How’d you react if someone was organizing and rearranging your stuff without your permission? An internet user asked, “Am I a jerk for making my daughter feel bad for cleaning/organizing?”. We need you to find out!
The Original Poster (OP) married her husband nine years ago, and with him, OP got a bonus child, 14-year-old Steph.
“She’s an adorable kid, and we get along well, always have,” says OP.
THE ONLY ISSUE
The only issue is that Steph often goes into OP’s room to “clean” or organize despite being told not to and then loses a bunch of their stuff because she can’t remember where she’s put it.
“I’ve asked her to stop so many times, and she will apologize and say she ‘can’t help it.’ Recently, she’s been doing the same thing with the baby’s nursery,” says OP.
WHEN OP CAME HOME AFTER GIVING BIRTH
She (OP) had a baby 1.5 weeks ago. They had the nursery set up perfectly. All diapers and diaper wipes are on the changing table. The baby’s clothes were arranged by size in the closet, etc. On day two of being home, OP went into the nursery and found it wholly rearranged (she had just gotten back from the baby appointment).
“I couldn’t find the diapers anywhere. My breast pump wasn’t where I left it. I immediately called the school and told them to put Steph on the phone, and she had to tell me where everything was.
I told her at this point that she wasn’t to rearrange the nursery and that if she did it again, more drastic measures would be taken,” says OP.
WHAT HAPPENED YESTERDAY?
Well, yesterday, OP visited her mom for the day, and when she got home, she was immediately met with more organizing. All of the baby’s clothes were now mixed in sizes and arranged by colors, and all tags had been removed (which OP hadn’t removed on purpose).
“Her bassinet was moved to the other side of the room, her diapers were put in her bassinet and taken out of the changing table, and my breast pump and rocker were now moved to the opposite side, where there’s not even a plug-in so I can’t use it there,” says OP.
WHAT DID OP DO NEXT?
She (OP) immediately called her husband in and said, “I told her more drastic measures would be taken if she came into this room and messed stuff up again. She’s not going to the homecoming dance.”
OP’s husband agrees with OP and tells his daughter the same. Steph is now guilt-tripping OP because OP “knows how she is and knows she can’t help it.”
“Her mom is now saying I’m ignorant and that she’s still going (it’s not her weekend, so she has no say) and that I need to tone it down because I’m casting judgment on OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) behavior,” says OP.
SOME MORE INFORMATION
OP later edited the post and added the following information:
“3 separate specialists have evaluated her. They all say she doesn’t have OCD and has control issues (i.e., they said that her behaviors are linked to control because it’s only other people’s space that she is like this with.
Her room is a complete mess and always has been, and she can never locate anything of her own, but she refuses to clean her room. Specialists say it’s her way of controlling something around her and have routed it to her mom, basically abandoning her.
Steph’s mom gave up custody years ago and only gets one weekend a month because that’s all she wants).”
Is OP a jerk?
SHE CAN’T GET AWAY WITH THIS
“Not the jerk. Steph was warned and did it anyway. She’s getting older and needs to learn that the world doesn’t revolve around her and her OCD. This will not fly with roommates when she hits college. She should learn that moving other people’s belongings has consequences.”
SHE NEEDS TO BE IN THERAPY
“I’m glad you got her evaluated, but just because it isn’t OCD doesn’t mean the issue isn’t psychological. She feels out of control, and this is the only way she feels better. It’s a coping mechanism that isn’t working well, but she doesn’t have any others. She needs to be in therapy to help her learn better strategies. No jerks here.”
THIS BEHAVIOR IS NOT ACCEPTABLE
“Not the jerk. You’ve set clear boundaries. Even if Steph has OCD, the behavior is not acceptable.
You say she’s been assessed, but is she getting treatment? If she’s not in therapy, she needs to get it. If she has been going for some time to the same person with no improvement, it’s time to have a conversation with her provider or consider switching to a new provider.”
PLEASE DON’T DO THAT
“Please don’t take away homecoming from a girl who is struggling. It is okay to have boundaries and consequences, but not before you seek help for her. She needs therapy, and from there, rules, boundaries, and consequences can be decided. You’re the jerk.”
PUNISHING HER IS NOT THE SOLUTION
“Whether it’s OCD or control issues, it’s still a compulsion. She needs support and therapy. It won’t magically go away because you threaten and punish her. The change with the new baby may be a stressor, and this is a coping mechanism. I understand you are frustrated, but you’re the jerk for punishing her for something she clearly can’t control.”
ADDRESS THE ROOT CAUSE
“No jerks here. It sounds very frustrating, especially with a newborn to care for. Have you talked to her about why she needs to clean/organize? It sounds like she might be reacting to having a younger sibling.
She might be afraid of being overlooked or abandoned. I think you should work on addressing the root cause instead of punishing the behavior if you want to create change. Congratulations on the little one, by the way!”
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This article was originally published on Mrs. Daaku Studio.