Is neatness genetic!?
...and longitudinal reports from unschoolers

"Several studies have uncovered uncanny similarities between identical twins separated at birth and reared in completely different families. One such study found a set of twins obsessively compulsive about neatness even after one twin grew up with slobs, the other with neatniks. Nature's thumbprint, again."

David Elkind, in Superkids and Super Problems, Psychology Today, May 1987

Whether there's a "neatness" gene or not, it does seem that "training and requiring chores" doesn't create neatness.

Jen Lynch signed this to a post:

Jen (who was never REQUIRED to do chores as a child but who always enjoyed laundry and recreational vacuuming and now has a cleaning and organizing business, lol!)

Pam Sorooshian's response to a question about this idea:
"Children have to be forced to keep their rooms neat otherwise they will grow up to be adults who keep filthy office spaces and they will be ostracized and potentially fired."
I'm a lousy housekeeper. My house frequently looks like a tornado hit it. I'm busy with other things and just really don't care that much - I always have something better to do (like writing this post, eating fresh strawberries, chatting with my husband, and watching the basketball game on tv - all the things I'm doing right now).

Outside of my house I'm a neatnik - when we're camping or staying in a hotel or someone else's house, I'm always straightening up and clearning.

My kids were messy like me - their own rooms were usually messy when they were growing up. At 22, Roxana lives in an apartment with 3 other girls and SHE is the neatnik of the four of them. She's organized and clean. She's the one who gets the other girls to wash floors and take out trash, etc. Her clothes are all neatly hung up or folded in drawers, etc. Roya, 24, lives in her own house and she's way more regular at housework than I have ever been. My youngest is 19 - she lives at home, has her own room. It gets messy and then she straightens it all up and makes it nice - it is picked up and nice more often than messy.

So - none of the three of them took after me and my messy ways even though I didn't "train" them to keep their own space clean.


I have 3 daughters, two grown up and one still at home. The oldest used to be a real neat nic with her room, everything had to be in its place.. now she's married with a kid of her own and her house is a total mess most of the time.....Middle daughter was a collecter of 'stuff'..not overly concerned in keeping her room clean as a kid/teen, but now she is very much the housekeeper with her own place...and even comes home and gets after me for not being neater!! Go figure..... My youngest daughter is very messy, but she says its easier to find things when its on the floor.. ha.... I've never complained to my girls about their rooms as that is there personal space.. as long as ants or other bugs aren't invading the rest of the house because of their soda cans or whatever, I'm cool with however they want to have their rooms. I have offered to help, or suggest ways to better manage... but in my opinion all is subject to change and what they do as young folks isn't necessarily how neat they are later on... My girls are now 25, 19 and almost 15 yrs old.

Julie in MO

Chores and other parental considerations.