Being Harassed by CPS Because My 10 Year Old Has a Normal Hygiene Problem

Updated on November 14, 2010
K.V. asks from Escondido, CA
55 answers

As a parent of a ten year old boy, I've done my research over the last few years as my son has gotten closer to puberty; Both through the web and through family members in many job facets and their experiences that have consistantly told me his behavior is normal. Psychologists, teachers, parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles; They all tell me that for a boy of his age, not caring about his hygiene is normal. Given my own experiences with myself and my brother, I can truthfully say that it's not just boys, it's all children. Psychologist's blogs, parental help web pages, and even published books site that it is normal for a child to go through this phase for an undetermined length of time, usually through the begining of their teenage years; However, this can start as early as 9 years old.

My family tries their best to make sure that he gets clean. He takes a bath every other day, if not every day on those days that my nose says he needs it. I do his laundry and make sure that he has clean clothes to wear. Given the chance to make the decision himself, my son would wear the same clothes day in and day out if I didn't catch him. As much as I would love to hover over my son every second of the day, I'm trying to teach him independance and good decision making skills. There are times (and more often the older he gets) where I give him the chance to choose what he wants and take the concequences. He realizes that some of his problems at school are due to his hygiene and while I point this out to him, it just seems to frustrait him all the more when 'mom is right.'

On top of this, his biological father's mother (Grandma) just died of ALS and he's started acting out. He visits his dad every summer back east and it was really hard on him to see her wasting away. So right now everything is so much more dramatic and hard to deal with.

Twice now, through what I believe to be ignorance on the part of the school and CPS, I have had a worker come to my home and tell me that she/he is there because my son is not wearing clean clothes to school and that they are too small. That afternoon my son comes home and just like every other afternoon, he usually has a few stains on clothing due to lunch or from recess, or even from some art project that the class is working on. The only piece of clothing that is too small is his favorite flannel shirt that used to belong to my fiancée. He is a boy! Grass, food, and paint stains happen. As I stated, there are times when he does where the same pants or shirt to school; And as stated before, I have been told by numerous sources that this is normal child behavior.

I had been in contact with the school since the begining of the year letting them know what was going on with his grandmother and that I know there is a hygiene problem. I asked for them to help me work with him. Instead of doing this, however, the messages never got to the proper people; In fact, the school counciler never even knew that there was a family illness nor was she informed when his grandmother died. I didn't even know there was a school councilor available because no one ever told me. However, they are the ones who called CPS. I can't even say for sure who in the school it was and of course CPS won't tell me.

To add to this, when my son was questioned at school by the worker, he told her that my fiance smokes a pipe and I am trying to quit. The workers first response to this was to ask to see the pipe and to ask if we were doing drugs. I was astonished. Not only is the pipe an obvious tabacco pipe, but the worker automatically assumed drugs where involved when a pipe is mentioned Who is the one with the problem here? The one that assumes illegal drugs are involved when 'smoking' and a 'pipe' are mentioned? Or a ten year old by who has a normal child's hygiene problem? And ridiculously enough, the worker told us to keep the pipe tobacco out of Tony's reach so he wouldn't eat it!

To add even more to this problem, my house is cluttered. We have a lot of stuff and not a lot of storage space for it, so obviously we have to put it somehwere, and that somewhere usually ends up being out in the open until we can find some new technique of packing extra things into zero space. Unfortunatly, physics has not advaced to a state where we can feasably divide by zero. On top of this, we have 3 outdoor cats. Any pet owner knows that with pets usually come smells and apparently my cats offend this worker's nose. She complained quite a bit about the smell, which is quite odd considering our friends that visit every now and again never say anything. And when asked for honesty, all they say is that it smells like we have pets. Nothing more. You could claim that they are lying to save us the heartbreak, but at this point, they know my son's residance is on the line and they wouldn't do that to us.

So my question to you all, after that long winded explanation, is what can I do? Short of giving half of my posessions to Goodwill due to lack of storage space and giving away my family's beloved animals, I'm at a loss. What had started out as my son having a normal hygiene issue has become a family/friend wide rampage through my house on a cleaning spree because the state demands it.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Asheville on

Dont have any help with the major stuff, but thought "why not make the too small flannel shirt into a pillow by sewing it closed at sleeves and bottom, stuffing then sewing the top. This way he can have it, but not wear it and still be comforted by it.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Madison on

To clean and de-clutter the house, this site may be helpful:

Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful

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answers from Austin on

Lots of excuses here..
Start writing down solutions instead.

Your son need to begin using deoderant everyday.
Son needs to be made to bathe every day.. This means make sure he knows how to use shampoo and rinse all of it out. Every day.

Purchase deodorant soap.
Make sure he washes his feet, his privates and his underarms.. Make sure he does this thoroughly. Every day.

Make sure he cleans his ears and behind his ears and behind his neck, every day.

Then, he MUST be reminded to dry off as much as possible and then to use the deodorant. If he bathes/showers at night, remind him to use the deodorant again in the morning. Our daughter kept deodorant in the bathroom as ell as her bedroom.
Make sure he brushed his teeth and tongue twice a day.

If his shoes smell and cannot be cleaned, consider purchasing a new pair, 2 pairs is even better so he can switch them out every day.
Clean feet and clean socks EVERYDAY are a must. No excuses.
Clean underwear EVERYDAY.

He should have 3 pairs (at least) of clean pants to wear each week. If a pair gets dirty or he has some sort of spill on them.. they need to be washed before he can wear them again.

He should have at least 5 clean school shirts per week. On the weekends if you want him to wear ill fitting dirty clothes, that can be your choice, but I do not know why you would want your child to present himself that way.

The litter box should be emptied of the waste EVERY day. This means scoop it our every day and add more litter if needed. If there is "cat Spray" on your furniture.. you need to purchase some cat neutralizer at a pet store and attempt to clean it.. Vanilla is a great odor absorber also sprinkling baking soda can also help.

If you have carpet, consider pulling it out and either replacing it or putting down flooring that can be mopped once a week.

Things that you do not use at least a few times a year.. get rid of it. It takes up LIVING space. You are not living, if you are surrounded by stuff.. It is a burden to hold onto it..

Here is what we told our daughter. "When we die, it is not your responsibility to keep anything that belonged to us. If you want it great, if you don't, that is fine. Give it away, sell it or throw it away. There is not anything here we want you to be burdened with keeping.or storing"..

Look around you.. is there anything you would expect your son to HAVE to have when you die? If not and you are not using it, get rid of it..

I am sending you strength and Clarity .. CPS does not Willy Nilly keep visiting and making suggestions or setting expectations unless there is a reason..

Take a new look at your life, your home and your beautiful son who is obviously being neglected. He deserves more than this.

25 moms found this helpful


answers from Stationed Overseas on

N.'s husband writes:
Dude, that totally sucks CPS is in your chili. I'm very sorry about that. I do think that maybe a few notes from the former stinky boy's perspective may help. Some of this will be tough love:

Your desire to instill decision making at a young age is awesome, however, boys will NEVER EVER EVER EVER care about how they look or smell unless a female opinion is involved. Until the girlfriend/wife comes along, that is you. He got "off the reservation" looking raggity. I'm sorry to say that. He's the "smelly kid" at school. You have to re-take operational control of his hygiene, including what he wears everyday and enforcing at minimum one bath a day, sometimes two. The favorite shirt has got to go. It is too small. I had favorite clothes too, and it was a sad day when Luke Skywalker was permenantly removed from the t-shirt line-up.

A more practical approach are the "School Clothes/Play clothes" drawers. I had these. One drawer is nice clothing for school, the other is the older shirts (maybe the favorite goes here) for running around outside after school and playing on the weekend. And for fear of the 4 Horsemen of the Apocolypse coming at my brother and I in the form of my Mother's wrath, NEVER between did they meet.

Remember, with boys you are less a mom so much as a zookeeper. We respond to cattle prods and withholding of food, not as you put it "accepting consequnces of our decisons". You are absolutely right, his behavior is normal, which is shy it must be dealt with and dealt with swiftly and conclusively. Until God comes back, you are his ambassador. Put the fear of god into this child. He will never leave the home again in any sort of dissarray that will bring you embarassment. Don't worry bout "losing your son." We are not wired like that. In fact, one day we will thank you.

And I don't think he is acting out because of the issues back East. 10 years old is the beginning of a boy's desire to push the behavior envelope a bit. This will continue until he is reigned in, usully by Dad. I remember getting tossed into the closet by my Dad for mouthing off to my Mom. Never did that again. Since Dad isn't around all year, you have to be strong and give him the sometimes tough guidance he needs. It cannot be your fiance. He is "outside the tribe". It must be you or your ex.

Dad's teach us to be men. Moms teach us to be Gentlemen. Quickest way out of this mess: teach your little wild hooligan to be Gentleman.

To parahrase Clint Eastwood from the movie "Heartbreak Ridge": If you look like Gentlemen, you start feeling like Gentlemen, and pretty soon dammit you'll start acting like Gentlemen.

This worked for me way back when, and while my wife may not always get along with my mom, she does appreciate the fruits of my mother's child rearing technique.

24 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I'm sorry if this sounds harsh, but I think you might be in denial about your living conditions.
•If you have 3 "outdoor" cats, what is the pet smell from? Do they use inside litter boxes? Are they cleaned daily? If so, they don't smell. I cat sit for a couple with two inside cats and their house doesn't smell like cat poop or cat pee.
•This is a 10 year old that needs a bath every day. Most kids do. Is his bedding cleaned regularly? If not, even daily baths won't stand up to that.
If he is clean, his clothes are clean, deodorant is used, hair is clean, teeth are brushed, I don't see what the hygiene problem is--you don't state what it IS exactly.
•I'm sorry he's having such a hard time about his grandmother. Have you gotten him some grief counseling? It might really help him. Did he get to say goodbye to her? If not, maybe he could write down his thoughts, memories and goodbye to her.
•I know you want to encourage independence but obviously, that's not working at this point in time. When a child's hygiene is so bad it is causing him issue at school, I think it's your JOB to step in and make sure that he is clean. And I mean scrupulously clean.
•As for the clutter you describe in your home, it sounds like its to the point of overwhelming, so maybe you DO need to give away half of your stuff to Goodwill. Most people have too much stuff anyway. As for the cats--again--if they are outside cats and you are keeping their boxes clean, I don't see what they have to do with this. Showing your son how to keep a clean and organized living space might go a long way toward his hygiene issue.
I doubt CPS would really get involved because a kid has some body odor, so I wonder what's really going on here.

23 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

This isn't what you want to hear:

It really sounds like you're in denial - your child isn't presenting as clean, your house is presenting as unsafely cluttered and smelly. As a teacher, it would take a lot of days of a kid seeming dirty and smelly for me to call CPS, but I would if I felt that the child was beyond normal dirty for an extended period of time. CPS does not have the manpower or money to investigate claims where there really is nothing there. They were right to ask about the pipe - better that they found out for sure that it was tobacco than simply assume it was drugs!

My best advice is, rather than turn to us looking for ways to fight this, is to ask CPS what they would like to see happen. They want your kid bathed every day? Give him a shower every day. They want some of the clutter gone? Get rid of it. I know it seems rediculous to you, but it probably isn't.

Good luck.

23 moms found this helpful


answers from Gainesville on

You have to understand that teachers, counselors and such do not take calling CPS lightly. If they felt strongly enough to call CPS chances are he was getting talked about/made fun of at school. Boy or no, it's ultimately your responsibility to make sure he gets a bath *every* night, washes his hair, etc. It's warm in CA like it's warm in Florida and if my kids don't get a bath every night they smell like goats. You even said in your post that you contacted the school about his hygiene problems. As the parent you have to be the one to buckle down on him and make sure he does what he's supposed to do. And it's your responsibility to make sure you look at him before he leaves the house to ensure he's dressed clean and appropriately. My son comes home looking like a disaster most days but he leaves looking clean and neat.

As far as the house-get some bins with lids. Pack them with the stuff you aren't using every day and label them. That looks a heck of a lot neater and more organized than clutter sitting around.

Pet smells are very distinct and if even your friends are telling you it smells like you have a pet then you have a problem. I have pets, I have friends that have 3 *indoor* cats and you would never know they have animals. That is the way it should be.

Unfortunately in this day, the case worker has to ask about drugs. It's a sad fact of life for too many kids. If she didn't ask she wouldn't be doing her job and it could cost a child a lot.

Rather than feeling defensive use this as an opportunity to improve things for your son and around your house.

22 moms found this helpful


answers from Hartford on

I am very sorry, but I think you are in denial. There is no way CPS gets involved on more then one occasion without there being some merit. Please stop telling yourself that these are normal issues. My son only showers every 3rd day and is far from smelly. Clean your house, get rid of the cats, help your son instead of making excuses.

17 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

If it is to the point of CPS getting involved several times, obviously it is a problem. You keep saying it is normal for a boy this age to not care about hygiene, but your situation sounds extreme. His clothes should be clean on a daily basis. He is old enough to shower on a daily basis and wear deoderant. Go through his clothes to make sure they fit. Designate a box or drawer for play clothes--ripped, stained, too small to wear in public. Let him know that these clothes are not for school. He needs to be taught to take some pride in his appearance. It may be "normal" for him to not WANT to shower daily, but it is not "normal" for you to let him get away with it.

17 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

It is normal for children, especially boys, to go through phases of "questionable hygiene". It is also normal for parents to insist on daily baths and clean clothes (at least on school days). You need to insist on a daily bath (if he doesn't do it properly, dad may need to help), brushing teeth at least once a day (again, if he doesn't do it properly you may need to help), and he goes to school clean and in clean exceptions. If he is lounging around the house and doesn't want a bath on Saturday (and isn't dirty) then that is ok but going to school dirty or smelly is not ok. It is not about what he wants, it is about what he needs. Also be sure his bedding is washed at least every two weeks (more if his hygiene is still questionable).

When someone says "it smells like you have pets" it is the same as saying you have "pet odors" which typically isn't a good smell. You mentioned that they are outdoor cats...if they are outdoor cats, why does your home smell "like you have pets?" If the answer is because they come in too then they are indoor/outdoor pets and either they stink and rub off on your things or they have urinated on things. That is a smell you can't get out too easily (and if your home is cluttered it is even harder). You may not smell it because you are used to it. I have a relative that has horrible pet odors and I can't be in their home for two seconds without it bothering me and they are oblivious (or were until my daughter started gaging immediately).

What you need to do is go through your things and if you don't need it but can't bring yourself to get rid of it consider storage. Get rid of anything you can. Then check your carpets for odors. If getting new carpeting is not an option, at least air your home out and clean all the carpets (treat for pet odors too). Be sure to keep your home as neat and clean as your can (especially if you have a lot of clutter).

Connecting the pipe and drugs is probably not as far fetched for the worker as you think it is. She probably see this EVERY DAY. From her perspective, you have a son that goes to school unclean, in dirty clothes (that may not always fit), lives in a cluttered home with odors. It would not be a far stretch that drugs may be many cases they are. Maybe not in yours but often none the less. You should keep pipes out of children's reach but I doubt a 10 year old would eat it.

I don't mean this as a criticism but rather an observation...most, if not all. schools have counselors. I am not sure how your son could be 10 and you not know his school has one (and would be the person to call regarding the grandmother's death). But, now you do. Ask for assistance. Whoever called CPS did what they felt necessary for your son. Take this as a warning and get things in order.

16 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My brothers refused to wear deopderant or brush thier teeth until they got interested in girls. Then oh man, they were squeeky clean and wearing Stetson! So, I understand a preteen boys' smell. I also understand how embarassing it is to have your way of life questioned and judged. But the bottom line is, as you stated, your sons place of residence is on the line. So, whether you think it's fair or whether or not you agree doesn't really matter. Even though you can justify all this to yourself and the people in your life, it's progressed passed that point.

Now is the time for action. You're a mama bear trying to protect your baby cub. Take no prisoners mama. You have to give the cats away. Cat vs kid - kid wins every time. You have to get rid of the stuff. Have a garage sale and sell enough stuff to buy a storage shed. You may have a clutter problem or you may have a hoarding problem. If that's the case, ask for help. If the court or CPS see that you are taking steps to correct the situation or that you are asking for help, they will work with you. Contact the school counselor and ask if there are any family counsleing resources for you and your son. If he is acting out and you know that, it will be your responsibility to try and get him some help for it.
I know it's easier said than done. But if the house were on fire, you would let all that stuff go to save him. Well mama, your house is on fire! Do what you know you have to do. Love and strength to you and your boy.

14 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

I have to agree with some others that seem to think that the problem is not with CPS, it is with you. It definitely seems liek there is some type of denial going on. You offer a lot of reasons why your son is the way he is, but it does not seem that you are seeking any solutions to it. If school personnel are concerned enough to call, and CPS does not immediately dismiss it, it is really time to admit that you need to make some changes in your household and behaviour.

13 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I have an 11 yr old who hates to bathe. We live in NY so in the winter if he hasn't been running around outside getting sweaty he's allowed to go a day without a shower. If he's been physically active and in the warmer months he must shower every day.

I've found that many boys do not clean their butts very well after using the toilet. Sorry to be gross. My son would occasionally smell like "butt" because he didn't wipe well and it wasn't until his older boy cousin told him he "smelled like a_s" did my son take it seriously and begin to clean himself well.

I bought him the Axe brand shampoo, body wash, deodorant which apparently is popular with the teen/tween boys. Not my preferred scent but it's better than BO. Before EVERY shower I remind him - start at the top, wash your hair and scalp thoroughly, if you smell like a puppy when you come out you're going back in. Then wash your face, ears, neck and move down your body leaving you private area last. When you feet are clean, clean your privates and butt very thoroughly. Kids need to be told the same thing about a thousand times before it sticks.

It's not always easy to tell how a kid smells if he lives in your house, expecially if the house is contributing to how he smells. We don't smell our own house. My SIL, BIL and their son smell horribly. They have always had a dog and they never clean. Their house smells overwhelmingly like dirty, wet dog and so does their clothing. My SIL smells like a gross dirty large dog becuase her clothes do. I think she bathes every day. My nephew, who is now in his 20s and partially disabled (not mentally in any way) has severe body odor. Unfortunately for him he smells like sweat, urine, feces and dog. It's really hard to have them around. I am uncomfortable having them sit on my upholstered furniture because i feel like the scent can stick to the fabric... We have stopped going to their house but of course, NEVER have said anything to them about how badly overwhelming is their odor. this SIL is very touchy and assumes everyone is out to get her - she looks to be insulted. If I ever had the nerve to tell her that her family has a severe odor problem she'd be furious with me for a very long time.

I suggest serious introspection. Try to take a look at your house as if you've never been there before. My house is messy but unerneath it's clean and the clutter is cleared about once a week or so. Animals / pets do add odor issues to your home. We have two cats and have to vacuum their hair all the time.

If CPS has come to your home and the school counselor is involved it is probably because other kids are either making fun of your son to his face or behind his back. Kids may be saying that they don't want to go near him, partner up with him for projects, sit by him at lunch, etc - becuase he smells. You can only be hleping your child if you help him get cleaned up.

A death in the family can be upsetting, my kids watched their beloved grandfather get very ill and pass away last year. They were very close to him and we visited him at the hospital and at hospic up to the week he died. My kids were impacted, of course, but they had no regrets since they got to see him very close to the end and tell him that they loved him. you need to helop you son find closure - counseling is always a good option even if it's only a few times.

Just note - y ou can only help your child if you can help him get clean and smell good. It will help his self-esteem. Encourage him, when he comes out of the shower all skcrubbed up tell him he smells good, looks sharp, etc. Kids rise to our expectation that we set. Let him know you have high expectations for him becuase you know he is capable of meetin them - and he'll achieve them.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Why do you need outside sources to tell you what is "normal"child behavior? You are the parent - clearly you must know (because you said it in your own words) that your son's school problems are at least partially related to his lack of hygiene. This is something that can be easily fixed! I don't get it - what is the big deal about bathing every day and wearing clean clothes? Don't YOU bathe every day and enjoy wearing freshly laundered things? It really shouldn't be open for discussion, just integrated into the daily routine, then it will become a habit. As far as the cats go, I have had cats for the past 25 years, and guess what? CATS DON'T SMELL. They are fastidiously clean. Yes, litter boxes DO smell if they aren't cleaned regularly, but you said these are outdoor cats which means they use the great outdoors as their toilet. If they are unneutered males and your house smells, it means they are spraying inside to mark their territory. Either get them fixed or get rid of them! As for the clutter, I think this is something that many people struggle with, but if you have too many possessions to comfortably fit in your house, then you have too many possessions, period. Go through everything and purge, purge, purge. If you haven't used something in a year, get rid of it. Your original question was "what can you do?" Well, there's plenty you can and should do, so you'd better get cracking.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

K. - Yes, boys are funky. I am the mother of two and I have 4 younger brothers. I completely get where you are coming from on the hygeine issue. In fact, I remember I didn't want to brush my teeth for quite some time when I was in about 5/6th grade, so right around your son's age. My mother did not force it, and she certainly didn't do my laundry. That was my responsability. Maybe CPS woulda been called on me 20 years ago if that was the "in" thing to do back then!
So, now you know that I understand where you are coming from...100%!
But, you need some ideas on what to do so that your son is not taken from you. Wouldn't you just feel awful if they took him out of your house because of "clutter" and your cats??
#1 - Yes, he needs a shower every day. It sounds like your son's father is not involved but that you have a fiance. So, you tell your son that he will be getting up every morning at a set time and heading to the shower. If he can't get himself into the shower than you (or fiance) will do that for him. Forcibly if necessary mama. I tell my younger son that he can either get himself in the shower or he can have me put him there, clothes on and everything. He is always naked pretty quick. Buy him deodorant, have him put it on.
#2 - Get rid of the clothes that have rips or stains. personally, I don't understand why parents let their kids run around looking like rag-a-muffins. I understand he is a boy, again, mother of two, sister of 4! But, I don't remember any of my brothers running around looking a mess. And, for my boys, when their pants get holes or their shirts are stained, they get tossed! I know it's expensive to buy clothing, but I also know that you can hit target, Walmart, Kmart, garage sales, craigslist, 2nd hand stores, Value Village...ect and buy things for $5 that are not stained or holey.
#3 - I am a pet owner too. We have a dog. Sometimes he gets a bit funky. That means that he is going to get a shower and the dog bed will get tossed (we just did that a couple of days ago. He kept "marking" it! grr...) My house never smells like dog. My girlfriend has 5 cats (wierdo!) and her house NEVER smells like funk. They could still be trying to save your feelings. Maybe the cats need to go. Kid vs cats. Who wins?
#4- you may have to give your stuff to goodwill. It sucks, I know. My husband is a clutter bug as well, but I make sure he just does that in the garage. He would tell me he doesn't have that much stuff out there, but it was dangerous to walk through the garage! Seriously! These past couple of weeks he has been cleaning it out and I have brought TWO van loads of stuff to goodwill. You just have to buckle down and get rid of stuff that is not useful. Again "stuff" vs. Kid. Your kid should win.
Unfortunately it sounds like CPS is gonna be riding your a$$ until you get a couple of things under control. So, read through all of your responses, and some of them do seem a bit harsh, but read through all of these ideas as to what you can do to better the situation....and then do it. You do not want to have "that" kid at school (the dirty, smelly, uncared for kid) and you do not want to be "those" parents (who lose guardianship for something that could be fixed!)
Good Luck to you

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I understand trying to teach independence, but I think it's too early for your son. Ultimately, if he won't take the reigns...he's not ready...and you should make him! In my opinion, the FIRST time cps was called, he should have been forced. If he is showering every other day, I really can't imagine how he smells so badly. We have animals and I've never had a comment, or strange look about smells. My parents now have dogs, a rabbit, cats, chickens, a donkey, and goats on their small piece of land and in their home...and they never smell like animals. I know a woman who says their house, is cluttered. I didn't think cluttered when I walked in. I thought out of control and unsafe. I would NEVER say anything, because I wouldn't know what to say. Your friends might be the same way.

Perhaps, because you're IN the can't really see it. Kind of like trying to look, at your nose. You're too close to it. The fact is, multiple people have complained about your son. You have been complained about. The common denominator here, is your family and home. People are so hesitant to complain about certain things, because they fear of harming a family. Most things, go un-reported, becuase people are logical and can see another side of things. I've never met a person, that wants to report, or cause trouble. If CPS is being called, I have to think it's bad enough, for genuine concern. Take a step back, look at your situation, see it through a stranger's eyes. You are explaining away hygiene issues, that don't have to be here. Home issues, that don't have to be there. And I'm sorry, that this is so harsh, but...'re making excuses, for a situation, that can and should be fixed. One more call to CPS and you could be in real trouble. Why not just make him shower, put out his clothes, get rid of things you don't need, clean the litter box more often? Why do these things have to stay the same? Is it worth getting your family taken apart, or trouble with the family court system? Time to stop complaining and clean things up in your family and home.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

wow, where to begin? first, i agree with many others that you are so focused on excuses and denial, when you need to take a hard look at yourself and come up with some solutions...

you say you want to teach him "independence and good decision making skills", but it doesn't sounds like you're really "teaching" anything, just letting him do whatever he wants, no matter the consequence. my boys aren't that old yet, and i'm sure most 10 year olds don't have personal hygiene at the top of their priority list, but i just find it strange that your son doesn't bathe and change his clothes as part of a daily routine. my 4yo and 7yo sons know that we bathe at night, we put our dirty(as in worn that day) clothes in the laundry basket, and we pick out clean clothes to wear - we also brush our teeth, wash hands after using the restroom, and comb our hair before going out. are these things they WANT to do? idk, prob not, but it's part of the routine, as is cleaning up our messes. teaching our kids sometimes means telling them to do things over and over again until they do it without being told, not leaving them to figure things out for themselves while potentially suffering tremendous consequences(you're REALLY gonna let CPS take your kid b/c you think it's taking away his independence to tell him to take a shower?). as far as his clothes go, get rid of what doesn't fit, set up a space for dirty clothes, and tell him not to take clothes from the dirty pile - he MUST wear clean clothes to school everyday, i'm truly just boggled at how common sense the solution to that problem is.

on the smell issue, i have four indoor dogs, and people are ALWAYS commenting on how shocked they are that my house doesn't smell of pets. we vaccum the carpet EVERYDAY and make sure our dogs are clean and healthy. for the life of me, i can't figure out how 3 OUTDOOR cats make the inside of your house smell...

on the clutter issue, clean your house up. ask for help if you need it. GET RID OF WHAT YOU DON'T NEED. i grew up in a very small home, and we didn't have "stuff" all over the place. i live in a fairly large home now, and don't even use most of our storage space b/c really, how much stuff does anyone really need? back your vehicle up to your house, open the back/trunk, and LOAD IT UP with whatever could be donated. get a few trash bags and fill them up with whatever needs to be thrown out. after you get all the trash/donations out, THEN clean up and put away whatever is left. if you don't have enough space for what's left, make a second run through for more stuff to donate.

it's time to stop being stubborn and making excuses, set a great example for your son, you will get FAR more out of a clean home with your son in it than you will out of being "right" and living alone with your stuff while your son is in foster care.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

Have him start showering every day, and if your nose can smell him when he comes home from school, have him shower again that night. Hormonal changes can be what's causing the extra smell, and he could benefit physically and emotionally from 2 showers a day if necessary. Go through his clothing, donate things that are too small or permanently stained. Make sure all the clothes he is keeping are clean (sometimes kids will shove dirty things into the drawers with clean!).
Organize your belongings, and get rid of things that you don't need. Put the things you are keeping into containers that can be stacked in closets or under beds.
Outdoor cats shouldn't make your house smell like pets. Have them groomed, make sure they are using only the litter boxes for a potty, and have your carpets steam cleaned if you can. Your house should not smell that strong like cats. Maybe they are peeing places they shouldn't??
Most importantly, talk to your son about how crucial it is to keep clean. You are right, stains are not a big deal. They DO happen. However, for CPS to get involved and stay involved, there must've been more to it that a few stains. Make sure your son understands that good hygiene is VERY important, and if he is at an age where he doesn't care, then he needs you to guide him until he can do for himself. If he is neglecting his hygiene, he may be neglecting other things also. He needs to talk to a counselor, and if the information isn't "getting to the right people", go to the school and talk to them in person. Get him an appointment with the school counselor. Stay in constant contact with his teachers and counselor. Stay on top of him about hygiene. Show him how much soap he needs to use, how much shampoo. I know this seems simple, but what if this is as simple as he is not using enough soap or shampoo in the shower?! Make sure he is using deodorant. Remind him to brush, shower, put dirty clothes in hamper, etc.
Good luck with it and I wish you the best! :)

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answers from Chicago on

Maybe your perception of the issue is quite different than the perception coming from another source and that's why they're worried?

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answers from San Diego on

You're in denial and your whole post is full of excuses.
Friends are usually nice and will not tell you to your face that your house smells of pets---thats why they are called friends. If the CPS lady said something about the smell then there is a definite issue with pet odor.
Kids don't need to smell. They need to be bathed every day if they do. And deodorant everyday! I am shocked that you had to come on a public forum to hear that advice. Clean looking clothes are to be worn every day-if his pants are not stained or visually dirty just throw them in the dryer to freshen them up a bit. Since CPS is involved YOU need to step up and correct the situation.
Good luck to you!

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answers from Joplin on

I have a 10 year old...she may not be that into whether she is clean or not, but I can promise you I am right there at her elbow saying you need to wash...with soap, you need to brush your teeth, you cannot wear me a nag but my kid is presentable at school...if she wants to wear play clothes on the big deal.
You cannot clean clutter, get rid of what you do not need...things do not bring happiness.
I have 3 indoor only cats, I LOVE my cats, my house does not smell, I clean the litter box daily. If cats have a bladder infection or other UTI they will urinate on piles of laundry or on "stuff" cat urine smell is one of the strongest most offensive hard to get rid of odors, if you live there you are most likely immune to the smell.
I am not saying that maybe they are not over reacting, but sometimes when we are too close to the situation and do not see the seriousness of it, I watch Hoarders on A&E and most of the time people are arguing that Everything is fine and they are living in the equivilant of a trash heap, that is not fair to a child or to animals.
I suggest you ask for assistance, I suggest when suggestions are made by people who weild a power to remove your child from your home instead of being defensive you make changes instead of excuses.

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answers from Charlotte on


6 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I would do what it takes to get your house cleaned up and de-cluttered, introduce deodorant to your son and insist on clean clothes daily, and put the pets outside or find them new homes. CPS won't get involved unless there was a legitimate claim made--they have tons of cases and would love to not have to come out and check on people's houses to make sure they are clean enough etc. Do what CPS says and clean it up and tell the school again-that you are working with your son on his cleanliness and you would love their support.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

clearly if CPS is involved you need to spend less time writting novels on public forums and more time cleaning your house and son. I get that he is 10, but 10 is not 16 or 18. it's 10, you are still sooo responsible for him and his hygene. If he were 16, 18 or 21 your post would make more since. At what point does a ten year old not need looking after. If he has a hygene problem and it is this bad, at this point you are responsible for it. A bath everyday, clean clothes, brushed teeth, combed hair and deoderant. How come you have not done this, esp if this has BEEN a problem.
Now that CPS is involved how can you question what to do... JUST DO WHAT THEY TOLD YOU.

If your kid stink, your house stinks and you have clutter coming out of your house then YOU DO HAVE an issue.... i feel like you are in denial about what is going on and you are avoiding the having to do anything. Clean your kid, clean your house. SIMPLE.

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answers from New London on

It might be normal for kids to have hygiene issues, but it is your job to get him to school bathed and clean and not smelly. Smelly kids can't smell themselves. They also will deal with being bullied their whole lives. I remember two kids in gradeschool that were very smelly and it affected them and stigmatized them all through elem, middle and high school. It was so sad. And all they needed was a shower and clean clothes. :( Also, if your friends think your house smells a little like cats, that means your house really smells like cats. Gross. Please ask CPS what you need to do so that they don't have to worry about your kid. Are you cats fixed? I hope so. If not, they could marking their territory all over your house. I had two kittens in my bathroom for one day and holy heck they stunk up the place so bad I swore I would never get a cat or kitten. Their urine is so powerful. But I also grew up with an outside cat that only went outdoors and the house did not smell because she never peed indoors. If they pee indoors it is like moving mountains to get that smell out. Your son should not be smelling at school. I am so sad for him. edited to add, make sure he uses a wash cloth in the bath, it makes a world or difference even on your feet and toes and underarms and in the groin area. gets the dead skin cells that grow bacteria off.

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answers from Kansas City on

I have a ten year old son, and it's non-negotiable in our house. He showers every night and that's it. It has nothing to do with whether or not I respect his independence, it has to do with the fact that I am his mother. He will shower every night.

My job is to make sure that the sheets are clean and he has all of the tools he needs to take care of himself. That includes toothbrush/paste, deoderant, soap, whatever.

Clearing the clutter is hard. Break down the task into smaller pieces. Pick a room/closet/area/table and tackle it. You'd be surprised at how much difference taking just a small step can make. Then move on to the bigger tasks. I'm taking on my storage room this weekend... not looking forward to it, but I know it will feel good when I'm done.

Good luck, keep us posted!

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answers from Boston on

Sorry but my son is almost 9 and I make sure that before he leaves for school he is A. fed B. Showered (I often must supervise this) D. his hair is combed and his clothes are clean E. His asthma medication is taken and F. his teeth are brushed (I also have to supervise this)

I have 2 dogs and an indoor cat and my house does not smell. My friends that come over are shocked when they see the cat walking around the house. If you have outside cats there should be no smell at all inside of your home

Clean UP! how hard is it. If you don't have room for it get rid of it! It must be pretty bad inside if they have said you need to clean up because I had DCFS over while in the process of moving and had boxes and boxes everywhere and not a thing was ever mentioned about the state of my home. They expect to see some mess (toys, a few dishes in the sink, etc) when you have kids so it must be more then just clutter.

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answers from Salinas on

I agree that now that CPS is involved you need to get very serious about this. Nothing else matters except doing what they say you need to do to make things right. Having your boy decide when to take showers and wear clean clothes is not fostering independence it's adding to his troubles. We have an ongoing joke in our house that whenever I tell my eight year GIRL to bathe she immediately says "But I just took one". At least every other day is required and honestly, she really doesn't get that dirty. The bottom line is most kids just don't want to take time out of their day to clean in any way until they're a bit older. That doesn't mean you allow them to have poor hygeine. We have to go through her clothes at least twice a year to be sure stuff fits or she'd be in highwaters constantly. I assure you as others have said around 11-12 things change, they grow up and notice the other sex and then they turn into neat freaks. The boys start showering everyday and I swear my 12 year old girl smells like a flower 24/7. Your job now is to make him shower and wear clean clothes that fit. Clean up your house (outdoor cats do not need litterboxes so there should be no chance of smell) declutter, throw stuff away, do whatever it takes to please CPS. This is serious. Do what they want so you don't run the risk of losing custody of your child!

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answers from Detroit on

I know it may not seem like it but CPS is trying to help you and your son. they just want a good life for both you and and your son. it may be very hard for you to see the problem since you are in the situation and your family and friends are use to the situation and it may be how you grew up but obviously what you are doing is not working. Even if you don't agree with it and you may never agree with it, you really don't have a choice, CPS is involved and will probably stayed involved until you clean it up and your son.
I know you think it is normal for him to have a hygiene issue, but most likely 95% of the kids in his class have decent hygiene, there is no reason at all that he shouldn't have good hygiene too. He is only 10, not 16 or 17 ready to be on his own. So unfortunately it is your job to require him to be clean. Buy some deodorant, help him with the bath, clothes, etc. Just telling him wont work, you must assist and help. These are the years that you teach him the proper way to do things in order to succeed not just expect him to know it all and do everything. It is probably distracting to the class and other kids if his hygiene issue is that bad, which is not fair to any of them either.

Regarding your home, scoop the cat litter every day, spray a pet deodorizer in the house, and neuter the cats if they are not already. Does one of them urinate on stuff or throw up on stuff? I have two cats of my own and I know I don't notice the smell at all, but if I'm away for a week and come back I usually notice it some.
Regarding the clutter, you don't really have a choice, you need to get rid of stuff and store the other stuff away. It may be difficult but really what choice do you have. If you resist it or keep the clutter, is that going to help the situation? Is that going to end cps involvement? nope.. so it is time to change it.

good luck

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answers from Pocatello on

Well this is what I think if the state is actually coming into your home and sees a problem and the school with all the kids in it sees your child to be a little more unclean than most other kids then it means there IS a problem. If your house smelt clean, looked clean and well kept then the state wouldn't be getting involved and that's just a fact. Now I'm not saying in away you are a bad mom or anything like that so please don't take offense. But here right now you are being given a chance to make some big changes in your home and in your sons life so take advantage of it. I know that kids are stubborn and sometimes don't want to do things but that's why we are the parents. We can teach them how to be clean and healthy. If I never told my daughter to brush her teeth she probably wouldn't ever do it and no I don't have to hover over her in the bathroom every day but I do have to ask before we leaving in the morning "did you brush?" Then she runs into the bathroom to do it. Same with baths, from day one my kids got one every night so it is routine for them. That's just what they do, take a bath before bed. And for clothes....dirty ones go in the hamper after being worn. Never on the floor or back in their rooms so the option to wear them the next day just isn't there. Making some small changes like this can help your son be more clean and will also probably help with self esteem too. So make these changes for the both of you.

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answers from Houston on

It's a cause for concern when children are unkempt and dirty. Those in authoritative positions look for warning signs and don't call CPS lightly and so there it is. I don't know if maybe they have suspisions due to his behavior as well... is he withdrawn, shy, picked on, awkward socially? Is his manner of dress not only unclean, but sloppy, pants too short, shirts wrongly buttoned, long, bedhead messy dirty hair? Things that build up can look like neglect and/or poverty, so it's only right for people to probe to see if there is a potential problem in the child's best interest.

What you really need to do is get your child to bathe, brush his teeth, comb his hair every day, and probably introduce him to deodorant. Yes, kids can be stubborn, but it's the parents job to teach them healthy oral and body hygiene and to be examples of cleanliness and order, and to enforce them at this young age. He will become a better person for it, his social life is already suffering, do all you can to give him a better and happier life. I wonder if his self-esteem, study habits and other areas of his emotional state are distressed as well?

I would say clean your house... if you have tons of stuff, then get rid of a lot of it. I would bet that most of it is clutter that could be thrown out or donated. You will feel a lot less stress and have less problems if you started there. I don't know if your home is just cluttered with laundry and mail to sort through and such, or if it also is dirty with trash and food waste all over, and just stuff everywhere like a hoarder problem. I mean, it happens and it's heartbreaking and it's neglect, and if so, then it would be very helpful if you sought some counseling yourself to help you work through it. If you need family and friends rampaging through your home to clean it, then you have a problem.

About the pipe, it could be innocent like you say, or it could be a drug pipe, both exist, and CPS workers see it every single day, so it's not far fetched in their eyes. I think that was the straw that broke the camels back so that CPS would come to your home.

I don't know why outdoor cats would cause a problem, unless they are also inside making a smell. If your friends say they smell pet smell, then you need to do something about that. They may be marking your home and outside of your home, and sometimes as home owners who smell it every day, we don't sense it anymore, but the CPS worker will get a strong wiff of it when he/she comes by.

Basically, do all that you can to get things right. Enforcing cleanliness isn't taking away your child's independence... it's giving him tool he needs so he has greater independence and a greater chance. We have rules to help us thrive.

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answers from Eugene on

I don't think that there is even a question to what you need to do.... If CPS wasn't involved than you might be able to ask that, but being that they are already involved you have no choice but to make the changes they ask you to make so that you don't continue having to deal with them. Seems simple to me....whether or not you are playing the situation down or the school is exaggerating it doesn't matter, what matters is your son. It is your responsiblity as a parent to make sure your child is clean and in clothes that fit. If something doesn't fit you get rid of it, and while you are supposed to teach your child independence, it sounds like he isn't ready to make those decisions....and at 9 I would think you still need to moniter it. If it was my child I wouldn't want him to be teased at school for his "hygene" so I would be stricter at home for his own good (there are plenty of other things kids get teased about that you don't have control over) Also, no house is ever too small to have the neccessities. So if your house is cluttered, it sounds like you need to have a garage sale, stuff doesn't make you a family, and if CPS thinks its an issue you need to get it under control for you sons sake. I am not even going to talk about the animals because everyone feels differently about their pets, but what I will say is if you can smell them more than just faintly you need to fix the problem, whether it's cleaning better or finding a new home for them....It's a hard situation and I feel for you, but you have to take this seriously because now that CPS is involved you HAVE to whether its fair or not..... I would work as hard as I could to not have them in my life! Good luck, hopefully you find a solution that works for you.

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answers from Philadelphia on

It is called CYS here in Pa. They came to my house this past week. My daughter told her friend (who told the school) that her dad hit her. He has probably only hit her twice in her almost 14 yrs and she deserved marks. I tell you this story because they came to my house and dropped the case. I have two cats. You would not know it. The lady was very impressed with my house (and i did not know she was coming). I am not trying to be mean. If your house was clean/son clean/litter box clean..... they would have closed the case.

Make sure you are cleaning the litter boxes daily. I say boxes because with three cats i think you should have two. Make sure that your son is showering daily. He needs to cool it on the stained clothing, he is not a toddler. Stains happen occasionally....not daily :( I am sure if you work on a few things CPS will leave you be. I think they are trying to help you.

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answers from Dallas on

hello,sorry to hear you are going threw all this.but i feel really bad for ur son:( first off im not here to bash you but you are the mother it is ur job to make sure he gets his shower everynite before bed. if the cats is causing problems then they need to go ur child comes before anything are anybody....throw everything away you dont use....clean the house up and keep it that way,stop smoking in the house and around ur child it aint healthy for him and his what it takes to save ur child and his safety:) wish yall luck once again not tryin to be rude

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answers from Atlanta on

Well, I think CPS probably came to your house because of the mention of a pipe. Honestly, if they have time to make visits because a 10 year old boy appears dirty on occasion, then you must live in a fabulous area where all the families are happy and no children are being abused or neglected! The CPS worker does sound rather dim.

However, he is 10 and YOU are his mother. I'm all for teaching our kids independence and giving them appropriate choices. For example, my 4 year old routinely has fits about wearing socks, putting on a jacket, etc. It's quite chilly here today and was about 40 this morning, and he refused to put on socks or his jacket. As I always do in this situation, I put his jacket and some socks in his backpack, and his dad said he had the socks on and was asking about the jacket before they got to school. ONE thing that is non-negotiable and always will be in my home is bathing. You need to bathe him every day. My children are also not allowed and will never be allowed to wear the same, dirty clothes to school two days in a row. Even if he doesn't like it -that needs to be a rule. Basically, every day he needs to bathe, wash his hair, brush his teeth and put on clean underwear, socks and clothing. Some of those can be argued with, but in this case it needs to be on a daily basis until it's routine. At his age, there's a good chance he also needs deoderant -is this part of the issue? You need to make him wear it, even if it means you watch him put it on every morning. Again -he's 10, not 16. He's still a kid. As far as you "catching him" wearing the same clothes -why don't you help him pick out something to wear the night before school every evening? Make sure his dirty clothes are in the laundry hamper. Tell him there's now a house rule about his clothing and he's not allowed to wear certain things to school and he certainly cannot wear the same thing two days in a row. It's perfectly normal for him to come home dirty, but not to leave that way.

As far as your clutter -why are you keeping all of this "stuff" that's packed up and not being used but is taking up space that you don't have? Either get a storage unit or get rid of it.

Cats -I love cats, and I'm wondering why, if yours are outdoors, there would be any odor? Are they unneutered toms? If so, they need to be fixed immediately before they continue to breed more strays since they're outdoors and that will also help with the spraying. Do they stay inside at night or something and have a litter box in your house? With 3 cats, you need to be sure to use multi-cat litter and change it out every other day. You may want to get one of those "self-cleaning" litter boxes, but regardless -with 3 of them -you need to change it constantly or it will stink.

So -I do think you need to take some steps to get the house and the cats in order and make sure your son is clean every morning and bathing daily. He's still a child, and children do go through these stages, but that doesn't mean you need to go along with it.

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answers from Los Angeles on

If everything you say is true, good grief, it sounds like you are being targeted unnecessarily. I am sorry for all the moms that responded harshly to you.
I have 3 kids and own a small business, as well as my husband coaches my kid's sports, and frankly I think most moms would agree that sometimes the laundry just piles up to the roof, the mail sits in stacks on the dinner table. We had a virus go through our family last week, so there is so much paperwork on the kitchen table that we are eating on the Little Tikes picnic bench table until I can sort through everything. We live in an apartment, and we just don't have enough room!
I totally understand your plight. My kids come home smelly and dirty from school....they are boys!!! And I have one boy who tends to have favorite outfits and would wear them dirty 3 days in a row if I let him, but I don't.
If someone really wanted to, I'm sure they could send CPS over and they would have a field day with the mud from soccer cleats that is ground into our carpets because I haven't had enough money to hire a carpet cleaner to come over yet. They could have a fit because I ran out the door so fast getting two kids to school that there are 3 bottles on the counter still needing to be washed. They could boo-hoo me because our laundry room's washing machines were broken for 3 days this week and the sheets haven't been washed in several weeksm and my plan was to wash them 3 days ago. But my kids are happy, they get hot meals on the table, and help with their homework after school so they can continue to get straight A's, and play sports. They get to play with their baby sister at night and we always watch Wheel of Fortune together and read books before bedtime....instead of me frantically cleaning up every single little ounce of dust.

Anyway, I could go on and on, but my point is that I think people might be overreacting to your situation. You should get the tobacco out of your house though, if you are trying to quit, you don't want your son thinking tobacco is okay for him later in life either.
Really, anyone could have called CPS, and I don't think you are legally required to let them in your house.
If I were you, I would make a phone call to Home School Legal Defense Association. I am not currently homeschooling, but I know this organization is wonderful and they could point you in the right direction. A lot of homeschoolers have neighbors who call CPS for whatever reason, and HSLDA can let you know your rights and give you helpful info.
I think the website is
I am pretty sure they will at least give you some resources, even though you aren't a homeschooler and don't qualify for HSLDA's legal help.

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answers from Los Angeles on

My friend used to have to hover over her oldest boy to make sure he got clean. It was more for her nose, she could care less about anyone else. lol. Not to make light of the situation but she had a point. She said if she couldn't handle him being smelly, then how would other people deal with it? It was true, other people would be a lot meaner then just his mom standing over him (like the kids at school).
If you start hovering over him, making sure he gets clean, maybe he will want that independance even more and do what you ask of him. The thing is, this problem is singling him out, and while you have given him independance, how is he actually benefiting from it? Great he has control over his hygiene, but he has problems at school, CPS is now involved in his life (which it could get worse). Put an end to it, and tell him what needs to be done. Maybe in another year he will be capable of doing all of it on his own, but he's not ready for the independance right now.
I have had a lot of pets throughout my life, and the biggest problem I have found is that pet owners do not air out their house. Make sure you get fresh air circulating in your house. That way its not a super strong smell when a non pet owner walks in. What also helped me was having an odor neutralizer.
Im not saying you have to give all your posessions away but there has got to be some stuff you can donate or give to someone else that would help with the clutter. I hate having stuff I don't use or really need take up space in my house, and it does make it look messy. Sure, there are a lot of things I wish I could have kept, or I liked, but if I don't have the room for it, how would I really enjoy it? If it's in a box somewhere I can't see it to like it, I can't use it to like it, I can't wear it to like it. I guess your only other option would be to rent a storage space.
I hope the situation gets better, I just think you have more control over it then you realize. Good Luck.

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answers from McAllen on

Dear K.,
I am not the most organized, heck, I'm messy, I shamelessly wear the same jeans twice before putting them in the laundry and will have no contemplations in leaving dishes in the sink until later that night, however, I do think you might be a little bit in denial.
I know boys don't like to bathe everyday, and it might not be necessary, but your son, sounds like a very active little boy and maybe he does need to bathe everyday, whether he likes it or not. As for your pets, if your son's residency is at stake here, I would give them away no questions asked.
As for your storage issue, if you don't have space for it, you probably don't need it, get rid of it! (I know its easier said than done, specially because some items may have sentimental value, but at the end of the day you have to choose what to throw and what to keep)
To me, because of my personal experiences with me CPS can be a bunch of ridiculous uptight bunch of people, who are more into judging others than into caring for kids, but... the sooner you get rid of them, the better! They can make things very difficult for you. I like Beth's idea of making the flannel shirt a pillow and also see the need for you to declutter your home, I know it might not be what you want to hear, but we are interested in you keeping your son.
Keep us posted, Good Luck!

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answers from Chicago on

Read, re-read and read again and again Laurie A.'s post. There is ALOT you can do. And you must start doing it now, for the sake of your little boy. I feel so sorry for him. Usually it's teens who go through the phase you're talking about. Your little boy needs your help desperately.

And I would add one more thing: STOP the pipe smoking and cigarette smoking inside the house. I am still amazed that people who smoke don't realize how bad they/their clothes/their home really smell. Pipe smoke residue is the worst! I grew up in a smoking home (pipe included), and when I hit my teen years I was totally disgusted by how awful my clothing smelled, even when it was washed with care. Smoke gets everywhere! I would bet that a big part of his smell is the smoke residue.

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answers from San Francisco on

I'm a neat freak so don't understand clutter. Why do some people have so MUCH STUFF? But I know everyone is different. I have to wonder if having a cluttered home though and it sounds like a smell isn't really motivating your son to be clean and neat himself. Kids do follow the example their parents set and while you likely are personally clean in your dress etc, I think a neat and presentable home provides an example to kids and a sense of pride. Also, I remember starting to shower everyday when I was 10 so likely he does need it daily... You sound like a bright and reasonable person but maybe like someone said, you're too close to see that there is a problem. Take a weekend and clean house. Likely you don't need half of the stuff cluttering your home. I bet you like your home better with less useless stuff.

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answers from Jacksonville on

I would think that the first step would be to require him to take a nightly bath/shower. Sure, every single night might not happen. But you should make it part of his evening routine (unless after school activities don't allow the 10 minutes before bed to get it done). The next thing you need to do, regardless of whether or not he likes it, is to take 5 minutes before he goes to bed and have him choose his clothes for school the next day. Then, YOU look at them and either deem them acceptable or require him to make another selection.

It really seems that simple, to me. (I don't know about the house cleaning stuff, not that CPS is involved... but as far as the school calling CPS in the future, if the reasons were hygiene related, this should solve it).

I realize that you are trying to get your son to learn to make good choices, and you are okay with allowing him to hang onto favorite items that may be outgrown. I have a 12 yr old son, so I understand completely. BUT, you still have to remain the authority about it, and have the final say. He doesn't want to toss his favorite flannel shirt. I get that. So let him keep it. But he is only allowed to wear it around the house. My son has TONS of clothes that fit that very description.. or they have holes or whatever... yes, he will come out of his room ready to go somewhere with them on.... But that is where I, as his mom, have to say "uh-uh. nope. Go change. You cannot wear that to the store/school/church," etc. Once you set some of those boundaries,THAT is how he'll learn to choose more wisely. He will learn what is and is not acceptable for public consumption, so to speak. It's okay if he doesn't want to donate it or toss it out... don't make him. But you have to draw a line about what he wears to school. At this point, you really have no choice. And it's the same with getting himself clean. My son, just this year, has actually gotten where he prefers to get up and take a shower in the mornings before school. I'm fine with that. Although, sometimes if he has gotten really sweaty at karate class or playing outside I'll make him take it before bed. Then, in the morning, it is his option if he wants to take another or not. Five-ten minutes before he leaves for school in the morning, ask the questions they don't like: Did you brush your teeth? Did you wash your hands after breakfast? Did you comb your hair (if you can't tell by looking)? My son was TERRIBLE about not combing his hair.. now, he wants a hairbrush in the car so he can brush it several times before we get to school, lol. So, yeah.... all that stuff does kick in during the 'tween years. But right now, you cannot afford to wait until he just gets it on his own. You have to ENSURE that it gets done daily.

Good luck. And hang in there... your son might hate it now, but in a short time, you won't have to do this anymore. And he will be annoying YOU asking for his own blowdryer, cologne, deodorant, scented shower gels, etc.

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answers from Dallas on

Laurie A. is spot on. I've got friends who are lawyers who work with CPS, and they'll stop visiting once the problems are solved. You need to make some major life changes.

You're his mom. Fostering responsibility is fine and dandy, but this is a problem that you need to step up and BE MOM for. He's still very much a child, and still needs that guidance from you.

He may not like it, but it's what he needs!

And to add to what Laurie said, hold a garage sale on the first Saturday of the month. You can get rid of alot of clutter, and make some money too!

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answers from Houston on

You have some awesome answers to help you here.

I'd like to address communication with the school ... its a bureaucracy like everything else so if you son is having issues with his grief or want to inform them about an important issue, please write a letter for his file and share with principal, teachers, nurse and counselor. You HAVE TO BE THE ADVOCATE for your son.

I dont understand why your family is in charge of his hygiene and you are not. If you meant that they are helping you ... share some of the ideas you have here and let them help you remind him of what he needs to do.

The last point may seem harsh .. but you are not seeing your role in this. You will not get support from school, state even friends with this much denial and excuse making. It sounds like family and friends want to help you so please let them and try to see how you can make some life changes that will be sustainable. I know about this because I have been there. Best of luck.

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answers from New York on

the state can be tough.. You are the mom.. so you need to sit down with your son and let him know that #1. he needs to take a shower every morning no matter what.. he needs to wear deodrant... this is a must.. as soon as he gets out of the shower.. he needs to brush his teeth.. you can also use a body spray on his clothes.. just a small spray... to make them smell fresh.. tell your son he has to do this.. otherwise you are going to get in trouble. ... as for the cats.. use a litter box.. make sure you change the litter frequently, put a plug in near the litter box, try to keep the clutter neat.. i am not really neat either.. but it is important in this instance... you are the mom. so you need to make your son stay clean.. or his body will smell and who is getting in trouble.. you... don't let this happen... good luck... ask your son to go with you to the store.. to get good deodrant.. let him pick it out.. my son uses axe.. it smells great.. good luck

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answers from Santa Fe on

You have a lot of great responses. I have to tell you when I walk into a friend's house that has cat odor, I smell it right away and I do not say anything! I don't want to be rude. That smell is awful to me and I think once you have cat smell in your house maybe you stop being able to smell it. Besides making sure litter boxes are clean, which I'm sure you do, the smell might be in your carpet where a cat had a past accident. We took care of a friend's dog who peed in our house and the smell was VERY hard to get rid of. I cleaned that giant spot on the carpet MANY times and used a lot of different products and finally the smell eventually disappeared. Good luck. PS - your boy sounds normal and great and good luck getting him on a daily regimen of shower and always wearing clean clothes!!! (My son also hates doing this!)

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answers from Phoenix on

Thank you for taking the time write a long and informative essay about your son and living conditions.....BUT, what EXACTLY is CPS charging you with? Smelly kid syndrome? Dirty kid? Unkempt house? 3 outdoor cats is not illegal.

I'm confused about the actual charge?? I realize that information was lost and not forwarded, but that sounds like it got cleared up.

Have you taken your son to his pediatrician or medical doctor? What does he/she say about his body odor and smell? I would forego ALL online research and family suggestions and document that you took him to be check by a doctor because there seems to be concern about his hygiene. Maybe he has a medical condition that makes him smell worse than the average kid? Because from the sounds of it, he is getting bathed plenty. And so what if some of his clothes are too small?

I think you need to work with them rather than dismiss or excuse everything they recommend.

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answers from Harrisburg on

See if you can pack all the things you don't readily use into bins and store away in your garage or offsite. You seem to need organization, not throw stuff away. Then encourage your son or help him take better care of himself. Why should CPS be that concerned about his hygiene, not sure, but then again, seem like when kids are under their jurisdiction, life becomes a bit unrealistic to those involved.

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answers from New York on

It seems like there's a lot giong on and you have an explanation for all of it. Outside cats should not make your house smell, they are outside. If you and fiance are smoking tobacco in the house, maybe you ought to take the pipe and ciggies outside. Get rid of the clutter. Stop making excuses
As for your son, when a kid is around puberty age, they need to shower daily. I know he is too old for you to bathe him or watch him shower, but at that age, some kids don't actually wash in the shower. If he is stinky despite showering, that's probably what happens. Is school or CPS saying that your son looks dirty, or just his clothes? Yes, kids get dirty at lunch and recess, and working in an elementary school, I see those kids and the ones who come to school in dirty clothes and reeking of cigarette smoke, you can tell the difference. Make sure your kid is showering and shampooing daily, brushing his teeth - if you're saying you know he has a hygiene problem, that is separate from the pet smells and clutter. If he's not washing himself properly, make sure that he is. I know independence is best, but if you can't tell whether he's brushing his teeth, watch him do it. If you can't trust him to wash in the shower, send fiance into the bathroom with him. I'm not sure what you mean that your family is doing their best to make sure he's clean - if you're the parent and he lives with you, it's your responsibility. Do you mean other relatives watch him during your work hours and you are not there to know if he's showering or going to school clean? I think doing less research and doing more cleaning would be of help to you. I can assure you that while most tweens go thru a grungy stage, it is not to the point of CPS getting involved with most people so what's going on with your son is NOT the norm. Whether all of this merits CPS being involved is irrelevent - the fact is that they ARE involved and you need to not put yourself at risk for them taking further action. CPS doesnt get involved for kids spilling lunch on their shirt, something more IS going on.
Good luck

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answers from Washington DC on

Its true that everyone has a different 'clutter/clean' meter. My husband and I are set differently, and he's CONSTANTLY on me about spaces that I consider mine. Be that as it may, you are now on radar, because someone thought that your son's appearance one day didn't meet THEIR 'clean' meter so now your house is under attack of CPS's 'clutter' meter. The best way to get CPS out of the situation is to work with them. Keep a notebook of their comments, and make a noted attempt to deal with their comments.

For the house being cluttered - CPS is all about documenting and SEEING improvements.
- setup a chore chart that is displayed in the kitchen. At 10 your son should be able to keep his room picked up, clean clothes in one area, dirty clothes in his hamper, etc.
- pick a long weekend. pick a room and try to declutter. My husband just did this last weekend, when I wasn't paying attention. He decluttered all 4 bedroom closets and has his sights on the kids toy pile in the living room for this weekend!
- use the 3 month rule. and the 1 touch rule. pick something up. if you haven't used it or played with it in the last 3m, then get rid of it. For me I have a hard time tossing stuffed animals and Christmas decor.

For the cats - its possible that one or more of them has sprayed on the stuff that is 'housed' in the open and that you've become accustomed to the smell. When friends respond with 'it smells like we have pets' it usually means that there is a smell, but they to are just dealing with it or are used to it. Decluttering and some Febreeze should help.

For your son - I have a 9y. I completely understand the 'bathing issue'. He too has some clothes that have seen better days. I have asked him to stop wearing the stained holey jeans to school because the school may complain. The send home a monthly newletter and there is usually a comment about the dress code and not wearing stained / holey clothes. The exception was a field trip where they were told to wear clothes that were old and could get dirty. One thing you could try, that's worked for me, is to have him keep a pair of 'ok' jeans in his bookbag so that if the school complains he can change.

Good luck.

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answers from Minneapolis on

Yeah you got a problem...when the state gets involved you get busy..if the cats are outside cats they shouldnt have a smell inside...??? The boy needs you to make sure he takes a bath and you pick out his clothes..I have a ten year old to and believe me its worth the time and effort. When he gets tired of me he does it on his own. When he slacks Im right back on him. Does your boy use deodorant yet? If not get him some and make him use it. Big help!!!! The pipe should be smoked outside to. You smoke around your kid he will go to school smelling like smoke and he breaths it in so its killing him... Clean up your house and get busy with that boy....

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answers from Augusta on

I would make sure he's cleaning EVERYTHING with actual soap. if it takes you watching him shower then do it something isn't getting washed and do it every day and I'd introduce him to deodorant.
about the clutter , I don't have an answer my own house is cluttered.

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answers from Anchorage on

It is pretty normal for the mention of smoking a pipe to lead to the assumption of drugs, pipe tobacco is not very popular or common these days. That more than likely is the main reason cps was called in the first place. For the cats (I too have several pets, so I understand the smell issue), make sure you are cleaning the cat box every day, and get a litter deodorizer, the arm and hammer one is very good. Also, if it is not too cold, keep the box close to a window you can keep cracked. For the clutter, I am not sure, my house it just as bad! I keep some of it under control with under the bed boxes and by boxing stuff and putting it under the house and/or in the attic, but I am not sure if these are options for your home.
As for the child, I remember my cousin being just like this! My Aunt would make him take a bath and brush his teeth, but he would do so without soap or toothpaste! Until everything gets under control with cps, I would take away his freedom of choice on this one. Have dad (or you if dad is not able) watch him shower once or twice to make sure he is using soap and shampoo, or smell him when he gets out and make him go right back in if he does not smell like soap and cleanness! Clean his room for him to be sure you get all his dirty cloths, and make him bring you his dirty cloths from the day as soon as he takes them off to get into pjs. Watch him brush his teeth to be sure he is doing it well and watch while he puts on deodorant. For now, take away the flannel that is too small and store it in a safe place since he seems to love it so.

I am so sorry you are going through all this, and it will take some time, work, and dedication on your part to get out of it now that cps is involved. It does not sound like they should have been involved, but now that they are all you can do is work with them. Best of luck.

Blessed be.

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answers from Houston on

Oh man, I was looking at the laundry thinking how grateful I am no CPS worker was here to see it!!! I am sorry that you are going through this it is tough once they get involved because life isn't always just perfect and it seems like they expect it to be. I would say just do your best to get your son in a bath every day and document that you are doing so. Try and make it fun like get bubbles he likes, or if he is into showering just get him soap he pics and maybe accessories like a robe and slippers or whatever or maybe a reward like dinner at CiCis on the Friday or a dipped cone at Dairy Queen if he bathes/showers all week long, nothing expensive just a little incentive. As far as the cats go, I grew up with cats all my life and the best thing you can do I think is just sprinkle some baking soda on the carpet before you vacuum and give your furniture a spritz down with febreeze fabric spray a couple times a week, that should take care of it and not be too taxing for you. As far as the clutter goes, just dust some and straighten. A ten minute straighten up in the evening wouldn't hurt and if clutter is sort of neatly stacked, it doesn't look too bad. One thing I did to improve the cluttered look of my house was to put a small trash can right in the living room. After my son has a capri sun, right to the trash it goes, when we check the mail, junk mail goes immediately in the trash and not on a table or piece of furniture. We come in with take out and eat in the living room, after eating everything is immediately in the trash, cannot tell you how much that helped!!! I also have a laundry basket in every room, even the living room. If my son comes in from playing outside and is wet or dirty he pulls his clothes off right by the door. This prevents him from getting dirt/mud/water all over and there are no clothes stroon about, we may have backed up laundry but it is all in a basket. The last thing I have done to help with clutter is I stick to my guns that no more laundry gets done until I put away any clean laundry. If it is in a basket, it's dirty. I have a good sized house, but very little storage and I have kids and we are somewhat of clutter bugs so these are few things that have helped me. I think if you alter your habits a little CPS will get off your back and you will be glad of that!!! I don't think any of it sounds problematic myself but now that they are involved I say change what you need to to get them out of your life!!! Take care a wish you all the best!


answers from Boston on

Oh my gosh! I'm sorry your dealing with this (unnecessary) situation !!! Seems very 'innocent' and it seems to me that there has to be someone who must have it "out" for your family (not sure why). I used to go to school w/ a kid whos parents had to PAY him every two weeks to shower ( middle school through HS) so he showered twice every 14 days... NOTHING was ever said or done about his lack of hygiene. i remember sooo many kids 'smelling' or wearing clothes that didnt fit, stained etc. I just find it very strange that your situation is being made into a larger issue than it is. I hope that everything works out for you and your family. I'm sorry I have no advice to give (maybe you should look into getting a layer) I just have seen much more Severe cases (that desperately needed to be check into) and Nothing was ever done or 'looked into' about those. GL I really hope that things get better Fast for you all !!!!!!!



answers from Phoenix on

Wow, calling CPS over too small, dirty clothes? How would they be able to keep up with all of our kids if that's the case!! Try She has an excellent program for organizing and helping with cleaning issues without becoming overwhelmed and beating yourself up. You can get your son involved too. Keep on him to stay clean and he'll get into the habit eventually. Especially when he's a teen and showing interest in girls...LOL Good luck!

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