Growing up, I loved spending time in my bedroom because it was the one space in our family home I had complete control over. My sister and I grew up in the country. There were very few children our age close by. To pass the time, I created a game where we pretended our bedrooms were apartments.
When I had children of my own, I wanted them to feel a sense of ownership over their space, too. I also wanted them to have control over their personal spaces and to learn how to keep their rooms neat without incessant nagging and fighting. I’ve heard these horror stories from other parents and clients. They find piles of laundry on their kid’s bedroom floor. They trip on things in the middle of the night, and find dirty dishes in their teenagers’ rooms.
A New Approach: Ownership
My approach instead has been to make their bedrooms their own spaces. I helped them decorate and redecorate their bedrooms every few years to reflect their personal tastes. As they aged, I moved more and more of their personal toys and possessions out of the living areas of our home and into their “mini-apartments.”
Now 16 and 17 years old, my children are in full control of their bedroom apartments and shared bathroom. They order clothing and bathroom supplies when they need them. They clean their apartments (I require it weekly). When they want to make upgrades or repairs, they let us know. I even let them have mini-fridges with drinks and snacks.
This subtle shift in terminology has made a world of difference in the ownership they feel for their bedrooms. For me, it’s meant a lot less nagging. Plus, I’m comforted with the knowledge that they are growing in independence and readiness for the next stage of life and that first real apartment.