Many artciles about messy homes hurting kids intelligence

mommabirdMay 24, 2009

Over the years many people have posted articles on this forum about a messy house hurting kids intelligence and grades. Many of the articles stated that kids with messy moms did worse in school. I don't know about you, but these articles caused me lots of sleepless nights worrying that I'm harming my kids.

I just want to follow up on those artciles, that I started reading when my kids were 5, 3 and 1. They are now 14, 12, and 9 and all do very well in school. Our districut has a "gifted" program for 4th - 6th grade and are all in it. My oldest is going to high school next year & will be taking all advanced classes. I'm not bragging - believe me, these kids amaze me that they are succeeding in spite of their disorganized, messy home and forgetful mom! Not bragging - offering reassurance that a messy home won't harm your kids as much as the "experts" say.

Now, if they'd grown up in an immaculate home - they might be Dougie Howser, right? HA

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Thanks, I needed that. My house is/was always messy. Not unsanitary,just cluttered with too much stuff. I work full time and just have no energy to straighten and clean when I come home. I'm lucky I have the ability to throw something healthy on the table. My 2 daughters don't seem to have suffered. Both are now in college, with nice scholarships, getting good grades. The younger one was always in the "gifted program" .

    Bookmark   May 24, 2009 at 5:38PM
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I always let my own kids(and now my grandkids) cook, paint, make messes, etc. in my house. That (and cleaning up after themselves!) is how they learn.

I also tell myself that all of my incompleted projects and ideas laying around just gave them fodder for their imaginations! LOL

    Bookmark   May 25, 2009 at 4:10PM
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My house is always messy - actually, it's a disaster - but my son just got into a big name Ivy League college, so don't worry. Put your energies where they will matter more - into your kids. Mine have had an interesting childhood and have grown up in a happy, busy, if messy, household. I have always put more importance on doing things with them than cleaning. Dust bunnies simply don't bother me much. I get them when I can.

I think its the kind of mess that matters. If it's the result of parents with serious problems, alcohol, drugs or mental illness, then the kids will definitely be adversely affected.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 1:39AM
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Each of my three beautiful daughter in laws came from very messy homes, and I can assure you that they all have/had careers, two went on to uni, the other worked for a law firm and was highly regarded. Each of them run very clean and organized homes, and have reared three wonderful grandchildren, and they are all very intelligent,loving, funny, wise and wonderful.
The reason they're not messy themselves is that they each of them decided that being organized and clean makes for an easier life in the long run. But coming from messy homes did them absolutely no harm whatsoever, because they came from homes full of love, family and friends. While they were messy homes, they weren't what you'd call squalor, just very very messy and untidy.
And while neither of them want to have homes like that themselves, they all love going home to their parents and don't judge or criticize them in any way.
I'm an organized neat freak, so my kids didn't come from a messy home, but they too all have uni degrees or a trade and are what is regarded as successful. While it might have been organized and tidy, we spent heaps of time doing stuff with the kids and life was full and good.
So.... I believe it's the quality of family life that counts, not the tidiness.
Look at the birds... some of them have neat little perfectly formed nests.. others have great messy bundles of sticks. But I've read that the quality of a nest is in what it's lined with, not what it looks like. And as long as a home is lined with love and care, it's a good nest. My allegory probably breaks down somewhere, but who cares. Don't feel guilty about mess when it's loving family mess. Made me sad to think you had sleepless nights over this... no need at all. I agree with Sunnyflies.. it's the kind of mess that matters. A home should be a home before it's a house. Sure, I love being organized and neat, but that's just because I can't function right unless I have an ordered environment, but that had nothing to do with how my kids turned out.
Just my humble opinion.. smile.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2009 at 5:55AM
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Is it living in a messy home that (allegedly) harms intelligence, or is it that keeping a messy home is correlated to something else that harms intelligence? From what I've read, a parent's education and economic status are the biggest indicators of how the children will do on testing, etc. Maybe higher income people have larger homes, so they can better organize things? They can afford a maid. Isn't hoarding associated with certain insecurities? Maybe people who are more well off tend to not hoard, or they have the space to hide it.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2009 at 5:11PM
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aw - my kids turned ok - they're just normal but not harmed. my youngest was a neat freak as a baby - and stayed that way in spite of! my dd was messy until she hit about 12 or 13 - then she became a neat freak and also spent hours on hair, makeup, nails. I did also at that age.

it's the love in the home that makes them.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2009 at 3:37AM
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My house was always messy when my children were growing up. It was beyond messy, actually, because it's an 1850 house that we hadn't gotten around to remodeling very much at that point. No closets, for one thing, and that didn't help. There were holes in the wood floors here and there, a leaky roof a lot of the time, you name it. Plus lots of clutter.

I regret that we didn't make improvements until after the kids were grown. However, I know for a fact that my children's friends loved spending time here (they've told me), and I can tell you that if my own children's intelligence was lowered as a result of my housekeeping they would have been freakin' geniuses if I'd been neat--way too smart to function in the real world.

As it was, they were all in the Gifted Program at school, and all went to college. My oldest and youngest have great jobs. She's going for her MBA, and he just graduated with a BS in IST. My middle child was a performance music (clarinet) major in college when she died in 2001.

It seems to me very often messy homes go hand in hand with creativity and the kind of atmosphere that fosters independent thinking and family fun. My kids and I were always doing arts and crafts projects--and in fact we had an annual Christmas crafts party at our house every year--and my husband, a Ph.D. scientist, did a lot of science project with them. The kids and I read together all the time. We had books all over the place. Clutter!


    Bookmark   August 2, 2009 at 12:25PM
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It would depend on why the house is "messy".

Terminally disorganized because the parents are never there, are alcoholic, are clinically depressed, or are ADHD ... not good sign for kids. They can't get anything done because they can't find anything.

Cluttered with books people are reading, projects that are getting completed, and "good clutter" like that ... good sign for the kids. That's a dusting of clutter on top of organized living.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2009 at 2:43PM
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This reminds me of a joke. A good friend asked a woman whose son and daughter had both recently gotten married how the kids were doing. "Oh, my son's wife is such a slob. She refuses to cook and clean. And my daughter is so lucky, she doesn't have to lift a finger, her husband hired a cook and a maid for her."

    Bookmark   August 2, 2009 at 8:17PM
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I always wonder about cause/effect/correlation in those sorts of studies.

Maybe for many kids the *reason* they grow up in a messy home is that their parents are unorganized, or scattered. Or yes, sometimes poor and uneducated. Or sort of 'absent' from the home and family in some way.

And those factors influence how well kids do in general.

it's not the messy house that's the problem. So if you compensate for whatever is causing the messy house (like, you're not organized around the house, but you teach your kids how to be effective with their time in other ways, etc.), you don't have any problem.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2009 at 11:01PM
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