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Parents face backlash over enforcing laundry rules with daughter after college. AITA?

Parents face backlash over enforcing laundry rules with daughter after college. AITA?


"AITA for ignoring our daughter’s inconvenient boundary?"


My wife (39f) and I (36f) have a daughter (technically my stepdaughter but I’ve raised her since she was 5) (19f) from a previous relationship of my wife’s (her father is not in the picture) who has come back home after her first year at university. She’s picked up a new (and problematic) issue since she was last home for an extended period of time, surrounding laundry.

Basically, she has established a “boundary” where nobody is to touch her clothes. Her reasoning is that she’s concerned something will go missing/get damaged, thinks it’s just gross for us to go through her stuff, and is an adult who deserves privacy. All fine, we have 3 young children in our home (9f, 9f and 2m) so plenty of washing to keep us entertained.

The issue is that she has a habit of monopolising washing facilities to the extent where we’re effectively prevented from being able to get any other laundry done. For example, last weekend she put a wash in before work and hung it out on the line at around 11am.

She then left for work (12pm-10pm) - her wash was dry within an hour, and obviously she wasn’t going to be back all day. We had a few days worth of washing to get through, so my wife (her mum) took everything off the line and folded it. We got through 5 other loads that day.

She was NOT happy when she got home, and said that she’d been very clear that we weren’t to touch her things. When we explained the situation above, she said it was “first come, first served” (not something we’ve ever said) and that since the next day was due to be nice also, we should’ve just waited to get through it the next day. That really angered us.

We’ve offered her a weekly laundry day, where we’ll avoid using the machines so she can have freedom to do as she pleases on that day, but she said once a week won’t cut it. Fair enough, but there are 5 other people in the house that need clean clothes/bedding/towels.

Other than that all we can really suggest is that she keeps on top of her washing. If she’s at home we’ll ask her to clear her clothes from the machine/dryer/washing line as needed, but like any 19 year old she has a social life/work commitments and is often busy.

She’s upset because she says we’re not respecting her boundaries, whereas we’ve pointed out that while “don’t move my clothes” is objectively reasonable, it’s not fair for her to do so at the inconvenience of everyone else in our home.

Essentially the last conversation we had ended up with her in tears because we said as long as situations like Saturday keep occurring, we’ll continue to move her stuff. Just FYI, we do fold her clothes carefully, and leave them in a basket in a communal living area so they’re kept together, in good condition, and we’re not going in and out of her room.

We normally have a good relationship with her, so this is all a bit unusual. We’ve asked her if everything else is okay, and she says yes and seems otherwise normal in and of herself, and she’s normally reasonable so - are we being unreasonable?

EDIT: So the consensus is pretty much that we’re right, and our daughter is being massively unreasonable, and that we’re being pushovers for not being tougher on her from the off. We‘ve shown her the comments, and unfortunately she’s still insisting that we’re the unreasonable ones.

We’d never considered the local laundromat, and have banned her from using our washing machine for the next fortnight given she’s still unwilling to adjust. She‘a absolutely FURIOUS, and wife has ordered a lock for the washroom door to enforce the 2 week rule. Hopefully a couple of weeks hauling her stuff to and from will help her see the light. Thanks very much all!!

EDIT 2: A slightly calmer update this morning. Our daughter came to talk to us, and apologised for the situation. She said she had found the transition back home hard (I get that) and had maybe become a bit territorial over her stuff while at uni. All okay.

She then asked if she could please have a laundry day, and be allowed to use the machine. Her place of work is closed Mondays, so that’s now “her” day, and we’ve said that she can use the machine on other days - but if by 7am Tuesday there’s anything in the way (or any issues on any other days!) we’ll be moving her stuff.

A genuine sorry goes a long way with us, and while the advice has been to hold firm, we don’t really want an issue if the situation can be resolved calmly. We’ve also made it clear that if her things DO have to be moved on any day (other than Monday which is totally hers) and we get ANY grief about it, we’ll go back to a 2 week ban and there’s no going back.

Maybe a less satisfying update than the last one, but we’re happy we can resolve the problem calmly. She did mention she’d read through some of these comments last night, so thank you to everyone that weighed in.

Here were the top rated comments from readers in response to the OP's post:


NTA. This is insane, you can respect her boundaries but she needs to work within YOUR rules/schedule, etc. She can't just dictate something then make it impossible to go about your own business. It's ludicrous.

The good thing is, you have the upper hand here. If she doesn't want her stuff touched, then she'd better get it off the line before you need to use it. Ask for her input on timing, but being clear there are 6 people living in the house and she gets the equivalent of 1/6th of the available time to do her wash.

If she fights it, assign her a time. Respect that time, and don't do any of your wash during her scheduled time (so she can't come back at you that 'your stuff was in the wash'.

Go about your business. If he stuff is in the wash/on the line and she's not around to move it, you move it. DONE. PERIOD. This teenager-making-rules has to stop. You are the parents, and it's your house.


She also seems to have forgotten that doing laundry at home is a privilege, not a right, and she doesn't pay for that privilege. If she really has a problem with her parents' laundry rules, she is welcome to go to a laundromat.


"She also seems to have forgotten that doing laundry at home is a privilege, not a right." Seriously. My first thought was to tell her "Fine, do your clothing at the nearst laudry mat. If you can't respect our right to use our washing machine & clothes line then you don't get to use them." NTA obviously.


Agreed but...this seems like such a weird boundary for this girl to have developed. I know OP said she told him nothing more is going on here but...THERE'S SOMETHING MORE GOING ON HERE.


NTA. It is unreasonable for her to expect you to wait around for her to free up the facilities. If she doesn't like the one day a week idea, she can take it to a laundrette otherwise, if she isn't around to move her washing in a timely way, it will be moved for her. She doesn't get to set boundaries around the use of common facilities in a home she doesn't pay for.


NTA. The only reason you’re not ‘respecting her boundaries’ is because she’s being inconsiderate and selfish. Ironically, that would stomp on most people’s boundaries. Tell her you have no problem respecting hers, providing she respects yours.

So, what do you think about this one? If you could give the OP any advice here, what would you tell them?

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