Hoarding disorder is estimated to affect more than 5% of the population. That's a great many families and, in effect, children who are impacted by this disorder.
I recently read about a study posted on Anxiety.org about adult children of parents who exhibited hoarding behavior. There were 150 adults recruited who grew up in hoarded homes. They were each given an online questionnaire and the results weren't very hopeful for children who grow up in environments with hoarding.
Here's what the study concluded in terms of how hoarding negatively affects parent-child relationships:
- Lack of Insight: Parents had little awareness of the severity of their negative behaviors and the unsafe home environment.
- Increased dysfunction: There was a high degree of conflict and little expression of emotion in the home.
- Poor communication: Feelings of abandonment and alienation were evident.
- Lack of connection: Relationships were often strained and of poor quality.
- Low frustration tolerance: Built up anger and resentment were noted due to the parent's failure to acknowledge their problem behavior.
It is apparent that hoarding not only affects the person afflicted with the disorder but their offspring. It's clear that children growing up in this type of setting are going to experience a great deal of conflict, a lack of support, and poor problem-solving abilities. Ultimately when treating persons with hoarding disorder it's important to consider the children who are caught up in the mess of this illness.
Here are some helpful resources if you are an adult child of a parent who hoards:
- Children of Hoarders is a non-profit group founded in Milford, CT. They have a wonderful website (www.childrenofhoarders.com) where you can read helpful articles, join one of their many online communities through Facebook and Twitter, or find in-person support groups in your area.
- Speaking of online support, there's the Hoarding/Cluttering Support Group on Facebook which is a great internet forum. The community provides emotional, educational, and psychological support for anyone impacted by hoarding disorder.
- The website www.anxiety.org where I read about this research study appears to be a solid resource. They have many helpful articles geared towards children of hoarders and a great email newsletter that you can sign up for.
- The book A Dirty Secret: A Daughter Comes Clean About Her Mother's Compulsive Hoarding was a candid and inspiring read. It's a fascinating book about hoarding disorder written by Jessie Scholl who's own mother struggled with the illness.
It's clear that being raised in a hoarded home has widespread effects that reach far into adulthood. Please pass this along to someone you know affected by growing up in a hoarded home.