Wednesday, January 13, 2010

How to convince a parent they are a pack rat and that they need to start throwing things away?

My mother in law 66yrs old and her father 86yr old are pack rats they hold onto everything of theirs and other and over buy when things are on sale. Both of their houses are crammed with unnecessary things that need to be thrown away how do I tell them without hurting their feelings.How to convince a parent they are a pack rat and that they need to start throwing things away?
to each its own.

maybe it makes them happy.

let them have their happiness if it somehow makes them feel good for only a moment.]

Its their life, their stuff, I dont see how this affects you?

How to convince a parent they are a pack rat and that they need to start throwing things away?
I am the son of the above ';Pack Rat';, Mom was never a real bad Pack Rat, it was controlled. put away... until she HAD a fire about 2 years ago, ever since she was able to move back into the house after the reconstruction was completed, she has gotten worse, her stuff was moved back into the house, and has never been put away, and since then she has accumulated more stuff. It has gotten to the point to where she won't let any of her friends or her father come visit. she just goes over to their house. Thus she must know this is a problem. I and my wife have offered to help her organize. She has let my wife help, once earlier this year, that lasted about a month before she started making excuses for not having my wife come over to help. And most recently the past couple of weeks she has let my wife help clean up, only because she having health problems, and now she is again starting to make excuses for not letting my wife come help her. So we are kinda in a damned if you do damned if you don;t kinda situation, any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance
I know exactly how you feel. It's going to be a hard battle with ';pack rats'; but you can start by saying that their house is a ';death fire trap'; and it needs to be cleaned out.


@ Asker: You will hurt their feelings. These things are their possessions and it's hard for them to give up.

Ask them this one question:

';If there is a fire in your house, you can't save any of this stuff and your house will be engulfed in fire within seconds';....

And tell them you care for their safety. Good luck!
It's too late for that 89 year old. He can't change. The 66 year old could be told that all that stuff is a fire hazzard and that once she's gone her kids will have to clean it all out and that's not fair. Ask her if you can HELP her choose what stuff to keep (things she's used in the past 3 years, or things she is sentimental about), and which can be tossed. If she agrees, then go over at a mutually convenient time and HELP her. She probably hasn't done it because it's too much work for her.
Is this situation affecting their health? If so then take control and tell them it's not healthy. If not, do you live there? If so then again clean it up. If you don't live there, don't worry about it. It's none of your concern. Why worry yourself with someone else's living space. If it bothers you when you visit, get over it. or don't visit. They bought those things and or the things were given to them. It's not your stuff. SO i really don't see the problem.
My 79yo mother is the same way and I've found that sometimes if I just tell her I'm taking a big load to Goodwill or the church Thrift Store, she'll let me take a trunkload (once a month or so, max.). We sort through one pile or area quickly and I don't give her much time to make the choice between ';give'; or ';keep.'; And whatever I get out of her house now makes my job easier at ';the end';.

On a personal note, my biggest relief came when I moved a couple years ago and realized I had NO problem letting go of all my ';stuff';. It was really quite a thrill to know I didn't inherit the packrat gene!!
let them know that maybe someone could really use some of the things they are holding on to. that you have some friends or there is a place where there are families that could really use '; '; (mention some of the stuff they have) ask them if they have stuff buried then they are obviously not using it. Hopefully that would strike something for them. good luck!
I agree with the 1st girl, start throwing things away a little at a time. They may forget what they own and eventually you could clean there house for them and move items around so they think they are put away.
you be the one to lead...start throwing the unnecessary things away, and whether they like it or not, they are getting out of control
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