The Surprising Reason Why I No Longer Get Angry About My Daughter’s Messy Room

by Jeremy

I am a neat freak who feels anxiety at the sight of clutter. When the culprit of the chaos is my 16-year-old daughter, my concern turns into anger. Merely catching a glimpse inside her room is enough to cause my inner Hulk to emerge. As you can imagine, this has led to some family conflicts.

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I’m not just talking about her room. I know the exact path she traveled from the front door to the kitchen to her room. Instead of dropping breadcrumbs like Hansel and Gretel, she marks her way with a jacket, sneakers, and rice cake pieces. As if that’s not enough, the pantry door will be left open, and all the lights along the way will stay illuminated.

I used to get angry. I felt like she did not care that her messes strewn throughout the house upset me. I felt like a failure for not being able to teach her how to be neat. But when anger didn’t change anything, I stopped getting angry at her and instead thought about it more.

I’d always suspected that she had an ADHD diagnosis like her twin brother. Besides the disorganization and messes, she is constantly losing and forgetting things, and she feels the need to keep busy or else she becomes bored. Most of these behaviors may sound typical of a teen, but she has struggled with these tasks since she was young. She was never the type of kid that a screen could entertain; instead, she liked socializing or doing physical activities like swimming.

  When I filled out the paperwork for my son’s ADHD reevaluation several years ago, I remember thinking, ”She has way more of these symptoms than he does.” I decided to evaluate her by requesting that her teachers fill out the Conners Comprehensive Behavior Rating Scales questionnaire. They identified no signs of the disorder in their responses. Since she received straight A’s in her honors classes and did not have any behavioral problems, I decided not to pursue it further.

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