Some people place a tremendous value on having a clean home, from the perfectly curated living room to the sparkling bathroom to the couldn’t-be-more-organized-than-that closet.
But expressing such high expectations can hinder relationships if they aren’t shared, cringed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor ApprehensiveDot6229 was frustrated with her teen daughter’s neglect of her closet and repeatedly demanded that she properly organize that space.
When her daughter kept putting it off, the Original Poster (OP) gave her daughter an ultimatum that went shockingly wrong.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for ‘making’ my 17-year-old daughter miss her therapy appointment to clean her closet?”
The OP was disgusted by the state of her daughter’s closet.
“My daughter’s (17 Female) closet is an absolute pigsty. You can’t even see the floor; it’s nearly knee-deep in stuff.”
“I have been after her for WEEKS to clean it up and she keeps saying, ‘I’ll do it later.'”
“I’ve offered to help many times, but she keeps putting it off and doesn’t want me ‘going through her stuff.'”
The OP gave her daughter an ultimatum to get it done.
“I had ENOUGH and told her she cannot go out with friends or her boyfriend until her closet is clean.”
“Unfortunately, that week she had work and prior commitments at school, so she only had one free afternoon when she was also going to see her therapist (she is in therapy for depression and anxiety).”
“She also was going to go with her boyfriend’s family on a day trip that following weekend.”
“I figured missing that would finally get through to her to get it done after several weeks of constantly putting it off.”
The OP’s daughter did something that surprised her.
“Instead, she canceled her therapy appointment (as it was her only free afternoon), because she didn’t want to miss going with her boyfriend this weekend.”
“Her therapist said I was wrong to do this because she needs her therapy and this was a ‘dumb hill to die on.'”
“I told her she’s been putting this off for weeks and won’t listen and I don’t know how else to get through to her. I refuse to live like a slob!”
The OP was sure that she’d done the right thing.
“I also didn’t tell her, ‘Cancel therapy to clean your closet.’ I said, ‘If you want to go out with your boyfriend or anyone this week, your closet needs to be clean before then.'”
“I told her how she budgets her time is up to her and just get it done. She chose to cancel the appointment to get it done.”
“How she budgeted her time was on her. She did tell me that’s what she chose to do (I thought it would be forgoing the boyfriend but I was wrong; it didn’t occur to me she’d cancel this), so I was aware that she canceled when she did.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some thought the OP needed to be more considerate of her daughter’s mental health.
“YTA. Have you considered the depression and anxiety is getting in her way of cleaning it? Have you offered a strategy to work together, or small steps to the big goal of full cleaning?” – whateverworks1470
“I’m dealing with my dad dying and it’s a very complicated relationship, and a few other issues. I’m lucky if showering and cleaning myself aren’t overwhelming activities. It had literally been months since I’d cleaned anything in my apartment other than occasionally taking out the trash and doing a bit of laundry.”
“I finally made a psychiatrist appointment, after the urging of a few family members. About two weeks after I started my meds, I started cleaning my bathroom, which doesn’t sound like much, but again, it was after months of not being able to do it.”
“And my sister frequently offers to help, but I’m embarrassed at how bad I’ve let it get. She came over on Wednesday and helped with the bathroom and the kitchen.”
“She has a key to my apartment, but she’s never used it. She came while I was at work on Friday, mopped the kitchen and bathroom, and did a few other things.”
“And my mom took me to the laundromat (she has a bigger vehicle than I do) so I could wash all the stuff I hadn’t been. I’d been cherry-picking what I wear most on previous excursions.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if your daughter’s mental health is keeping her from doing this. YTA.” – is_a_ghost13
“As someone with anxiety, depression, and ADHD I constantly get stuck in the depression-anxiety-ADHD cycle of mess.”
“A mess happens, I get anxious about the mess, but then I get too depressed to get the energy to clean it, and then when I do get the energy, I get distracted by everything. It’s such a vicious cycle. It’s hard to get out of.” – kaitydid0330
“At least in my case of ADHD, out of sight is often mostly out of mind. I forget to clean something, see it again, then get anxious because I’m usually already doing something else, and if I stop that to fix this, I’ll more than likely leave the other thing half done and forgotten instead.”
“Indecision leads to stress, and sometimes nothing gets done! Then things start piling up, and I get depressed when confronted by too many things to do, and lose all will to do any of them.”
“My trick to try to get out of the loop is when I get overwhelmed by things to do, break it all down, and do at least one easy thing. The kitchen’s a mess, the sink is full of dishes, some of which need some serious scrubbing.”
“I don’t need to do it all right now. Just wash a spoon or a mug. Or put away any spices or pantry items. Take out the trash.”
“Once I get out of that indecision, I end up being able to do more than I thought. But I keep reminding myself that I don’t need to get it all done right now. It mostly works.”
“The OP’s daughter needs a system that works for her, and canceling therapy is NOT it. YTA.” – Shibaspots
“YTA. The main issue here is that mom clearly set her up to fail. ‘Unfortunately, that week she only had one (not) free afternoon,’ so then why are you asking her to do it that week?”
“You know she has no time all week to clean, and you’re telling her she MUST clean before the weekend. Why set your kid up to fail like that?”
“Your kid shouldn’t be able to cancel their own therapy, you should be ensuring they go to those appointments.”
“And if you meant, ‘You can’t go on the day trip this weekend because your closet isn’t clean,’ then say that. Don’t force your kid into a position where they have to neglect their health to try and bend over backward to please you.” – AMadManWithAPlan
“Have you tried other methods? Top of the list, and I’m asking it as nicely as possible, have you tried not calling your daughter a slob that lives in a pigsty?”
“This is coming from a now almost well-balanced adult who has ADHD and an anxiety disorder and struggled with depression through all her teenage and most of her early adult years, so please trust me on this. As a teenager, keeping anything remotely tidy, doing the simplest house chores, and most of all cleaning up the mess AFTER it became too much were, to me, crushingly overwhelming. I just couldn’t get to it and I didn’t know why.”
“Now 15 years later, I do know: ADHD comes with executive dysfunction, depression makes it ten times worse especially when it’s already a miracle you made it out of bed, and anxiety is the cherry on top by giving you panic attacks when you think of the amount of work you have to do to tidy up your mess.”
“But 16-year-old me didn’t know I had ADHD, and because my dad repeated that my not managing to do those simple tasks was only the product of laziness and selfishness, I felt immense guilt for years for not being able to just get my a** off the couch and do it. My anxiety spiked through the roof every time I had to do something because if I didn’t, it meant I was worthless, again.”
“Now that I’m 30, having had my load of experiences of messy houses, from myself in stressful periods to lazy roommates to depressed friends I helped clean up to nephews and nieces and their tornados of toys, I understand it can be frustrating as a parent when your teenager doesn’t clean up their room.”
“But please understand that for a teenager with depression, not only it’s literally, physically almost impossible to do it, but badmouthing and punishments will absolutely, 100% make her depression and anxiety worse.”
“Soft YTA because I believe that you can understand it and try to find a better way.” – VSamo
Others agreed and were certain this was leading to a no-contact relationship.
“Gee, I wonder why your daughter, who is so overloaded with school and work commitments that she only has one free afternoon, doesn’t have time to clean her closet.”
“Give her a freaking break. You sound so overbearing.”
“I’m guessing that’s why her therapist called you. It IS a weird hill to die on.”
“I wouldn’t be surprised if she purposely overloads her schedule to minimize the time she has to be at home. YTA.” – usernametaken615
“This is the real answer. The daughter did quick math and chose the option that gives her more time away from home.”
“Therapy is two hours away from home. The boyfriend means a day or two away from home.”
“YTA.” – Ok_Usual1517
“I wouldn’t be surprised if your daughter moves out as soon as she turns 18, to live with her friends or her boyfriend.”
“I would, if my parent was telling me when I could and couldn’t leave the house, like I was some sort of prisoner or a small child.” – PricklyPossum21
“As someone with depression, she wants to spend time with her boyfriend because she knows it’ll give her joy! Shocking that someone would rather do something fun and gives instant gratification over something that takes time to help.”
“She’s still a kid, and her closet could have waited until later. It’s a closet, not her whole bedroom.” – Nightmare_Springbear
“You haven’t proven empathetic or trustworthy. I don’t blame her. Work on being there for her instead of putting her down. Your attitude contributes to stress.”
“As a mother, your child as a person comes before your sense of entitlement about her closet for goodness sake. If you want her to choose to have any relationship with you when she gets older and has resources to choose whether or not to interact with you, you need to be better.” – HappyBi-cycle
The subReddit could understand that the OP was frustrated and wanted a top-to-bottom clean house, but taking her frustration out on her daughter was not a good look. Even worse was the fact that the OP’s daughter canceled her necessary therapy session as a way to meet her mother’s demands.
If she wanted to maintain a positive relationship with her daughter after she turned 18, and wanted to encourage her daughter to take care of her mental health, this mom might need to work out a system in her home that worked for both of these women going forward.