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Raising Our Own Children

  • What input do you have for other COH raising children of their own?
  • What has helped you, what routines do you teach your children?
  • What do you tell them about their grandparents?

Please post your comments below if you choose, to share with other site visitors.

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A recovering person who hoards sent in this list for the site of
“How Not To Raise A Hoarder.”

DON’T :

  • Stand over your kids when they are trying to do their homework, correcting spelling and other mistakes as they go.
  • Pick all their clothes for them and be overly involved in their daily clothing decisions…as long as they are neat and clean and reasonably well put together.
  • Talk frequently about how most people are not to be trusted and have alterior motives, complain and comment about the neighbors and others – “he has BO”, “she’s not all there”, “they’re just looking for a free babysitter by shoving their kids off on us”, and so forth.
  • Tell an adult child that you don’t like their hair, weight, clothing, or other personal choices unless asked.
  • Fuss about every little thing that happens to the grandkids, such as every crumb on their face.
  • Freak out about spilled milk.
  • Make your child a confidant for problems that you should be discussing with another adult. Just because you don’t have any friends doesn’t mean that you should unload on the child!
  • Make them color inside the lines.
  • Emphasize the importance of things over people and their feelings…is it really “too good to use”?
  • Overdramatize everyday events. It isn’t “criminal” or “terrible” that people choose to throw things away.
  • Be there ready to catch children and correct every mistake. Make them “buck up” a little bit so that they can develop self confidence, decision making skills, and the ambition to make it in this world.
  • Don’t hand-wring and create anxiety where there shouldn’t be any.
  • Be such a control freak that your kids don’t feel like they have any control at all over anything, including their daily clothing choices, hair style, or other matters that aren’t important in the whole scheme of things. Later, when the child becomes an adult, they will struggle with decision making, self confidence, and control issues themselves. In some ways, they may seek to control in their own lives because they were denied any kind of control as kids. (I am not advocating that kids be raised with no guidance or discipline…obviously those things are important.)

Do:

  • Have friends and invite them in, entertain a little bit at least.
  • Promote decision making skills in kids by allowing them to choose their daily outfit, complete their own homework, cereal for breakfast, how they will spend some of their time.
  • Allow your kids to wear their hair in the style of their choosing, within reason.
  • Buy your kids one or two trendy pieces of clothing now and then so they fit in.
  • Push your kids past some of their fears, riding bikes or swimming for example, so that they know these skills
  • Try to put things into perspective. One of the things about hoarders is that their fears are totally disproportionate to reality. These fears are sometimes rooted in childhood with their own parents who were/are extremely conscientious – almost to the point of neuroticism.
  • Teach your kids to prioritize, and focus on the larger issues and let the smaller ones go. Don’t place the same emphasis on small problems that you do on the big ones.
  • Teach your kids how to manage your time. This is something hoarders are terrible at. (IMO)
  • Don’t correct every single mistake, let the small ones go.
  • Let them color outside the lines!
  • Unless it really is a collectable, let the kids play with their toys.
  • Above all, tell your children frequently that you love them!

Additional sent in via the anonymous COH website feedback form (thank you!):

  • Don’t:
    anthropomorphize every single inanimate object your kid plays with. Obviously, your kids will have a few favorite stuffed animals – but when your kid attaches yarn and construction paper to a sock or cardboard tube, it does not mean that is a dolly forevermore.
  • Do:
    have your kids do a purge of their toy collection every fall.
    They should learn that it’s smart to clean out the ones they’ve outgrown or broken, to make space for the new toys they’ll get for the holidays. One thing in = one thing out…a concept I still find magical and amazing!

Do you have some input to add to this list?

Permanent link to this article: http://childrenofhoarders.com/wordpress/?page_id=302

  • Deharmano

    I was disappointed with this list, ha.  I would rather see something like “how to teach your child valuable organizational, cleaning, and personal space responsibility”  or “how to find a balance between keeping things clean and going overboard with a mess/cleanup cycle” instead of just “don’t be an OCD mom, do  be a laid back mom!”  

  • Here’s what I am teaching my children (unlike what my parents taught me):

    – Toys should be stored properly so that they can be found when you want them. Keep all the building blocks, wooden trains, Playmobil, etc in lidded bins and bring them out when you want them. Having a bin for each makes it easier for the kids to put the toys away and reduces the chances of small pieces getting lost. It’s no fun when parts are missing or broken because they weren’t stored properly.

    – Toys and clothes should be sorted through regularly (about once a season) to figure out what should be given away, sold, kept for siblings, or disposed of (broken toys in the garbage, damaged clothes used for rags). Some very special toys and clothes do get saved, but not everything is that special. My kids now give me, on their own, clothes that don’t fit and toys they don’t want. They’ve even figured out that some things can be sold at yard sales so they can use the money to get something they really want.

    – I let my kids wear their dress-up clothes for any occasion they feel is special, whether its a dinner out, having visitors or because they are feeling festive.

    – Some things that aren’t useful to us can be useful or important to others, so there are some items that we don’t want that should be handled differently, perhaps given to a museum that can properly preserve it, or to a person or organization that could use it.

    – Just because something was a gift from someone special, doesn’t mean
    you have to keep it, let alone keep it forever. It’s ok to let things go
    especially if it is not something you like or will ever use/use again.

    – Most importantly, things are just things, they aren’t memories or parts of someone else. Our important memories are in our heads and our love for someone can’t be thrown out.

    • New.adult.

      This really made me smile. I wish I had someone to teach me exactly what you teach your kids now. Thank you for sharing, cuz that really helped me see how healthy people live and how I can manage my stuff someday and, eventually (hopefully), how to teach my children to manage their belongings someday.

  • Amydee

    Can someone tell me if this is an okay email to send to my siblings?: I’m sorry if this is in the wrong spot but I can’t find a better place to post it, and I feel like time is running out. By the way, I don’t normally talk about issues between my mom and myself outside of the two of us, but I’m tired of being ostracized by my dad, my grandparents, and my siblings every time I make a decision my mom doesn’t like. That has happened many times, because she tells everyone her “side” of things, in which she is always the victim of some horrible injustice, and I don’t like spending my energy doing that, so I get stuck on the outside until it blows over, or things come to light..usually years later. I don’t want to lose my sisters again.

    Here’s the email (names and locations changed):

    “Hello, sistas!

    I earnestly beg you to keep this in confidence, so I can
    handle it in a gentle, appropriate and respectful way. For my health and the
    health of this pregnancy, I need to avoid any strain that might cause my blood
    pressure to rise. I’m trying to delay handling this at LEAST until after I have
    given birth, recovered, and established breast feeding our son. I want you to
    know what’s going on in my words, and from my mouth. This is a private matter.
    I have only shared this with Andy, one trusted friend, and a counselor. I
    would like to expand that to include you three, because I don’t want family
    misunderstandings to come between us.

    In short, Andy and I are both very uneasy about Ella and
    our son spending more than short day visits at mom and dad’s house. We don’t
    think it’s a safe environment right now. It is because of the clutter, the dog
    situation, and because of the many repairs that need to be done and aren’t.
    What this means for us is that visits to our hometown are impossible at this
    point in our lives. We would need to fly out, likely rent a vehicle, and then
    stay at a hotel. This would make each trip cost more than we have in our life
    savings. Even if we had the money, it would probably be awkward that we would
    choose a hotel instead of staying at the grandparents’. Likewise if we chose
    to stay with friends.

    I don’t know if it’s possible to understand the power of
    a loving mother’s protective instinct. I literally cannot choose to put Ella into a situation I know to be potentially hazardous. I realize that bad things can happen, even in environments that are safe. That would be heartbreaking enough.But if I choose to put her into a situation I don’t feel right about, and something happens, that is my fault. I would have to live with that, and I don’t think I could. She is so precious to me, and I have to do what is best for her, even though it costs me.

    I spend time every day wishing
    things were different, and stressing about how to handle it the right way. I
    want to have and share experiences I always dreamt I would with our children.
    This isn’t me trying to hurt anyone’s feelings or me being selfish. I don’t
    like drama and I don’t like conflict. It has taken me months to decide to send an
    email about this. Last time we visited our hometown, I hoped my concerns would
    prove unwarranted. Instead they were confirmed strongly, through several
    incidents. I often consider the fact that we have aging relatives in our home state, and I really want to see them. I find myself trying to figure out good
    plans to make that happen, but there is always something that complicates my
    plans.

    Recently, mom called to let me
    know about Jenny’s engagement party and also that our grandparents aren’t doing well. She was encouraging me to come visit them, and come to the party. I willbe 34 weeks pregnant, and my pregnancy is considered somewhat high-risk for recurrent high blood pressure, and pre-eclampsia. Even if I was told I could
    travel, I don’t think I would take the risk in my third trimester. If I wasn’t
    pregnant, then the party would be easy, but there is still the issue of how to
    handle a home town visit.

    Anyway, I think it is unjust to
    make the decision Andy and I have made, without telling mom and dad about it.
    It doesn’t give them a fair chance, and it doesn’t solve any problems. But
    again, I am trying to delay handling this for a while, but it might come up
    unexpectedly. If it does, I want to make sure you three understand our reasons.

    I love our family. I think mom is a wonderful mom, and an incredibly generous person, more generous than I can ever hope to be. I don’t have any overly negative feelings toward her. Still, the reality is she keeps a LOT of stuff,and all that stuff makes the house unsafe for babies and young children. My responsibility to my children comes first. I hope you can understand that, and
    even if you can’t, maybe someday you will.

    Amy.”

    Please help me decide if I should send this email or just wait it out, and see what happens.

    • Hi Amy,

      Would love to have you join the COH Yahoo support group!

      http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/childrenofhoarders/

    • bandaid

      hello amydee,
      i read your draft and found it to be very professional, empathtic and to the point. i understand your srtuggle and completely agree with your choices. i hope you and yours are well ! keep up the good fight! even though sometimes it doesn’t feel that way,
      regards,
      amanda

  • New.adult.

    Reading this was relieving, in a way, because everything under the “don’t” list is exactly what I’ve been upset with my mom for this past week! I’m glad to learn that all those things are related to her hoarding, and that she is, in fact, over-controlling. She convinced me I was just stubborn and rebellious and ungrateful for what I had.

    I wasn’t allowed to choose my own outfits until I was in middle school! I still remember in fifth grade and earlier, my mom would give me an outfit I had to wear in the morning and if I didn’t like it, she would threaten to send me to school naked. I was terrified! haha I actually thought she would follow through!

    I wasn’t allowed to shower myself till I was like 12, either. My mom was afraid I would use too much water and like damage our “aging” shower or something like that. So she didn’t let me use it myself. I hated it. I was mad at her for it back then. I remember once when I was 8, I went to go visit my dad and he told me I had to go take a shower, and I told him I couldn’t cuz I didn’t know how to. My older half-sister, who didn’t grow up with my mom, had to shower me, but she wasn’t awkward about it or anything. The worst part was just how my dad was so shocked that I didn’t know how to shower myself at the age of 8… I didn’t understand back then why he was so surprised. I thought that was so normal..

    And my mom would be looking over my brother’s homework CONSTANTLY growing up!! He wouldn’t be allowed to do his homework by himself, and she would get frustrated and correct him every time he made a mistake of any kind. Even the mistake of forgetting to put his name on his paper before starting the assignment itself.

    Things are a lot better now. She’s really reasonable, I think. Like she’s not strict at all, but I still feel controlled sometimes and I have trouble figuring out why I feel that way cuz she’s so lenient on like everything. She just gives a lot of suggestions though and I’m scared to not follow them. I guess that’s why/how I feel controlled.

    Why do hoarders make such over-controlling parents? What’s the connection between the two (hoarding and the need to control others)?

    • bandaid

      hello new adult,
      i realize it has been a year since you posted this comment. i feel the need to respond, although i wish i had the answers. my belief is that hoarding and control are hand-in-hand. i think the “others” are a threat and therefore controlling them is key to “their” survival in some way. i am not an expert, but i have survived a number of hoarding family members in my life. i have also found comfort and relief in researching this “mental disabilaty” of hoarding. it has givin’ me the help in recognizing certain behavior and how i respond. fear plays a huge role in this disability and should not be taken with a grain of salt. fear can also be very contagious. hoarding can come in many different shapes and forms. some hoard power, some objects, some love and fear. either way it is an in-balanced behavior that effects those of loved ones. i continue to try to understand for myself and my daughter and husband. i am a child of a hoarder and i am beginning to understand what that means, which gives me a choice that i didn’t know i had before! in other words “FREEDOM!”
      i hope this may have helped you in some way,
      regards,
      amanda

  • jennifer morrison

    I need help with the last one
    “DO-have your kids do a purge of their toy collection every fall.They should learn that it’s smart to clean out the ones they’ve outgrown or broken, to make space for the new toys they’ll get for the holidays. One thing in = one thing out…a concept I still find magical and amazing!Do you have some input to add to this list?”
    I actually try to do this 2 times a yr. At my daughters birthday and in the fall/winter before Christmas. My daughter is 4 now. Last night we were cleaning out her room and it was a huge dramatic event for her. She was crying like bloody murder over a torn school folder from last year. She said she loved it for the stickers on front. As she was crying she kept saying she was scared. That’s why I found this forum. How do I handle this? How can I help her?

    • bandaid

      hello jenn,
      my name is amanda, i also have a four year old daughter who has a hard time letting go of certain things. i am a 40 year old daughter of a hoarding mother. when i talk with my daughter about going through her toys,books and such, i explain to her that there are other children who could use it to help them. this makes her feel better about letting go. if there is something particular that she feels strongly about, i tell her it’s okay and we don’t have to make a decision now. she has an incredible memory and if i remove something of her’s without her participation, all hell brakes loose! your daughter’s strong feelings of fear may come from things she has heard at home, on t.v. or at school or daycare, maybe even other family members. she may also have memories attached to the stickers of positive reinforcement from fellow students or teachers that make her feel good about herself. i’m certain this event must have been pretty scarey for you, inorder for you to seek help at such a place like this. i myself recently started seeking support. mostly i want to do as much as i can to prevent raising my daughter the same way i was raised and to be able to recognize certain behaviors. in the short time i have researched this issue i have discovered that how i cope with anxiety and depression is how she will learn how to cope.i hope this may help you in some way,
      regards,
      amanda

      • jenn

        Thank you , it feels good to be able to relate to others too 🙂

        • bandaid

          agreed, happy holiday!