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3 Reasons Why You Should Let Your Teenager Have A Messy Room


I have 3 teenage girls, and I am super surprised that as a parent, I am at peace with all 3 of them having a messy room.  Does this mean their rooms are always messy? Well, honestly it depends on their personalities. They all 3 eventually get to a point where they can’t stand the mess anymore and give into choosing to pick it up. But that time frame differs for each of my girls, depending on how organized they like to be & how they are wired.  I have been shocked at times to see how long it can take for them to get to the point of picking up their room!

My pastor is the one who is responsible for the peace I have found in just shutting their doors and moving on. I am so glad I was there the Sunday he talked about parenting and gave some practical tips.  I don’t remember much from that sermon, accept the tip that surprised me the most, and that was to allow your teenager to have a messy room.



3 Reasons Why It is OK For Teens To Have a Messy Room:


It Is A Place For Them To Just BE

This was the main reason he gave for letting your teen have a messy room, and the one that really hit home with me.  He said that in this day and age our teenagers are under immense pressure to perform, everywhere they go.  Social media has taken this to the extreme, where teens are constantly feeling the pressure to be ‘on’ & to present the best of themselves to the world. Presenting self authentically in such a public space is something I talk about often with my girls, recognizing it is a hard thing to grasp for adults, much less for a teenager.

I love this tip that my pastor gave, to give teens a space in this world that they can call theirs, where they can totally exhale and be who they are with no pressure to perform. What better place to do this than in their own bedrooms?


There Are Bigger Battles To Win

This is another thing that has surprised me as a parent of teens–how many battles there can be as teens are naturally bent to explore independence & parents are naturally bent to protect their teens.

Battling my girls to get their rooms cleaned was exhausting and I didn’t like how constantly I was focused on it. I felt like a nag and it created a negative atmosphere in our home almost daily. In my opinion, there are bigger battles to put my effort into than the battle of a clean room.


It Is Good Practice In Letting Go Of Control As a Parent

I just finished a teen parenting class at my church, and something that all of us parents in the class could heartily agree on is how hard it is to let go of control when it comes to parenting teens.  This was a class full of parents that have good kids, many who are on the leadership team at church, yet still, friction at home was an issue and by the end of the class, most of us realized it was due to our desire to control our teens.

My oldest knew I was taking this class and after the first class asked me how it went and what I learned.  She laughed at my answer. I said, “I learned that I need way more time -outs than you do.”  So true.

It is a hard adjustment to make—this letting go of control.  When your kids are little, you control so many aspects of their world and it sure feels nice and safe. Once they are teens, it is important to recognize that parenting changes.  I now see parenting as more of a coaching role.  I can coach, but they are at the age where they are going to make their own life decisions and I have little control over that.  My job is to keep them reasonably safe, gently coach them in a graceful way, and be there to love them no matter what decisions they make.  This was a hard pill for me to swallow. I had to recognize that they are on a path to adulthood and to respect who they are becoming and how they are wired, that God has them and their stories and that any sense of control I have really does not exist.  God is in control, not me.



Practical Tips For Letting Your Teen Have A Messy Room:

I had a few fears when it came to letting go of control and allowing my teens to have messy rooms.

Here is how I handled them and the things I told myself:


Am I Teaching Them To Be Irresponsible & Messy?

No.  I raised them doing many chores and most of their life they had a chart system that taught them responsibility.  They know how to set goals and reach them. They are responsible in many other areas of life. I chose to look for these areas and talked myself into the idea that I was not going to ruin my kids by allowing them to have messy rooms.


What About Hygiene?

Food & Dishes

This was truly a concern for me. We allow our kids to have food in their rooms, so this really stressed me out to think of glasses and plates piling up & food attracting bugs! EEK! I decided that if it stressed me out so much, then I can quick grab whatever dishes my girls have in their rooms on a daily basis, and I do this whenever it is time for dishes to be done. It really is no big deal, and took care of one of my biggest fears. If you look closely in one of the above photos, you will see a mason jar of cereal that was eaten while my teen got ready for the day. Instead of being annoyed that she does not eat breakfast at the table, I chose to be impressed that she can multi-task & thankful she is ready for school on time.

Damp Towels

For the most part, our girls hang their towels after use, but I have one girl in particular that lets them pile up on her floor.  This was something that drove me crazy, but now I handle it the same way I do the dishes. When I go to pick up the dishes, I grab any towels I see, too.  No big deal.


There are certain times when I DO MAKE my girls clean their rooms.  It is very few and far between, really only when we have company coming TO STAY with us, or if I want to do a big deep cleaning/spring cleaning. I found that when my girls chose to clean their rooms on their own, they also end up sweeping, vacuuming and dusting, as it is what they did when they were little, so it seems that when they are in the mood to clean it is something they do. Sometimes when I see them cleaning their room I will gently suggest they go ahead and dust, while it is easy to do and since they are cleaning anyway.


My oldest (16-year-old) does her own laundry.  I still do it for my 15-year-old and 13- year- old, for numerous reasons that I won’t get into here…one of them being that I’m still working on that “control” thing.


What About A Made Bed?

This was a hard one for me.  Sometime, somewhere, I read people who make their beds start their day out on a good note and it can affect the rest of their day. This little tidbit created fear in me, “uh-oh, I am starting my girls day’s off in a negative way because I am not making them make their beds!” Ugh. We Mom’s put so much pressure on ourselves!  I decided to just let that thought go. My girls made their beds daily when we had a chore/chart system before they were teens, so they know how to do it, even though they don’t do it daily, I’ve decided that it is good enough to just model it for them by making my own bed, and then…I Let. It. Go.


What About My Servants Heart? Will it spoil them?

One of my favorite ways to show love to my family is through serving them.  I love to surprise my girls with a clean room every once in awhile, especially if I know they are having an especially stressful week.  I don’t do it very often, much less often than I used to, but when I do, my girls delight in it & express their thanks.  I had to understand this about myself, that I  love to serve, and recognize that it is okay for me to do it for them when I have the desire to. I just have to check myself and know that I’m doing it out of love, not out of control.


I know not all parents will agree that this is the way to go–allowing teens to have a messy room. I’ve even had a counselor tell me that anything that a teen can do for themselves, they should be doing, that this prepares them for the “real world.” I had to respectfully disagree with that. There are so many ways to teach responsibility, and a statement like that just created more temptation to control and place too much “parenting perfection’ on me.  I knew if I adopted this mindset, I would end up expecting perfection from my girls. I refuse to parent out of fear and perfection, demanding perfect performance. I would rather err on the side of grace than the side of performance.

It is a process, this learning how to parent teens and do it well.  I don’t like that I feel like I am learning as I’m doing, as there are a lot of mistakes along the way. Grace upon grace in this family is what is needed, especially when life is so messy!

*Note: The photos I used were balanced…to show you some mess yet respect my girls & not expose their mess so publically. I understand they do not represent a truly ‘messy’ room, but I know you understand the mess I would get into by sharing their mess with the world!



{hover on photo to Pin}

What do you think?  Do you have teens? How do you handle their rooms?

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  • Sandy Cantu
    November 20, 2016 at 9:59 pm

    Thank you so much for all the words of wisdom. Dealing with an16 yr old female is hard and reading all the advice given on this blog is so very helpful to me.

    • AmyNewNostalgia
      November 21, 2016 at 9:50 am

      so glad to hear that it was helpful. deep breaths Momma! parenting teens can be so challenging.

  • Rob
    September 3, 2016 at 4:34 am

    Im sorry, but presenting themselves at their best in social media is not God’s plan. Make no mistake, it has never been. Social media is vanity. All battles against sin is a worthy battle to fight, even for the rules of the home and a messy room. I have seen first hand the result of lack of discipline grows into. God says that children are to obey thier parents. Picking your battles with children is like letting just a little bit of sin to be. That little bit of sin will just grow if not checked. Read His Word. Don’t spare the rod. If you love your child, you will discipline your child. God is in control, but that control He has given you is also over your child and you WILL be held accountable for that! We all one day will answer to Him for our actions or lack thereof.

    • Natalia
      February 22, 2017 at 11:22 pm

      That kind of authoritarian parenting is more harmful than good.

  • Carolyn W.
    August 9, 2016 at 1:05 pm

    Kids and teens have to be reminded to appreciate and respect the home, environment, and blessings. They should be taught responsibility and held accountable. Parents shouldn’t bet timid with their children, walking on egg shells; nor have to wait 18 years to get their house back. I grew up with much less than my kids, and we were required to maintain a decent home, and respect family rules. I expect and command the same respect in my home. As an adult, I certainly appreciate my training. Once I married, I knew how to love my family, clean my house, work a full-time job, attend meetings and choir rehearsals across the week, and worship on Sunday. Women have to multi-task.

    • AmyNewNostalgia
      August 12, 2016 at 4:32 pm

      Thanks for weighing in and sharing your experience. You sound like a great mom and wife.

  • Sally
    May 22, 2016 at 8:55 am

    Beautiful God breathed wisdom. Thank-you Amy for sharing.

    • AmyNewNostalgia
      May 23, 2016 at 10:48 am

      You are welcome Sally, thank you for the sweet compliment.

  • Lisa S
    April 20, 2016 at 8:11 am

    We just re decorated my 12 year old daughter’s bedroom, she wanted all her toys removed, doll house, legos etc : ( Anyway, in her new beautiful “teen” room, she leaves piles of clothes on the floor, tags that she has cut out of clothes etc etc it drives me crazy ! I was always politely asking her to please tidy her room before allowing her to use any media devices, however, I noticed that she started to not want me to come into her room anymore at bedtime to say goodnight, that was when I realized the reason she did not want me in there was she did not want me to see the mess and “nag’ her to tidy up. This made me really sad, who cares about clothes on the floor if it means I can come into her room and kiss her goodnight? So, I told her last night that its her room and she can keep it how she pleases, just that the floor needs to be clear once a week so that it can be vacuumed. As a teen my room was a complete and utter disaster zone, but now I keep a meticulous home, so my priority is to keep a strong bond with my daughter and have her feel comfortable in her room and not feel as though I am judging her and her mess!

    So thank you for this article, it allowed me to feel at peace with my new way of thinking!

    • AmyNewNostalgia
      April 20, 2016 at 4:56 pm

      Love your comment so so much! Especially this ” This made me really sad, who cares about clothes on the floor if it means I can come into her room and kiss her goodnight?” <3

  • Heather Amador
    April 6, 2016 at 12:17 am

    Love this and am living it! Thanks for sharing!! I have the same issues that get to me- wet towels and dirty dishes. This post has helped solidify my thoughts about how to manage these messy teens. 🙂

    • AmyNewNostalgia
      April 6, 2016 at 1:53 pm

      I’m so glad it was helpful Heather! I’m also so glad there is someone who relates to towels and dirty dishes:) Thanks for commenting

  • Loretta
    April 5, 2016 at 8:30 pm

    My kids are 10-8 and I believe it is their space..
    They are controlled all day, having to behave and follow all the rules..
    I do laundry ( which they help) I fold it! If they choose to cram it in the draws then they wear wrinkly clothes, if they don’t bring laundry down they don’t wear their favorite clothes!!
    No food allowed and towels left in bathroom.. As well washed once a week!!
    I do lose my mind when every drawer is open but on a whole… I try to let them be… I try!

    • AmyNewNostalgia
      April 6, 2016 at 1:54 pm

      It is not an easy thing to keep sane when every drawer is open! I so get it. You sound like a wonderful mom.

  • REK981
    March 21, 2016 at 10:21 am

    This. YES. My Mom always stressed the importance of safety and making sure there wasn’t any issue with food. Other than that she would just keep our doors closed. If I asked for help with organizing she gave it. I had years where I was very messy and cluttered and years where I was very tidy. Now at 35 and with an almost 12-year-old I am stressing the same points with her. It is paying off in subtle ways. We still struggle with hang up towels but she is starting to organize her table top every couple of days all on her own. We are discussing room decor changes and rearranging furniture and she is very involved. She is getting better and better about rinsing her dirty dishes and putting her dirty clothes in a pile at least if not in the hamper. Baby steps!

  • Roxie
    March 19, 2016 at 10:13 am

    I disagree to some extent. I have 2 sons. Both were messy, but 1 was a real PIG. Don’t mean to be MEAN about it but it was a hazard and it made the whole house smell at times. He did things that go beyond messy room and for the life of me I never figured out why. Two examples come to mind, once when he was about 12 I was putting his clothes away in his dresser for him. I opened the top drawer to put the under wear and socks away and there was a can of Spaghettios he opened and changed his mind about eating. Did he put them in a container and put them in the fridge? No, they were open and laying all over his other clean clothes in his drawer and to top it off they were green when I found them. The other time, I was changing the sheets on his bed. All of a sudden I was being eaten alive by big ants. I could not figure it out. I took the bed apart to the foundation (took the mattress off) and there was cheese. He had decided he did not like cheese any more. Instead of telling me not to add cheese to his sandwich at the age of 15 he was putting the slices of cheese between his mattress and box springs and his head board. At the age of 15, right after we had put in hard wood floors in our home he decided to paint his skate board. No newspaper on the floor nothing…just black spray paint on the floor with the out line of a skate board. I was so upset.
    I tried to give my boys a private space. I did not require a lot of work from them. Spick and span was not HUGE with me, just healthy….no hazards.
    This child is 39 now and still lives like a pig. I went wrong some where. I picked my battles with the boys and this is a big battle I lost with that son.

    • REK981
      March 21, 2016 at 9:29 am

      You didn’t go ‘wrong’ somewhere. Quite possibly a disconnect mentally somewhere. For any person to just up and decide, NOPE, to something and drop it or put it away in such a place that makes zero sense is not a ‘fault’ on his part or yours. But something else entirely. And she is very simply saying that if it were a hazardous issue she would (and clearly DOES) step in – hence picking up towels before they mildew or dishes before they go moldy and attract bugs.

      Please do not beat yourself up about your son. So many tings in life are very gray and NOT black or white, right or wrong, fault or no fault. We are human…Hugs to you.

  • Alesea
    March 19, 2016 at 7:13 am

    I wish all parents would understand this. I hope I’ll remember these lessons if I ever have children on my own.
    Sharing it!

  • Karen
    March 18, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    I like that you’re showing your girls how to serve by example (by picking up their dishes and wet towels), and grace (by not harping on them for those very same things).

    One piece of advice that was super helpful to me was that to realize that when our kids are born, they are 100% dependent on us. Our jobs are to help them be 100% independent by age 18. In those 18 years, it’s a gradual letting go. We’re doing our kids a huge favor by letting them figure things out on their own sometimes, rather than jumping in. As moms, we think we’re ‘guiding’, when actually we’re controlling.

    Peace abounds when we’re not constantly having that power/control struggle with our kids! Again…GRACE!!

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