Dear Annie: I read the column about “Jenna,” who is a hoarder, and how terrible the conditions of her house have become. At first, I had nothing but sympathy for that situation, but I thought about how the letter mentioned that this woman has two nearly grown kids, one going to be a sophomore, the other a senior. It is difficult for me to fathom how these teenage children, despite their mother’s problems, haven’t learned how to clear the table, wash the dishes, clean the litter box, put out some pest poison, do the laundry or sweep out the feces. They could not learn this on their own? This is what I have a problem with. If they could not learn to do these things, then what have they learned at all? I learned how to do chores when I was 7 years old, including washing dishes and housecleaning. On my own, I learned to help my mother do things when she was too busy doing other things. I’m sorry I am not more sympathetic, but for these conditions to exist even with teenage children, I just don’t understand it. — James
Dear James: You cannot expect children who grow up in a hoarder home to develop good housekeeping skills. Additionally, hoarders tend to hold tightly to a sense of control over their surroundings. (Never mind how out of control the situation looks to everyone else.) It’s very possible that these children have tried cleaning up their home but were met with Mom’s resistance. So though I commend you for helping out around the house as a child, I wouldn’t be so quick to judge these kids.