Words, Meanings, And Innuendos.


I know I’m not alone in what feels like an eternity of miscommunication and lack of understanding that goes on with my two teenage daughters and myself. I work very hard at being open-minded, versatile and able to see other people’s perspectives. Those qualities are ones that are essential when I work in therapeutic settings.

However, it amazes me how charged the atmosphere can get at home because my daughter and I have a vastly different interpretation of one word. Just a single simple word. Not even a complicated, look up in the dictionary, type of word. Something like the word “clean.”

Clean is perhaps the most detested and fought over thing in our household. The attainment or lack of clean(liness) is the most disagreed upon topic within our home. My two daughters and I speak alien languages on all aspects of the realisation of this word.

This never-ending battle has been going on for at least ten years and has escalated with each passing year. In the past, the argument was very unfair because the other parental unit also displayed a complete lack of understanding and behaved like a self-absorbed 1-year-old.

But now our threesome is supposed to be an enlightened threesome of multi-generational women in tune and enjoying harmonious understanding! Yeah right, back to reality and one more heated discussion between myself and my oldest daughter about my expectations. She is not in school or working currently, so I have asked, that at least, she accomplish one productive activity a day. Productive activities do include sharing in some cleaning.

Yesterday we had our millionth argument about what needed cleaning, why, how, when, etc. Then out of the blue, my daughter said: “I wouldn’t mind and could understand if you wanted me to wash down the bathroom walls or something, but I just can’t stand your obsession with the dishes.”


She said she wouldn’t mind washing walls? I almost fell off the couch. She then went on to say something about how it ‘d be good to have the walls freshened up or something. To be honest, I don’t think I could hear because I was in shock.

It turns out that she totally “gets” that washing the walls is productive, and she is willing to do similar things. That day she did wash the bathroom walls, and now they sparkle with renewed freshness. I don’t care one bit why this somehow fits into her acceptable perception of “clean” and productivity. She is happy and willing to contribute in these ways, and that makes me happy.

The word “clean” has suddenly stopped being such a dirty word around here.


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