Karl Douglass: Organizing house involves everyone

April 4, 2014 

Another spring break is over. Many of our friends and neighbors take a well-deserved family vacation during spring break. At our house, spring break signals the official beginning of spring cleaning. We go through the closets, look under the beds, sweep, dust, vacuum, donate a ton of stuff to local charities and take out lots of trash. Clearly it is not as much fun as a trip to the beach, but our family takes great satisfaction in getting our house in order.

Getting the house organized always leads to family discussions about other things we need to get in order. This year, the hot topic of that discussion was summer camp.

Of course, I told my wife and daughter, "No worries, here is the plan", then proceeded to rattle off a list of camps that Temple would attend, where they fell on the calendar and the dates by which we needed to submit applications and other information. My wife loves a plan, so she nodded in absolute agreement with my outline.

My daughter did not say anything.

I waited, figured she must not have heard me, went over the plan again and looked for her response.

My daughter still did not say anything.

"Is something wrong?" I asked.

"What if I don't want to do any of that?" she said.

Suddenly, I couldn't say anything.

My 13-year-old daughter had just reminded me that she has opinions, too. And in the instances where the decisions her mother and I make affect her, she wanted to make it known that her opinions should be taken into account.

Here's where getting one's house order comes in.

On one hand, I am proud that my daughter is developing her own mind and is willing to speak to situations that concern her. I want her to be independent and self-determined.

On the other hand, her mother and I are charged with Temple's well-being. We have a responsibility to act in her best interest in spite of what she thinks.

Finding a proper balance between these two notions is as essential to bringing order to our house as cleaning out our refrigerator was over this past week. Unfortunately, I am certain that it will take far more than a week for us to figure it all out.

Karl Douglass, Columbus native and resident, is a frequent commenter on local, state and federal politics. Follow him on Twitter@KarlDouglass or facebook.com/karldouglass.

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