Am I a bad parent if I do the majority of the cleaning up after my kids?

— Rather Do It Myself
Dear Rather Do It Myself,

So much of parenting requires risk analysis.

On one hand, we have the future well-being of our children to consider. If we don’t teach them to clean up after themselves, they might grow up to be messy and entitled brats.

On the other hand, we have the current well-being of us, the parents, to take into account. We are living in the age of burnout. Many of us lack the bandwidth — emotional and temporal — to get our children to clean up their Hot Wheels on a regular basis. There’s so much to squeeze into a day (jobs need to be worked, dishes need to be cleaned, stories need to be read, etc). Is it really so wrong to cut the tedious child-led clean-up session out of the daily schedule?

The short answer is, absolutely not. With few exceptions, there’s no single activity that can make or break our children’s characters. Maybe your kids don’t clean up their toys, but they do other chores like feeding the dog or setting the table. There are oh so many ways to instill a sense of responsibility in our children. If you aren’t doing any of them, or if your kid loses it when you make any request, then you have a bigger problem than that pile of toys or whatever it is you are quickly cleaning up.
The tricky part is striking the balance between teaching our kids these lessons and not turning into frazzled lunatics ourselves in the process.
Carla Naumburg, author of the upcoming “How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t With Your Kids,” said parents need to remember that “it is not their job to teach their children everything.”
You can read the rest of the article (and my thoughts) over on