Cut the Cord – It’s ok to say no to your adult child (and storing their stuff)

February 27, 2017
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I was recently interviewed by Belinda Skelton on WSB radio here in Atlanta, GA. I should not have been surprised that every single caller asked for help when dealing with their family member’s clutter. We often want to blame our problems on everyone but ourselves however, when it comes to stuff, it’s everyone’s problem.

Most of my clients presently have or have had children in their house. We are living with the “boomerang” generation where it seems perfectly acceptable for our adult children to come back home whenever they need to. What parent could turn away their precious baby? But what about their stuff?

One of the callers to last Saturday’s show is in the process of a downsizing move. She has “children” in their late 30’s who have left her basement full of their belongings (Barbie’s, stuffed animals, text books, etc.). She has asked them to come get their stuff and they say they don’t have anywhere to put it.

The way I see this situation is very simple; you have 3 choices:

1. Give them a definitive time period (1 month) to get their things. After the month, whatever is left gets donated to charity.
2. Charge them a storage fee just like an outside company would.
3. Buy your next home large enough to continue storing your “children’s” stuff until they decide to get it.

Which of those 3 choices sounds the most rational to you? Why do they not value your space, time or money? It’s usually easier said than done but I think it’s time for some 1950’s tough love. You deserve to set boundaries.

I’m assuming the reason this process is so difficult for most people is because you do not want to get rid of anything that seems like part of their child hood. It’s also hard to part with items you spent good money on. It feels like they do not appreciate you or the gifts you gave them.

Take it from someone who’s Mom decided to give her back her stuff at 25 years old: they know you still love them! Also, they will still love you even if you get rid of all of the items they obviously don’t want (or they would have them in their home).

Take back control of your space. You will not lose your children, you will gain square footage!

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