When you’re a good son or daughter, your parents are your everything. You love them unconditionally and would do anything to see them happy. You appreciate what they have done for you so far and how much love they’ve given you. You even try and pay them back in every possible way; including providing help and support if they have a bad habit or addiction.
However, it is a known fact that although every child deserves parents, not every parent deserves to be a parent. Some parents are awful and toxic. Others, though, can simply be flawed and imperfect as they are only humans and not angels or sacred entities, at the end of the day.
And so, unfortunately, some parents cannot be perfect or maintain a great lifestyle for their kids no matter how bad they want to. They have personalities or flaws that cannot be helped and that will inevitably impact their children’s lifestyle and living conditions negatively. That is the case of hoarder parents so what can you do if you happen to have such parents? Read on and find out!
5 Ways to deal with hoarder parents:
1. Convince them to seek professional help:
For those of us who don’t possess hoarder tendencies, it’s hard to imagine why something as simple as getting rid of unnecessary stuff cannot be done. However, being a hoarder is more complex than that, stemming from a possible mental illness. Essentially, we may think it’s a choice but we could actually be seeing the symptoms of a bad addiction and a much bigger problem. Because of this, you shouldn’t expect to be able to solve your parents’ problems alone.
Some therapists are specialized in helping hoarders, and you can try to convince your parents to go see one. Of course, you can also tell them that they don’t have to keep going there if they didn’t like it just so that they don’t feel like you’re enforcing it on them. You can also ask the therapist if you are welcome to join the session, as it will make your parents feel more relaxed.
2. Don’t give them objects as gifts:
It’s true that if you don’t have professional qualifications your resources to help your parents may be limited, but you are not totally powerless either. Even though you can’t do much to treat your parents’ condition, your efforts can be very useful in terms of preventing things from getting worse.
Think about it, your parents seem to hoard everything they attribute meaning to, whether it is an expensive vase or a candy wrapper, so why would you keep giving them things? It may not seem as easy because there will always be Christmas, birthdays, and anniversaries to celebrate and you still want to show your affection by giving them something tangible. However, these gifts don’t have to be material things.
If you like cooking, you could offer them a homemade meal or if they like going out from time to time, look for an event they are going to enjoy and buy them tickets for it. Instead of giving them things, you will be giving them memories to cherish. If your budget allows it you can even book them a short birthday or anniversary trip. All of this without triggering their hoarding tendencies.
3. Explain to them how it makes you feel:
Dealing with mental illness is not easy, either for the person who has it or for the people around who are influenced by it. When it comes to your parents, telling them off or even just mentioning the topic can create a strain on your relationship with them, if it comes across as if you’re blaming or criticizing them.
As hard as it can be, you need to keep in mind that your parents aren’t hurting you on purpose and they too are suffering from this problem.
That’s why it could help to have an honest conversation that is kind and very gentle, with your parents about your feelings. Try to have a calm conversation about how worried they make you feel and be open to hearing their perspective. You could also add that seeing an active effort from their side to improve would put your mind at ease.
4. Find out the reason behind this behavior:
It’s a great see that your parents decided to seek professional help, but what could help you better deal with this situation is knowing what’s behind this behavior. You could do a small research about hoarding behaviors and that alone will show you that this can stem from traumas.
If you think that there must be a simpler reason why your parents are hoarders because you don’t see other signs of trauma in your parents think again. You have only been present in a part of your parents’ lives and if they have experienced trauma it’s only natural that they wanted to suppress it and never told you about it.
But without proper treatment, sooner or later that trauma will show signs again and that’s what is happening to your parents. Maybe your parents went through poverty or lost many things in a phase of their lives so they started having a habit of holding on to what they could keep since then.
5. Don’t take drastic decisions, it will only make things worse:
When you are confronted with the fact that your parents are hoarders your first instinct might be to go into their house and throw away everything unnecessary they have accumulated. But this is the worst thing you can do if you truly wish to help them.
Your parents have grown attached to the things they have hoarded and knowing that they have those things lying around makes them feel safe at home. So, the moment you try to take away these things from them, you will be inflicting them immense stress. Of course, you will have to clear out their house of many of the things they hoarded, but you have to do it gradually at the pace agreed upon with your parents and their therapist.
Another thing you will have to be on the lookout for is when your parents go out shopping. If you can, accompany them and every time they try to take home something they don’t need try to talk to them in a relaxed way until you convince them not to buy it.