I am 21 and my stepbrothers are 18 and 19. Recently, they decided to move in with my parents and me. We were all thrilled, because we have always been close, and got along very well.
I thought it was going to be so much fun. And, it is, except for one problem. They are total slobs.
As soon as they moved in, it seems like the house is constantly dirty. They leave their dishes in the sink, and their stuff all over the house. Their bedrooms are a mess.
Their dad has been after them to clean up, but they put in a minimum amount of effort and then stop working and start playing.
I have made a few remarks to them in a sweet way, without nagging them, but they ignore me too. They act like it’s a big joke.
How should I approach this issue? I really love them, but this is driving me nutty.
Signed, Big Sister
Dear Big Sister,
The first thing you need to do is to try again to talk to them. Tell them that you are thrilled that they have moved in, but that it’s driving you crazy to have all of their clutter around.
This time, be firm, and don’t kid around with them. Tell them that you and the folks have always kept a very neat house, and you’d really like to keep it that way.
Let them know that they are now part of the family, and no longer guests. It is only fair and right that they should help in keeping the place nice.
Let them know that the last thing that you want to do is nag them about doing their share. See if you can get them to agree and promise to do better.
Hopefully, you will see a behavior change. You can expect that there will be “relapses” and that they will forget. Be sure and thank them and praise them when they help, and, yes you can “nag” them for a while when they leave their messes around.
This may do the trick, and you may be reasonably pleased with the result. If, however, they just refuse to change, you have two choices.
At that point you can continue to nag them. Or, you can quietly assist in doing their share. I know that is not fair, but in the long run, you may be happier with the result.
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