Parental boundaries as an adult are a tricky field to navigate, since parents often still think of us as their little kids. As adults, though, we have different needs and want than we did as children, and parents often have a hard time learning to respect those new boundaries and the new people we are.
Reddit user corona_throwaway2020 came across this very issue with her mom, as her mom began just giving her boxes and boxes of old things from her hours that she had no use for whatsoever.
After setting a firm boundary, to which her mom did not react well, she went to the popular subReddit “Am I The A**hole?” or “AITA” for some feedback on whether or not her reaction was justified.
“AITA for telling my mom that my apartment isn’t goodwill?”
Our original poster, or OP, started receiving tons of old stuff from her mom after a house project.
“Starting in January, my mom (50f[emale]) decided to redo the kitchen in her house and this included dishes, cups, silverware, etc.”
“In the midst of this, she decides to come over to my (21f) house and drop off said dishes, silverware etc. She had asked many times if I wanted her stuff and I have said no.”
This stuff is seriously infringing upon OP’s available space.
“Now, I have three roommates and we all have more than enough kitchen supplies. So far my mom has dropped off a set of stained dishes, scratched silverware, and cracked cups.”
“Today was the final straw when I came back from class to find a series of ugly statues in a bag on my doorstep.”
After another box of unwelcome things, OP confronted her mom.
“I immediately called my mom telling her that I didn’t appreciate her leaving all this crap with me especially when I have nowhere to put it or any interest in taking in.”
“I said I had no interest in her ugly statues and that she should have gotten the hint when I said I didn’t want them.”
After reacting emotionally, she wondered if she’d done something wrong:
“I was angry and did yell at her. She called me ungrateful and hung up.”
“AITA for not wanting my mom to drop off her old stuff at my place like it’s goodwill?”
“I don’t believe I am because I have told her many times I am not interested in her stuff.”
Anonymous strangers weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
Redditors agreed that mom should have listened to the boundary straight away.
“The problem is that this creates work for OP when she has been clear she doesn’t want to deal with whatever her mum is dumping at her place.”
“Her mum should get the message and give it to goodwill.”
“What OP should rather do is take the stuff back at her mother’s so she can’t just dump stuff at OP’s place and be done with it. NTA OP.”~pakichtu
“Mom seems to be sidestepping the ‘guilt’ of getting rid of things by forcefully giving them to OP. Then it’s not ‘gone,’ and any risk of loss or regret is put at OP’s feet instead.”
“Source: I have lots of boxes of stuff from my mom that was *supposed* to be a curated collection of stuff I actually want.”
“But I ran out of time and had to pack up dedicates in turbo mode due to scheduling/living far away constraints.”~mooseren
“NTA. Don’t bin it. Take it back. Very nicely say ‘Thanks so much. I had a look through and there’s nothing I need, so I bought it back so you could give it to someone who would appreciate it more.'”
“As long as it’s easy to dump stuff on you, she’ll keep doing it. Make it harder for her and she might stop.”
“This isn’t technically malicious compliance but it’s close.”
“I had a friend whose mother was always buying her nasty, discount clothing because she loved a bargain.”
“The friend started making her mother take it back to the store for a refund – then the mother stopped.”~Anxious-Marketing525
“NTA. And this! Be super nice about it. Bring it all back and leave it at the door when she’s not there.”
“Make a point of talking to her and letting her know you didn’t find anything you wanted…. Give it to someone else.”
“It might stink that you actually have to put in a little effort now to return things to her, but in the long run eventually her behavior will stop.”
“Also, the fact that she leaves things at your door tells me she might have an idea that you don’t want them.”
“Some people have a hard time getting rid of things and by giving them to you she might feel better about them being put to good use by someone she loves. Still doesn’t excuse the behavior though!”~dilvish-damned
After all, OP did already ask her mom to stop.
“My Mum does this too. She knows that I’m struggling as a single mum with my kids because I’m on disability benefits, I have been very ill for over a year and I live in the middle of nowhere.”
“I have regular visits from a team of support workers to help me manage. Life is not easy. She also loves a bargain and discount shops.”
“So she brings me crap from her house. She brings stuff she’s bought. Random food from the discount food shop. A 14 portion frozen cheesecake, an entire wheel of Brie!”
“Some of it is bad and some is good and some is really great. But the problem is that I have no room for any of it and I never know when it’s going to arrive.”
“I have hardly any room in my freezer – it’s a standard upright 60cm wide fridge/freezer, two 1/2 drawers for the freezer part, that’s it.”
“She has two fridges and two freezers at her house. Her own food cupboards are overflowing. So are her wardrobes.”
“And I appreciate some of what she does. She is a hoarder but she also uses her hoard. That makes it so much harder to talk about with her because she can justify it.”
“She piles it up and then occasionally runs it down or gives some to me because ‘I need it more’. I have tried to tell her several times that I just don’t need any more stuff.”
“But the guilt, the guilt. Because it’s never as simple as this one issue and it’s so entangled. She does do so much to help, has done so much to help.”
“I owe her a significant amount of money from when I left my emotionally abusive ex-husband and had to find somewhere to live with almost nothing.”
“I was supposed to pay her back when he gave me my share of the money from the house but five years on and I’m still waiting.”
“It’s not at all easy to get it sorted through the French legal system. There’s more besides, too. She’s all I have here besides the kids but she’s hard work sometimes.”~EmmaInFrance
“NTA. If you’ve asked her before to stop dumping her unwanted stuff on you, she should have stopped already.”
“She can find somewhere else to donate her old stuff. You aren’t ‘ungrateful’ for not wanting stuff you didn’t ask for and have asked her to stop giving you.”
“Ungrateful would be you asking for something and then being like, ugh no this isn’t what I asked for, it’s not good enough. Which is about the opposite of what’s going on.”~sparrow5
“NTA. My mom did the same thing to me a few years ago and I am pushing 40. I am curious if your mother is controlling in other ways.”
“My mother is an overt narcissist who has to control the narrative and all the people surrounding her.”
“She is right and everyone should be grateful for what she does ‘for them,’ in her own not-so-humble opinion.”
“The reality of the situation is that it is a pain in the a** for everyone else. You are living on your own, so you are an adult.”
“When you say no, everyone should listen (really, that is the case with kids in many, but not all, situations, as well).”
“Also, where is she leaving this junk? If it is in your home, you need to get that key back (or change the locks because she may have made copies) and tell your roommates not to let her in when you are not home.”
“If it is outside your front door and you rent, you can tell her that the landlord does not tolerate mess and that tenants get fined if they leave things in front of their doors, even if said things are not trash.”
“Personally, I prefer the direct route these days, but, as a young adult, I had a much harder time navigating these situations.”
“If talking to her has not worked, you have to get a little more drastic or dramatic. Best of luck!”~DncgBbyGroot
“NTA at all! My mum tried to do this and after many discussions with her I realised its because for her the items hold memories and she ‘wants her things that she loved to go to a good home.'”
“How I stopped it was sign her up to the local ‘Buy Nothing’ Facebook group and she is loving that someone wants her items instead of wondering whether it went to landfill.”
“It’s a great compromise as you can show her items are going to someone who really wants it.”~juniperginandtonic
And she should not have to accept her mother’s things out of sheer guilt.
“NTA, my mum is similar. She hates the idea of being wasteful and throwing things out, so will give me clothes I would never wear.”
“It’s not worth the emotions that come with me turning them down, so I just wait for her to leave and donate or bin them.”
“When she asks where they are, I tell her I donated them for her (light and breezy, making it clear it’s me doing her a favour) and she can’t reasonably in front of people have a go at me about it.”
“I would suggest this strategy, especially if you have any local charity shops that would come and collect. Though as a lot of this stuff sounds like rubbish, just bin it and tell her you donated it.”~loxima
“NTA, OP. My grandma keeps giving us her old stuff once in a while and neither my parents nor I have the heart to tell a lady in her 90’s no, but a good amount of it is stuff is plain ugly, not something I’d buy.”
“It feels wasteful to throw it out and it makes us feel like she thinks we are a rubbish bin or poor – why else is she giving this to us?”
“In the case of your mum, yes continue to say no and it would be better to make one trip to her place to give it all back to her to really get the point across.”~lwhc92
“NTA- Sometime people have trouble letting go to belongings so they give them to someone they know so that they can feel like it’s not truly gone.”
“I think that your mom wasn’t ready to part with these items yet for whatever reason and giving them to you makes her feel better about the separation.”
“You are not the asshole for not wanting a bunch of stuff that you have no need for.”
“Just tell your mother that whatever else she leaves for you will be donated or sold and then do that whenever she leaves unwanted items in your care.”~Choactapus
“NTA, you’re right – she’s treating you like a charity drop off.”
“By dumping them on you, she’s getting out of actually having to put some thought and effort into disposing of them.”
“I’d take them back and drop them off at her place, she can work out what to do with them.”~BellaSantiago1975
A boundary is a boundary, and parents need to learn to respect ours.
OP has every right to deflect these things being brought to her house, and hopefully her mother will come to respect that.