There's nothing unusual about a mother or father who collects stamps, baseball cards or porcelain dolls. But when hobbyists become hoarders, their children often end up with life-long emotional effects.
A recent New York Times article points out that even though the compulsive collecting, shopping and storing is much more well known now because of reality shows like, TLC's"Hoarding: Buried Alive," and A&E's "Hoarders," "scant attention has been paid to how hoarding affects families of the afflicted, especially their children. Most are left to their own devices to make sense of growing up in homes where friends and relatives are unable to visit, with parents who seem to value inanimate objects more than the animate ones navigating the goat paths through the clutter," writes Steven Kurutz of the Times.
Living in a home bulging with magazines, books, clothing, dirty dishes, figurines, furniture or even animals and their waste, children fear having friends or guests over, and even look for ways to avoid their own homes, preferring to stay with friends or the other parent in cases of divorce.
As adults, these "children of hoarders" often struggle to understand the meaning of objects, some preferring to take the opposite route and live a nearly Spartan existence, so as to not fall victim to their parents' vice. Others may slowly follow in their parents' footsteps, keeping a bit too much, for too long.
"Without a role model, how can one learn what is valuable and what is not? How do you decide whether you need an empty soda bottle or a piece of junk mail?" Randy O. Frost told the Times. Frost is a professor of psychology at Smith College, who has also written about hoarders in his book, "Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things."
On a personal note, Jessie Sholl wrote about her experiences in the memoir, "Dirty Secret: A Daughter Comes Clean About Her Mother's Compulsive Hoarding." Her mother, Sheila, who was keeping things as a way to deal with anxiety disorders from her childhood, said the book helped her understand how her overzealous collecting affected her relationship with her daughter.
And while she's trying to keep a tidier home, it's still difficult, especially because it's not just about the items.
In almost every hoarding case there are deeper, underlying issues, which most often need to be addressed through cognitive behavior therapy that includes "focusing on controlling the urge to acquire and learning how to break the attachment people have to things," Frost told the Times. De-cluttering isn't enough because "you're dealing with the product of the behavior, not the behavior itself," he said. "That's what's so frustrating to family members — they're trying to de-clutter and it ends up being a giant argument."
Websites like Children of Hoarders.com offer individuals who have grown up overwhelmed and oppressed by objects an outlet for their feelings, and a chance to talk with people who know exactly what they've been through.
And it's not just tough on children and families.
The entire city of Orem has struggled with hoarding, evidenced by the fact that the Department of Public Safety's Neighborhood Preservation Unit deals with thousands of cases of garbage-filled backyards and driveways each year, which are a violation of the city's nuisance ordinance.
- Miss Utah USA's bungled interview creates...
- Doug Robinson: Utah man's new running shoe...
- Miss Utah USA gets second chance at question...
- Ogden man shot as he knelt to pray is...
- BYU poll: Majority favor impeachment,...
- Video: Miss Utah USA flubs answer at Miss USA...
- Man charged with attempted murder in Ogden...
- NPR writer 'slightly' defends Miss Utah USA's...
- Miss Utah USA's bungled interview... 38
- BYU poll: Majority favor impeachment,... 27
- Video: Miss Utah USA flubs answer at... 26
- Teen's family apologizes to family of... 21
- 2 others back up extortion claims... 21
- Attorneys for AG John Swallow say... 20
- Gunman caught after shooting... 20
- Doug Robinson: Utah man's new running... 17