It appears that many pre-teens and teens have a tendency to overlook messes and are often not motivated enough to clean them up.
Alice Velasquez, a resident of Bargersville, Indiana, reached her breaking point after repeatedly asking her daughter Tahlia to tidy her room, only to discover that the clutter persisted day after day.
Tahlia’s typical teenage room was filled with clothes and various belongings.
The mother reached a stalemate in her efforts to motivate her daughter to clean up after herself, and realized that she couldn’t continue doing it for her. In a drastic move, Valásquez opted for the “nuclear option” and decided to clean her daughter’s room one last time.
With a box of garbage bags in hand, the mother entered the messy room and quickly began picking up everything on the floor, indiscriminately tossing items into the bags without sorting them.
Upon re-entering her bedroom, the teenager discovered that it had been “trashed” and that all of her belongings were piled up in the corner inside garbage bags.
Valasquez’s plan was not only cunning in one aspect. Tahlia wasn’t allowed to merely unpack her belongings.
Since she had previously treated them with disregard, her mother wanted her to comprehend their worth. Consequently, Tahlia was required to regain possession of each garbage bag, unaware of its contents.
Her mother levied a fee of $25 for each bag.
The twist was that she could potentially repurchase a bag of items that she neither required nor desired.
Valásquez explained in her Facebook post:
“What do you do when you are DONE telling your teenage daughters to stop letting their room look like homeless people live there? You put everything (YES EVERYTHING) into plastic bags and you sell it back to them for $25 a bag (and they have to earn the money doing chores). The best part? The bags were collected as they were found in the room – random! So their $25 could buy a bag of dirty clothes, it could buy a bag of trash or it could buy their soccer gear.”
After Valasquez shared the details of the punishment on Facebook along with accompanying pictures, it quickly went viral, although opinions on the matter were divided. Some parents praised her for attempting to impart the significance of material possessions to her daughter. However, others considered it a form of mistreatment towards a child and even threatened to contact Child Protective Services. (Note: This does not justify squandering CPS resources.)
Following the viral Facebook post, Valásquez made an appearance on The Doctors show, during which she recounted some of the responses she had received.
“It was crazy… There were some who were telling me how horrible I was, that I was psychologically damaging my kids.”
According to Stacy Kaiser, the psychotherapist on the show, the punishment was far from abusive and did not cause any psychological harm. In fact, she referred to it as “a creative way to take control.”
The mother refused to tolerate the backlash and responded with a harsh Facebook post directed at those who had overreacted:
“FIRST OF ALL, MY PARENTING CHOICES ARE JUST THAT, MINE!! None of you nasty people know me or my children or a single thing about our situation. My children are all loved, treasured, very well cared for, social, active in band, choir, church youth group, soccer, track, swimming, scouts, study buddies, amongst many other family activities — so before you JUDGE ME, come spend a day with children who have been raised with respect, who have chores and responsibilities and who have parents that take an ACTIVE role in parenting and then form your own INFORMED OPINION!”
In addition to Tahlia reclaiming her possessions, her siblings also contributed. Valásquez mentioned in the comments:
“…her super siblings all volunteered for extra chores to help her earn faster too. SO not only was is a lesson for my oldest daughter, but a great a great family building exercise as well.”