Mom’s hoard­ing ten­den­cies are crowd­ing daugh­ter out

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - PROFILES - ABI­GAIL VAN BUREN Dear Abby is writ­ten by Abi­gail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Con­tact Dear Abby at P.O. Box 69440, Los An­ge­les, CA 90069 or visit

DEAR ABBY: I’ve been try­ing to de­clut­ter and get rid of things, but each time I do, my mother scolds me for get­ting rid of sen­ti­men­tal items and sends them back to my room. There are clothes that haven’t fit me for years, old trin­kets, even gift boxes she won’t let me dis­pose of or do­nate. I would just take care of it my­self, but she works from home and an­a­lyzes my ev­ery move.

Ad­di­tion­ally, I’ve dis­cov­ered that she has sev­eral dozen boxes filled to the brim with ev­ery child­hood toy and ar­ti­cle of cloth­ing I ever had. She in­tends to pass them on to me when I give birth to kids “in the next four years.” I’m only 19! Even if I were older, the idea that I’ll be ex­pected to take on all these pos­ses­sions is a ma­jor de­ter­rent to my ever hav­ing chil­dren. How do I tell her that enough is enough, and it’s time for things to go?

— Clut­tered col­lege stu­dent in Wy­oming DEAR CLUT­TERED: That your mother would set a dead­line by which she ex­pects you to have chil­dren is not only pre­ma­ture but, frankly, over the top. No one should de­cide that for you. (What would she do with your old clothes if you gave birth only to sons?)

You ap­pear to have an un­usu­ally con­trol­ling mother. She may be sen­ti­men­tal about your things, or she may be a hoarder. By the age of 19, you should be ma­ture enough to de­cide whether to keep items you no longer use. Tell your mom that you want to do­nate the items to peo­ple who ac­tu­ally need them. If that doesn’t sway her, sug­gest she store your un­wanted things in HER space be­cause you need to de­clut­ter yours. If she re­fuses, then it may be time to con­sider mak­ing other liv­ing ar­range­ments.

DEAR ABBY: We are one of three cou­ples who dine to­gether at least once a week. We and one other cou­ple are re­tired and on a fixed in­come. The third cou­ple is also re­tired, but own many prop­er­ties and have no money con­cerns. We like their com­pany, but the wife is pe­cu­liar. She of­ten hands strangers $50 bills when we’re at a restau­rant, sim­ply be­cause she thinks they are “nice” or on a first date, etc.

The other night we all had din­ner to­gether. When the server asked what she would like to drink, she in­quired about how much the iced tea cost, and then said, “I’ll just have wa­ter!” Then she asked the server to bring her a bunch of lemons, squeezed them into her wa­ter and added sugar! We were so em­bar­rassed we wanted to crawl un­der the ta­ble. How should we han­dle this be­hav­ior in the fu­ture? — Frus­trated in

the desert DEAR FRUS­TRATED: Be­cause the woman’s be­hav­ior makes you un­com­fort­able, per­haps you should dine with the cou­ple less of­ten. What she did by mak­ing her own le­mon­ade should have had no ef­fect on you be­cause it was a re­flec­tion only on her. How­ever, when some­one is with friends who are on a fixed in­come and hands out $50 bills to per­fect strangers — as­sum­ing “Lady Boun­ti­ful” hasn’t slipped a few cogs — the nat­u­ral as­sump­tion is that she’s grand­stand­ing. And that kind of be­hav­ior is rude and in­con­sid­er­ate.

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