When I work with moms and their children to help clear out and organize children’s rooms and play areas, I often find that a child is ready to part with an item and the mom is not. Just this week I worked with a young girl who really knows what she wants and what she no longer wants to have in her space. Her mother, on the other hand, is a sentimental saver who has great difficulty parting with things. I knew I could have a challenge on my hands if we all worked together.
I’ve been in that situation before. Typically the child will identify something to donate to a charity and the mother will say, “Oh, your stuffed penguin, are you sure you want to get rid of that?” At that point I usually intervene and say, “If she wants to get rid of it, let her. If it means that much to you, you keep it.” Inside I’m saying, “It’s a good thing that she wants to get rid of things. Don’t discourage that!”
Fortunately, I’d worked with this client before and had prepared her for our session by encouraging her to let me work with her daughter by myself. I assuaged her fears by letting her know we’d show her what we planned to get rid of. Working alone with the daughter, we were able to find three large garbage bags of toys and craft items to donate and two bags of trash.
My client was so thrilled by our progress that she even allowed us to close two of the bags without checking out what was in them. I am fairly certain we’d have been much less successful if Mom had been involved. Her second guessing her daughter’s decisions would have slowed our progress and would have led to the daughter either feeling discouraged or angry. So, getting Mom out of the picture was a win-win for both mother and daughter. The child was given the chance to make her own decisions, with me monitoring the process, and the mother was able to get part of her house cleared out without the usual angst and agony.
Moms, if children want to get rid of their belongings, let them! Don’t second-guess their decisions! If you truly think they are making a mistake, put the item or items aside with things you are keeping for you. When you second-guess their decisions, you are teaching them that they really can’t make good decisions on their own behalf. And, you are teaching them to save instead of purge! Do you really want that?