Dear Abby: Mom won’t let teen throw anything away

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DEAR ABBY: I’ve been trying to declutter and get rid of things, but each time I do, my mother scolds me for getting rid of sentimental items and sends them back to my room. There are clothes that haven’t fit me for years, old trinkets, even gift boxes she won’t let me dispose of or donate. I would just take care of it myself, but she works from home and analyzes my every move.

Additionally, I’ve discovered that she has several dozen boxes filled to the brim with every childhood toy and article of clothing I ever had. She intends to pass them on to me when I give birth to kids “in the next four years.” I’m only 19! Even if I were older, the idea that I’ll be expected to take on all these possessions is a major deterrent to my ever having children.

How do I tell her that enough is enough, and it’s time for things to go? — CLUTTERED COLLEGE STUDENT IN WYOMING

DEAR CLUTTERED: That your mother would set a deadline by which she expects you to have children is not only premature but, frankly, over the top. No one should decide that for you. (What would she do with your old clothes if you gave birth only to sons?)

You appear to have an unusually controlling mother. She may be sentimental about your things, or she may be a hoarder.

By the age of 19, you should be mature enough to decide whether to keep items you no longer use. Tell your mom that you want to donate the items to people who actually need them. If that doesn’t sway her, suggest she store your unwanted things in HER space because you need to declutter yours.

If she refuses, then it may be time to consider making other living arrangements.

DEAR ABBY: We are one of three couples who dine together at least once a week. We and one other couple are retired and on a fixed income.

The third couple is also retired, but own many properties and have no money concerns. We like their company, but the wife is peculiar. She often hands strangers $50 bills when we’re at a restaurant, simply because she thinks they are “nice” or on a first date, etc.

The other night we all had dinner together. When the server asked what she would like to drink, she inquired about how much the iced tea cost, and then said, “I’ll just have water!” Then she asked the server to bring her a bunch of lemons, squeezed them into her water and added sugar! We were so embarrassed we wanted to crawl under the table.

How should we handle this behavior in the future? — FRUSTRATED IN THE DESERT

DEAR FRUSTRATED: Because the woman’s behavior makes you uncomfortable, perhaps you should dine with the couple less often.

What she did by making her own lemonade should have had no effect on you because it was a reflection only on her. However, when someone is with friends who are on a fixed income and hands out $50 bills to perfect strangers — assuming “Lady Bountiful” hasn’t slipped a few cogs — the natural assumption is that she’s grandstanding. And that kind of behavior is rude and inconsiderate.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order “How to Have a Lovely Wedding.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $7 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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