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Changing the Toilet Paper Roll and Other Life Lessons

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Changing the Toilet Paper Roll and Other Life Lessons

Will Reid, a British father of two teenagers, posted what he says is the first in a series of instructional videos for his kids. The first lesson is teaching them how to change a toilet paper roll. He says in the video that he had tried teaching them this important lesson in person but it did not work, so he went to social media.

Viral Toilet Paper

His kids did not think it was very funny but apparently many parents did as it has had over 3 million views to date and his story has been picked up by many media outlets. I just watched and I laughed out loud. Then I proceeded to go into my 16-year-old daughter’s bathroom, pick up the laundry and the wet towel she left on the floor, throw away the empty shampoo bottle in the shower and then, yes, change the toilet paper roll.

I know there are many parents reading this and nodding their head in solidarity. There are also probably many shaking their heads in disbelief and wondering, “Why does this mom pick up after this kid – a 16-year-old should not be such a slob?”

Messy Teenagers

I agree. But like many teens my daughter is all over the place.

She is up at 6:30 a.m., has a full schedule full of honors classes followed by sports practice, SAT prep and several hours of homework. Should she do her own laundry, make her own lunch and clear the dinner table? Probably, yes, but when? I certainly do not want her staying up any later and her weekends are pretty packed too. Since I work from home and have the time, isn’t it the least I can do? And at 16 years old, if her worst habit is not picking her things up off the floor, I think that is pretty great. Besides, in less than two years, the mess won’t aggravate me because the bathroom will be spotless and unused since she will be in college.

Is Cleaning Up For Your Teens “Over Nurturing”?

But parents constantly cleaning up after their teen’s messes can lead to problems. David J Bredehoft, PhD and co-author of the book, “How Much is Too Much? Raising Likeable, Responsible, Respectful Children – From Toddlers to Teens – In an Age of Overindulgence” worries that this tendency to parents in this generation to “over nurture” is part of a parental pattern. He argues that parents that are doing their child’s laundry may also be overstepping in other areas, such as advocating for their child with teachers for better grades or coaches for more play time. Bredehoft says, “When parents do things for kids that they should be doing for themselves they rob them of vital life lessons. A parent’s job is not to do everything for their child but to teach their child to be independent at the age appropriate level.”

Studies indicate that it is beneficial in the long run for children to have chores and responsibilities around the house. Bredehoft says, “Everyone in a family needs to contribute. Parents need to explain this with their kids and together come up with ways that each will contribute to the family. Arguments can be avoided if children know what is expected of them.”

In addition to improving family life, learning how to complete household tasks will help teens to get along better when they are on their own. Most teens will have roommates at college and many may never have shared space with anyone before. Bredehoft recalls his own experience in a graduate apartment he shared with three other students. Bredehoft says, “Two weeks in, we were all about to kill each other. The place was a mess and each of us felt the others weren’t pulling their weight. We had a big meeting and set up a concrete chore chart of responsibilities and after that we never had any problems.”

My own daughter may be messy, but she does contribute to the family in many other ways such as babysitting for her younger brother whenever I need and helping with his homework (when I don’t understand it). But in the interest of helping my daughter’s future college roommate, today I am going to leave the empty toilet paper roll on and send my daughter a link to Mr. Reid’s instructional video. Maybe she’ll laugh too and then get up and change the roll. If so, I agree with the YouTube poster that asked that instruction video No. 2 be on how to make a bed!

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Randi Mazzella is a freelance writer and mother of three from New Jersey. She is a Contributing Editor for Raising Teens Magazine and writes monthly for the blog Barista Kids.

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