Solution: You have to sell this laundry thing as a skill, not a chore.
"This is not a pull-your-weight conversation," said clinical psychologist Jennifer Powell-Lunder, co-author of "Teenage as a Second Language: A Parent's Guide to Becoming Bilingual."
"This conversation is how you think it's terrific that he's growing up and ready to take on more responsibilities. You're empowering him."
So you teach him the laundry basics and stick to your guns about his taking over. You're not doing his laundry anymore because it's an important skill he needs to navigate a successful life going forward. Besides, isn't he getting a little old for his parents to be rifling through his pockets? Questioning every receipt, note and smudge they come across?
"Be prepared for him to get embarrassed," Powell-Lunder said. "But it's true."
It doesn't mean he won't put up a fight.
"If he says, 'I don't care. I'm just going to wear dirty laundry,' then your argument back is, 'Then you're sending me and the world a message that things are not the way they should be.'
"Laundry is what we call an ADL, an activity of daily living," she said. "It's related to how you present yourself to the world. Does he really want to be the kid everybody calls stinky? Does he really want to be the kid who walks into school with toothpaste stains on his shirt?"
This is where teenhood works to your advantage. "One of the hallmarks of adolescence is the egocentrism," Powell-Lunder said. "That belief that the whole world is watching them. And that imaginary audience is far more powerful than anything you can say or do."
In other words, let him wear the dirty clothes. It's a behavior that probably won't last long, unlike the behavior that arises from expecting others to do your dirty work, which tends to linger.
More Life Headlines
The power of play: You're never too old to have fun Iceland's Westfjords is a land of beauty and sweeping vistas Have art, will travel: Find out-of-this-world art at Sea-Tac airport Grief comes in waves that grow calmer but never stop Want a better smoothie? Make it yourself Annual doctor exam helps put kids on right path PBS online shows sketch science of running Tips for staying healthy at the state fair
Our to-do list full of ideas for your weekend
Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.