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Mom tidies teen's room each morning as a kind act of service, prompting a fascinating debate

Does her reasoning make sense?

messy bed
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Mom makes teen son's bed and picks up his clothes after he goes to school.

Parenting is difficult, not only because raising unique human beings through childhood and beyond is complex on every level, but because it's hard to know if you're doing it right. And the internet definitely doesn't help on that front, as everyone has an opinion on what constitutes good parenting.

Case in point: A mom who makes her teen son's bed and picks up his clothes for him after she drops him off at school every morning.

Shannon Tarkey a mother of five (including triplets), shared a video on Instagram and Facebook showing how she makes her son's bed and picks up his clothes, and people had feelings about it. The text overlay on the video as she's tidying up reads:


"I started doing this every morning for my teenager. Not because he won't do it. Not because I do everything for him. But because teenagers are now growing up in a very strange and complicated world and I want him to feel at peace when he comes home.

woman picking up clothes off a bedroom floor

People disagreed on whether tidying up for a teen was kindness or enabling.

Shannon Tarkey/Instagram

People's reactions to the video were sometimes drastically different, with some believing she was setting him up to be an entitled husband.

For instance, one commenter on Instagram wrote, "Ooooh he gonna make his wife so furious one day expecting a clean house but not helping."

Another added, "Although this is very kind and sweet of you, when he gets married he will think this is also what his wife should do for him. I married a man who thought I was supposed to be just like his mom. It took many years for my husband to learn to serve in the home."

However, others shared that they do similar things for their own kids or that their moms did those things for them and are grateful for the loving-kindness being expressed through such acts of service.

"My baby is 15 and after she leaves for school I clean her room," shared one mom. "I plug up her iPad/Mac etc so they are charged and ready for when she comes home. I make breakfast, lunch, iron outfits, comb hair, and anything else I think she needs from me. She has years as an adult but her time as a child is limited."

Another person added, "My Mother used to do that for me and said the same thing. I tried to do the same. There is plenty of time to be an adult..."

The comments go back and forth between people praising Tarkey for showing her son what kindness and caring for others looks like and people saying she was teaching her son that a woman will always clean up after him.

In the caption of the photo, Tarkey explained in more detail why she does this for her son after dropping him off at school:

"He has his own chores and has been taught his entire life to clean up after himself. But when he's getting himself up early in the mornings and rushing off to school this is something I've come to enjoy doing for him. This way when he gets home he can get his homework done in his room and just relax. There's plenty of other things Austin helps with around the house, and I can only imagine what it's like being a teenager in today's world. It is my job to make my children feel at peace so if it's picking up a few pieces of clothes or making his bed then I am more than happy to do it for him."

In the comments she shared that her son also helps with cooking and gardening, cares for the family animals, vacuums and organizes his room and has developed all kinds of life skills—fishing, hunting, car repair—most kids don't have. She clarified that he does make his own bed some days and on weekends. "But when he's rushed out for school I am not going to harp on him when he gets home when he's incredibly responsible as it is," she wrote. "He has plenty of chores and he's also GRATEFUL I do this for him."

The differing opinions in the comments are fascinating in that they offer an insight into how people view the balance between having expectations for our kids and being an example of caring and kindness. Naturally, people brought their own backgrounds and experiences into their opinions, sometimes without having all the information about this particular home and parenting dynamic, so it's not all about this one mom and her son. But what one person sees as kindness, another might see as enabling. And in reality, they might be right or they might be wrong, depending on the circumstances.

Whether this teenage boy grows up to expect his wife to clean up after him or grows up to follow his mother's example of caring for our loved ones depends on lots of factors—how such things are talked about in the home, the values instilled in him, the kid's personality, how other responsibilities are handled and more.

What do you think? Does her reasoning make sense?

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