This month I had a couple of customers tell me about frustrations they are having with their children.
In the first case, when their adult kids came to visit over the holidays, the parents wanted them to go through
their bedrooms and get rid of some of their stuff. Yes, we are talking about 40-year-old children who still have
their bedrooms at Mom and Dad’s house, their shrines to their childhood – complete with posters, trophies and prom dresses still hanging in the closets. This isn’t as unusual as you might think.
My answer for those parents was that honestly, they should have told the kids ahead what the expectations were. When the family flies in from hither and yon, they aren’t expecting to take on the chore of clearing out their stuff – a task that can take many hours out of their whirlwind trip. A trip where they planned to spend time with their parents and friends, not their closet.
Another client told me about how they really need to move from the big family home, but the kids won’t let them bring up the subject. They shut down the conversation with, “Mom, we don’t need to talk about such things. You will be here for a long time.”
Part of that is denial. The kids don’t want to think about their parents being mortal.
Here are my suggestions for how to approach this. 1) A note/e-mail to the kids giving an explanation. 2) What your expectations are. 3) A reasonable deadline.
Check out this example below and then change it as you see fit.
Dear Kids, we need your help.
Time has been creeping up on us. Dad and I need to move from our big house. Yes, it is full of memories, truly a lifetime of treasures. We didn’t come to this decision easily. On the contrary, it has been one of the most difficult decisions of our lives. But it is time.
When I walk in the door, I constantly feel a tightening in my chest. I am overwhelmed with the house. We can’t do it anymore.
We need your help. We need your support. We need you to be in our corner.
Please come and deal with your stuff. Even though you don’t live near here in Appleton, we need you to make this happen.
Take the items that you want and get rid of the items that you don’t want. Don’t make me have to decide what to do with your stuff.
After you have cleared out, we will then want to sell/donate all remaining items, so if there is something you want, please let us know before we get rid of it.
Finally, we don’t want to drag this out for 6 months; it is exhausting. Let’s accomplish this in the next three months.
Finally, and most importantly, this is very hard on us. We need your love and your encouragement.
Say yes and help us move forward with the next adventure in our lives.
Love, Mom and Dad.
Jean Long Manteufel writes a column on the first Sunday of each month about life changes associated with aging. Send your questions to Jean@TransitionsWithJean.com or call 920-734-3260