Killing the Virus: Cleaning House

Elizabeth Towns

4.5 Stars

November 26, 2012

I have been pondering the problem with entitlement. It seems like everywhere we turn people are entitled to have what they want. It’s not just a few people – entitlement is like a cancer that is more corrosive than and widespread than the HIV virus and less curable than the common cold. It is prevalent at the very top of the bureaucracy that runs our democratic nation, and at the very grassroots level of the same - in our own homes.

Yes – this virus has infected some of us – and our children. Our BABIES have been sickened by the virus of entitlement, and if we don’t first cure ourselves and then help them, generations are going to be lost to the virus. Does this sound dire? It is.

Kay Wills Wyma writes about it in her book Cleaning House: A Mom's Twelve-Month Experimement to Rid Her Home of Youth Entitlement. Wyma, mothering teens and pre-teens, realized that she had no clue how to do so and turn out responsible non entitled young adults. When one of her boys described the car he would most likely drive when he got one – a luxury car which would apparently came them free of charge and insurance’d for life; she had to make a plan to equip her kids with what they really needed – responsible behavior and a healthy respect for work.

In week one of the experiments, Wyma introduces cleaning up after yourself at night, every night to her children – with a tangible, visible reward system that was relevant to them: cash! Each month started with $30 in each cash jar. Every day clothes were up off the floor and beds made, the person kept all the money that was in the jar. If something was on the floor or the bed was unmade, that person lost the money for that day. At the end of the month, you get to spend what’s in your cash jar. Simple.

Next she added sharing in family meal preparation. Each person got a day to prepare family meals. The parents provided the ingredients with an agreed upon budget. If the child decided to provide carryout for the family, the parents would pitch in $10 for that meal. You have to read the book to find out how this went. I will tell you, it is not as easy to feed a family as people who don’t prepare meals believe!

This book is excellent. I’m not biased because I am a blogger and Wyma first blogged about her experience as a mother, with much of the results ending up in the book! Okay, well maybe a little bit biased by that. But really, the book has a wealth of wit, true knowledge and applicable exercises that may work with your own family. Some of them are working for me, and some of them I’ve tweaked to be relevant to my children, my family, my circumstances.

Wyma is offering a real life opportunity to combat the virus of entitlement in the age groups where it is most effective to do so – and in a result driven and measurable platform. In the end, everybody walks away with an appreciation for co-existing, communication, team work and responsibility. That is the opposite of entitlement.

We are having our bumps and stumbles trying to put into effect some of what I’ve learned through Wyma’s writings – but I believe this is one of the most effective ways to cure my family of the entitlement virus!