Often, when parents realize that they need help with some aspect of child rearing, they turn to a book by a well-known expert on the subject. When Kay Wills Wyma recognized that she was in the midst of a crisis with her children, she began a 12-month experiment that resulted in her writing a book. Wyma realized that her five kids represented a microcosm of a national epidemic: entitlement. Because I am, I deserve. In other words, just by the mere fact of my existence, the world owes me. And, in the case of the Wyma home, Mom owes me: clean rooms, clean clothes, favorite foods, transportation, entertainment, and whatever else I need. In return, I will try not to be too surly and will follow the rules as best as I can.
"If you are willing to take this journey with Kay Wyma, she will show you how to move your children from the serve-me to the serve-others-first mindset. As the family moves from learning to clean their own rooms, grocery shopping and cooking to making household repairs and planning a party, you will be encouraged to join in."
Her epiphany came when she thought: "I think I'm raising little socialists"..."the serve-me kind that are numb to the benefits of ingenuity and hard work, the kind that don't just need to be taken care of --- they expect it."
Following her epiphany, Wyma broke out of her own procrastination box and decided that she was not doing her children any favors by letting them continue thinking and behaving according to the false assumption that someone will always be there to anticipate and meet their every need. To do so would be to leave them vulnerable and unprepared for the harsh realities of life outside of Mom and Dad's cocoon. So she began with a family meeting and explained what was going to happen in the coming months. The plan opened to mixed reviews, but the fact that each child got $30 up front helped with compliance. Not completing designated tasks would "cost" the slacker, thus reducing the amount of his or her loot.
CLEANING HOUSE is much more than a theoretical "how-to" that leaves readers to figure out how to apply its principles. Wyma provides a journal of her methods and includes tips from other parents, as well in the form of "We're All in This Together" inserts that focus on the task at hand. It is apparent that the author was blessed with supernatural wisdom and determination that helped her overcome her own natural tendencies to enable and hover. In teaching her children to fend for themselves, she was able to correct her own shortcomings. For example, it's not easy to turn your kitchen over to your children and allow them to prepare a meal for the family. But Wyma did just that, putting aside her own fears for the sake of raising healthy, capable children.
If you are willing to take this journey with Kay Wyma, she will show you how to move your children from the serve-me to the serve-others-first mindset. As the family moves from learning to clean their own rooms, grocery shopping and cooking to making household repairs and planning a party, you will be encouraged to join in. And you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you are not contributing to the "gimme" generation.
Reviewed by Maggie Harding on August 15, 2012