I was contacts by Rens and asked if I could publish something he wrote about children of hoarders. I thought it would be a good idea to give others a voice also.
Guest post by Rens van der Windt (searchstarz.com)
Children of Hoarders
If a child’s parents are hoarders, it means much more than not being able to have their friends over.
Let’s explore this a little further…
Many children feel their parents value objects more than them and if you touch or use their possessions it is very difficult for them to bear. Objects are often seen as an extension of the self, as hoarders require a strong sense of control over both their possessions and themselves. This is often due to a need for perfection and hoarders feel personally offended when we touch their objects, as we may tamper with what they perceive is perfect. When other people clean or touch their belongings, extreme emotions can be triggered. These emotions are very difficult for hoarders’ children to understand. An authority figure with a twisted belief about objects is confusing for children because there is a different reality about objects at school than at home. Children often feel they have to compete with objects to
get their parent’s attention. Nonetheless, hoarding is often a symptom for personality disorders that can be undiagnosed.
The environment of disorganization and chaos causes hoarders to hide themselves from the rest of the world, isolated between the blinds and often ashamed of their behavior. For the children of hoarders, this can be extremely damaging. Parents often know the problem is there, but don’t want to admit it. Although the clutter is clearly there and affects the whole family, parents don’t want to talk about it. Some children even get blamed for the mess. Knowing there is something to hide, it is difficult to interact with kids who have ‘normal’ parents. If the doorbell rings, many hoarders refuse to let people in and this comes from a fear that they discover their obsession.
Hoarding has not always been seen as a serious problem by society, however there has been a lot more awareness about the issue nowadays because of television programs regarding hoarding. For most of the child’s life, they have probably had no idea this issue had a name and was considered a problem that more people are struggling with.
Many children of hoarders are concerned about their parents’ well being and living conditions, but most of the time they’re not allowed to help or even to come in certain parts of the house. Pressuring parents into de-cluttering is not a good option in most cases. Some children even find that their relationship with their parents deteriorates because of this. Others feel that, as a last resort, they have to report their parents to authorities in order to help them. In many cases other people report hoarders
because of a health crisis. This then forces the hoarders to call in professional companies for a house clearance of the accumulated objects and provide emotional support. It’s often not a good idea for their children to help with this because guilt parents feel about the situation.