Pigsty — welcome to my teenager’s room

I could have sworn that following my one and only pregnancy I gave birth to a bouncing baby girl. As it turns out, I gave birth to a little piglet. For the first 12 years, Anna pulled the wool right over my eyes. She kept her bedroom spic and span. Not a pencil out of place. Pillows beautifully arranged atop her perfectly fluffed duvet. Slippers neatly placed beside her pretty white bed. Photographs pinned symmetrically on her cork bulletin board. But then 14 happened, and her room morphed into a teenage pigsty.

They say we’re supposed to pick our battles. Over the years, I’ve picked many.  Insisting that my daughter keep her room neat and tidy simply wasn’t one of them. But earlier today, I wondered if it was time to put on the gloves.

A few hours ago, I walked into Anna’s room to ask her a question. Holy. Pigsty. I’d say all of her personal belongings are scattered across the floor, but the truth is I’m not even sure there’s a floor in there at all because that gloriously gleaming hardwood we installed five years ago is completely out of sight. What the heck is up with that? Unable to answer this question myself, I turned to an article in Psychology Today.

Just as I thought, Anna’s teenage pigsty is completely normal.

According to Carl E. Pickhardt Ph. D.,  the teenage room is:

“emblematic of the adolescent age. Usually beginning in early adolescence (years 9 – 13) as a function of personal disorganization brought on by more growth change than the young person can easily manage, this state of internal confusion and external disarray quickly attracts parental attention. So to begin with, parents need to understand that early adolescents are honorably disorganized.”

Alrighty, Dr. Carl. So what you’re telling me is that Anna is a regular teenage girl. That’s awesome. Does that mean I was right when I chose not to fight this battle? I mean, it’s just a room, right? It has a door. She keeps it closed. There aren’t any rodents in there (yet). Does it really matter if she keeps it tidy? Let’s run it through Dr. Laurence D. Steinberg’s checklist for parenting decisions.

My daughter wants to live in a pigsty.

  • Is what my child wants to do dangerous? Nope.
  • Is what my child wants to do unhealthy? Nope.
  • Is what my child wants to do illegal or immoral? Nope.
  • Is what my child wants to do likely to lead to trouble? Nope.
  • If something goes wrong, are the consequences irreparable or difficult to undo? If she suffocates beneath a pile of clothing, yes, but that’s highly unlikely.

Sounds like I’m off the hook, but heck, I don’t wanna be. I want a good reason to remove that farmyard from my family home. Back to Dr. Carl I go.

Dr. Carl’s reasons for fighting the battle of the pigsty

  • “…the messy room can feel like an affront to domestic order.” Maybe, but if the door is closed, I don’t actually find it that affronting.
  • “Parents who let the matter go tend to do so to their cost. They adjust to what they don’t like and then blame the adolescent for their unhappiness.” Call me blessed, but with or without Anna’s messy room, I’m pretty darn happy, so no blame-slinging here.
  • “By insisting on regular room clean up, you let it be known that your child must live on your terms so long as he or she is dependent on your care.” I hear you, Dr. Carl, but really, that’s such a cliche.
  • “Remember, if your child knows you will keep after the small responsibilities, like cleaning up a messy room, he or she also knows you will be keeping after big stuff like obedience to major rules.” BINGO. I’ve found my answer!

Why does Dr. Carl’s last point resonate with me? Well, if I can teach Anna to respect trivial rules like keeping her room tidy, I’ll probably have a better shot at teaching her to respect serious rules, like never accepting drinks from strangers or getting in cars with drunk friends. Ain’t nothing trivial about that.

One last thing. While I was writing this, didn’t Anna just go ahead and tidy her room! Dang it, that girl’s always trying to make a liar out of me!

Viv for today xo

On the subject of teens, here are my thoughts on teenage sex.

Oh, and if you like what you’ve just read, scroll up to the GET MY NEWSLETTER button and subscribe. I’ll deliver all future posts straight to your inbox.

2019-07-15T19:05:28-04:00June 27th, 2017|Categories: RELATIONSHIPS|34 Comments


  1. RM June 27, 2017 at 11:52 pm - Reply

    I can totally relate!!! I have a teen off at college and when he comes home on break, his room drives me crazy it’s so messy!!! I try to pick my battles though and I find a nice glass of wine helps me forget the mess LOL

    • THE WORDY MOM June 28, 2017 at 8:40 am - Reply

      Right. Wine. The solution was right in front of my eyes all along!

  2. Emily @ The Multitasking Mom June 28, 2017 at 11:22 am - Reply

    My kids are not quite there yet, but I have to say, I still enjoyed this post. (visions of things to come)

    • THE WORDY MOM June 28, 2017 at 11:57 am - Reply

      Yep, brace yourself Emily!

  3. Belle June 28, 2017 at 11:26 am - Reply

    I love the way you write. I enjoyed reading it.. Well, of course, I know dealing with that isn’t really an enjoyable experience. I’ll keep these things in mind for when my kids are at that age.

    Belle | One Awesome Momma

    • THE WORDY MOM June 28, 2017 at 11:56 am - Reply

      Thanks for your very kind feedback, Belle!

  4. RED RIDING HOOD June 29, 2017 at 4:06 pm - Reply

    inspirational :)

    • THE WORDY MOM June 29, 2017 at 9:24 pm - Reply

      Thank you!

  5. Rosanna and Winston June 29, 2017 at 4:42 pm - Reply

    Our little one is not there yet, but really great post dear.

    • THE WORDY MOM June 29, 2017 at 9:23 pm - Reply

      Hey, if I can help prepare you, only glad to be of service!

  6. Yanet Ibarra June 29, 2017 at 4:44 pm - Reply

    What an interesting story! Great feedback

    • THE WORDY MOM June 29, 2017 at 9:23 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Yanet!

  7. Sarah June 29, 2017 at 6:52 pm - Reply

    I love this post. My 5 year old and 9 year old daughters share a room and I can’t believe how they keep it sometimes. I would go crazy sleeping in such a messy room!

    • THE WORDY MOM June 29, 2017 at 9:22 pm - Reply

      I know, right? And for Christmas she wanted all of these beautiful home decor items to ‘beautify’ her room. What’s the point, I wonder?!

  8. Amy June 29, 2017 at 6:56 pm - Reply

    My room was definitely a pigsty in my teen years, and now I crave a tidy house. This too shall pass. :-)

    • THE WORDY MOM June 29, 2017 at 9:22 pm - Reply

      We can only hope!

  9. Kristin June 29, 2017 at 7:50 pm - Reply

    What’s interesting is that when I was a child, I also had a super messy room. My parents sometimes asked me to keep it clean. Unfortunately, my messiness followed me into adultnhood and I wonder if I might have been cleaner if they had pushed the issue more growing up.

    • THE WORDY MOM June 29, 2017 at 9:21 pm - Reply

      Hmmm. That could be a whole other post!

  10. R. Alexandria June 29, 2017 at 10:43 pm - Reply

    I’ve always had an issue with organization…most creatives do! She’ll come around one day lol

    • THE WORDY MOM June 30, 2017 at 1:08 pm - Reply

      I hope so. We were talking about it today. Her room is looking lovely – at last. She’s painting pictures to hang on her wall. I’m off to buy her some new hangers in the hopes that her clothes will make it into the closet more easily!

  11. Priyanka June 29, 2017 at 11:31 pm - Reply

    Loved your writing style. I’m sure i was the same way at that age, haha.

    xo, Pri

    • THE WORDY MOM June 30, 2017 at 1:07 pm - Reply

      Weren’t we all?!

  12. Tamara June 30, 2017 at 12:34 am - Reply

    First, I love how much personality shines through your writing! I feel like we just had a conversation- about our messy, messy teens! You gave me the motivation not to give up yet.

    • THE WORDY MOM June 30, 2017 at 1:06 pm - Reply

      Thanks Tamara. I’m so pleased you felt like we were having a chat. My goal is to be as candid as possible and always keep it real. Which is one of the reasons I feel the need to protect the subjects of my posts by using a pen name. All of my dirty laundry is hanging on the line!

  13. swati June 30, 2017 at 10:43 am - Reply

    Hahaha, it’s so interesting to read from the other perspective. As a college student, my parents always get on my case for my messiness.

    • THE WORDY MOM June 30, 2017 at 1:04 pm - Reply

      Perhaps one day you’ll be on the other side yourself. Good luck with that : )

  14. Rupali June 30, 2017 at 1:50 pm - Reply

    Haha! What an interesting article! So glad I read..I have two girls!! Thank god messey is normal!

    • THE WORDY MOM June 30, 2017 at 4:10 pm - Reply

      Very.I don’t believe they make girls (or teenagers) any other way!

  15. Kristal June 30, 2017 at 2:00 pm - Reply

    Well I have an ideas of the future

    • THE WORDY MOM June 30, 2017 at 4:10 pm - Reply

      You’ve been warned!

  16. Pammy July 2, 2017 at 10:52 am - Reply

    Inspiring post! I can relate! Sharing this!

    Pammy – joyfulsource.com

    • THE WORDY MOM July 2, 2017 at 4:06 pm - Reply

      Glad you enjoyed, and thank you for sharing!

  17. Jasmine Hewitt July 13, 2017 at 9:32 am - Reply

    this makes sense…but my 2 year old creates messes…same concept?

    • THE WORDY MOM July 13, 2017 at 9:51 am - Reply

      Awww, I’d definitely go easier on your little one, Jasmine. That said, I think teaching the importance of tidy up is great at any age. A little hand-holding would obviously be required!

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