Perhaps these objects have sentimental value, says Janice Wan, psychotherapist and counsellor with Alliance Professional Counselling. This habit may indicate her strong desire to feel secure and remain self-sufficient. But a serious case of hoarding may indicate obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and must be treated by a psychiatrist or counsellor.
If you know that your mother-in-law don’t suffer from OCD, there are a few ways to convince her to get rid of useless objects.
Find Out Why she can’t bring herself to throw something out. “Don’t expect her to throw everything away at once. Try to understand why she wants to hang on to certain items,” says Janice.
Estimate How Much all her possessions cost. This could stop her from buying more stuff. Work out roughly how much she spent on all the items in, say, one room. It doesn’t have to be a precise figure, but the total will probably astound her. Now, wouldn’t all that money be better off in the bank?
Get Her To See that you care for her physical safety. Explain that some objects are dangerous and pose a fire hazard. Discard those objects first, then compromise on the smaller things that have sentimental value.
But Don’t Try To Change her mindset. If she has a cupboard full of Tupperware that never sees the light of day but she just can’t bear to part with, don’t make it an issue. “Learn to pick your battles,” says Janice.
Text: Sasha Gonzales, Simply Her, April 2014 / Additional Reporting: Sylvia Ong