Are Your Parents Hoarding?
Children generally look up to their parents and may even hold them on a pedestal. Young kids often state they want to grow up to be “just like Mommy or Daddy,” but what happens when mom and dad have unhealthy, “embarrassing” habits? What do you do if your parents are hoarding?
The Impact on Children
Hoarding habits can impact anyone from the individual who is hoarding to family members. If the individual with hoarding behavior has children, their children will feel the impact of the parent’s habits and household conditions.
Children may be residing under their parents’ roof and trying to cope with hoarding conditions. Living with an individual who is hoarding can be difficult. Many children may be embarrassed by their parents living conditions and ashamed to reveal their hoarding habits. The children of individuals who are hoarding may be unable to socially thrive because they may be trying to maintain such a big secret from others. Friends would be unable to visit and close relationships would be difficult to develop and maintain due to the inability to reveal major aspects of their life. They may also fear knowledge of their living situation getting out because social services may become involved or the family could lose their home due to poor conditions and code violations. In addition to being fearful about safety and ashamed of family and living conditions, the fear of becoming just like their parents may add to family tensions as well as the possible belief that the parents “care more about their stuff than their children.”
Even adult children who have moved out, may not be able to move on, and can still feel the impact of hoarding. Children of individuals who are hoarding may develop similar habits or try to completely contradict their upbringing by living a minimalistic, immaculate life. The child of an individual who is hoarding may resent the person, and blame them for ruining the relationship. It may be difficult to maintain a parent/child relationship, as visiting may be impossible or fights may arise about living conditions.
How to Help Parents Who Are Hoarders
Though the situation may seem bleak and impossible to overcome, there are ways to improve the conditions and help parents conquer hoarding habits. Here are some strategies to help you approach your parents about their hoarding habits:
- It is important to talk with your parent(s). Screaming and complaining are not effective; instead have a calm, civil conversation with them.
- Express how you feel in an honest but polite manner. Your parents may not realize how much of an impact their hoarding habits have on you, and in some cases, revealing your side may enlighten them to the reality of the situation.
- Explain to them the dangers involved in hoarding in order to reveal how serious the situation is. If you are still residing in the home, bring to light how dangerous their hoarding habits can be not only to their health but yours as well, physical and psychological.
- Consider your parents’ perspective. Listening to their side of the story can help you understand why they are hoarding, which can help with a more effective treatment.
- Do not attempt to touch any of your parents’ belongings without permission as it may make them more defensive and unwilling to change.
- Seek the help of others. Other family members, close friends, a mental health professional, support groups, and/or a professional hoarding cleanup service (if consent is given) may be able to help improve hoarding conditions.
Being the child of an individual who is hoarding can be difficult. Whether residing in the hoarding conditions developed by your parents or having escaped the clutter with family tension, it is possible to help your parents. Remember, hoarding is a mental condition so abandoning your parents or throwing out all of their “stuff” won’t resolve the matter, but may in fact make it work. Begin by doing your homework on hoarding behavior to have a better understanding, and utilize the strategies above to approach your hoarding parent(s). The Hoarding Help Guide has additional effective strategies for addressing a hoarding situation. If your parents agree to seek help to overcome their hoarding situation, consider Address Our Mess’ hoarding cleanup services for a compassionate, professional solution.