whites, I don’t think that’s crazy.”

“Other than that, all we can really suggest is that she keeps on top of her washing. If she’s at home we’ll ask her to clear her clothes from the machine/dryer/washing line as needed, but like any 19-year-old, she has a social life/work commitments and is often busy.”

“I totally appreciate that she’s somewhat flexing her muscles as a new adult on this, and part of what we’re trying to reiterate is that we’re not treating her like a child by wanting her to be more amenable with this.”

“If my wife was regularly leaving loads in the machine and snapping at me for moving them, I’d have a problem with that too. It’s not a parent/child thing, way more of an adult/adult situation.”

“She’s upset because she says we’re not respecting her boundaries, whereas we’ve pointed out that while ‘don’t move my clothes’ is objectively reasonable, it’s not fair for her to do so at the inconvenience of everyone else in our home.”

“Essentially the last conversation we had ended up with her in tears because we said as long as situations like Saturday keep occurring, we’ll continue to move her stuff. Just FYI, we do fold her clothes carefully, and leave them in a basket in a communal living area so they’re kept together, in good condition, and we’re not going in and out of her room.”

“We normally have a good relationship with her, so this is all a bit unusual. We’ve asked her if everything else is okay, and she says yes and seems otherwise normal in and of herself, and she’s normally reasonable.”

“So, are we being unreasonable?”

The OP added:

“I cannot stress enough how many conversations we have had about this.”

“Has something happened? Is everything else okay? Is there something she’s worried about? Etc…”

“By no means is this a knee jerk reaction. It’s been almost a month of this and we’re sick of being lectured for using our own washing/drying facilities!”

“I have explained that this is not a boundary, rather a rule she’s asking us to follow (regarding our own washer!), but she’s not getting it.”

The OP summed up their situation.

“We think we may be the a**holes because she’s generally reasonable, and asking to be allowed to do your laundry in your own time doesn’t seem outrageous.”

“We’re also aware she’s dealing with living with three much younger kids and is likely missing her privacy/independence.”

“Obviously we’re interfering with her wishes, and we’re not sure if we’re crossing a line/defaulting to the way we parent the younger kids.”

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors decided the OP was not the a**hole (NTA) with one commenter slumming up the general consensus and the most suggested remedy.

“NTA. This is insane, you can respect her boundaries, but she needs to work within YOUR rules/schedule, etc…”

“She can’t just dictate something then make it impossible to go about your own business. It’s ludicrous.”

“The good thing is, you have the upper hand here. If she doesn’t want her stuff touched, then she’d better get it off the line before you need to use it.”

“1 – Ask for her input on timing, but being clear there are 6 people living in the house and she gets the equivalent of 1/6th of the available time to do her wash.”

“2 – If she fights it, assign her a time.”

“3 – Respect that time, and don’t do any of your wash during her scheduled time (so she can’t come back at you that ‘your stuff was in the wash’).”

“4 – Go about your business. If her stuff is in the wash/on the line and she’s not around to move it, you move it.”


“This teenager-making-rules bullsh*t has to stop. You are the parents, and it’s your house.” ~ Canadian_01

Another common suggestion was “shape up or ship out.”

“She also seems to have forgotten that doing laundry at home is a privilege, not a right, and she doesn’t pay for that privilege.”

“If she really has a problem with her parents’ laundry rules, she is welcome to go to a laundromat. NTA.” ~ randomcharacheters

The OP offered an early update with their solution to the issue.

“So the consensus is pretty much that we’re right and our daughter is being massively unreasonable. And that we’re being pushovers for not being tougher on her from the off.”

“We‘ve shown her the comments, and unfortunately she’s still insisting that we’re the unreasonable ones.”

“We’d never considered the local laundromat as an option for her. We have banned her from using our washing machine for the next fortnight given she’s still unwilling to adjust/accommodate the 5 other people who live here.”

“She‘s absolutely FURIOUS, but my wife has ordered a lock for the washroom door to enforce the 2 week rule. Hopefully a couple of weeks hauling her stuff to and from will help her see the light. Thanks very much all!!”

The next day, the OP provided a new update and solution.

“A slightly calmer update this morning. Our daughter came to talk to us, and apologised for the situation.”

“She said she had found the transition back home hard (I get that) and had maybe become a bit territorial over her stuff while at uni. All okay. She then asked if she could please have a laundry day, and be allowed to use the machine.”

“Her place of work is closed Mondays, so that’s now ‘her’ day, and we’ve said that she can use the machine on other days, but if by 7am Tuesday there’s anything in the way (or any issues on any other days) we’ll be moving her stuff.”

“A genuine sorry goes a long way with us, and while the advice has been to hold firm, we don’t really want an issue if the situation can be resolved calmly. We’ve also made it clear that if her things DO have to be moved on any day (other than Monday which is totally hers) and we get ANY grief about it, we’ll go back to a 2 week ban and there’s no going back.”

“Maybe a less satisfying update than the last one, but we’re happy we can resolve the problem calmly. She did mention she’d read through some of these comments last night, so thank you to everyone that weighed in.”

Sounds like alls well that ends well on the laundry front for now.

Hopefully this reasonable accommodation is treated reasonably.

Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka Haudenosaunee and Metís Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. A member of the Indigenous Journalists Association, she considers herself another proud Maineiac.