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Gifts especially to dc from relatives vs. clutter, environmental concerns etc.... Advise me, please.


Pen
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Please do not quote. I plan to erase this after getting some feedback.

 

I'm not sure how to handle gifts of various items that are not really all that welcome for various reasons. Say "Thank you," and then donate to Good Will is an option.  Say, "No, Thank you," is another. Some are for me and some are for my ds.

 

We have a small house and it already has a clutter problem. I have been working very hard to try to KonMari stuff down to what sparks joy. It is especially hard for me due to disability/health problems.  We do not have a lot of money, but I'd like to have fewer, better, really useful, and more loved things.

 

deleted for privacy

Edited by Pen
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I have never found a good answer to this question, and have been thankful for the many miles that separate me from the source.

 

I don't know if it was the right thing, probably not, but I used to just take the stuff, and then box it up and store it in case I was asked about it.

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I would have no problem saying no to these things, and if given them anyway, say "thank you" and plan the next Good Will run.

 

If these are grandparents, I would share gift ideas at holiday/birthday times--membership at a museum, magazine subscription, one nicer-quality desired toy instead of lots of cheap stuff, etc.

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Regardless of how anyone feels about organic vs non organic items...

You do not have to accept nor keep junk that other people give you.

 

You've made it clear about what you want to accept. If they choose to keep giving stuff anyways, once it's yours, feel free to donate.

 

Especially with free or cheap crap like give away items- if they think cruise swag bag stuff is so great, they should keep it!

 

Donate & dont worry about it at all.

 

For special times like birthdays & holidays, try hard to get them to gift off a wish list or experience.

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Have you actually sat down and explained clearly that you are trying hard to declutter and have limited space so you really cannot accept a lot of stuff?  That might make more sense to them than the environmental/health concerns unless they grok those things.  

 

In all likelihood refusal is going to hurt their feelings but if you keep being firm but polite and kind they may eventually get over it AND get the message.

 

Although it sounds like they are trying to connect with some of the gifts and put some thought into it, which is nice, it also sounds like they have lots of stuff they acquire that they don't want to toss out but don't want themselves.  Therefor  they think "Hey, maybe ____ could use it!"  Absolutely you have the right to simply say thanks for the thought but we don't need that at this time.  Honestly some of that stuff sounds a lot less like a gift and a lot more like they don't want stuff to clutter up their own house and don't want to toss it plus they probably know you are tight on funds so they think they are killing two birds with one stone by providing you and DS with free stuff you should be grateful for.  They get to declutter without wasting stuff and they get to be the Knights in Shining Armor showering you and DS with their generousness.  That may sound harsh and maybe isn't accurate but that is what it kind of seems like from your post.

 

I would try to explain clearly, pleasantly and succinctly that you don't need lots of stuff at all and hand it back or don't take it.  If they insist then suggest they donate the items to a local charity and thank them for thinking of you and DS but you really, really, really don't need any of those things.

 

For stuff they put more thought into you might go ahead and take it but either retask it or box it for use some other time or donate afterwards.

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I would just say thank you and pass it on to the goodwill. I would try to mention the fact that you are trying to cut down on clutter and emphasize that you don't really need anything but at the end of the day I would just put in the bag of stuff I have in the garage to donate.

If they asked about birthday presents or something special I would suggest something like tickets to a museum or a play or out to breakfast.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Edited by ealp2009
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Honestly, this is a challenge. I accept and donate. I would not feel bad at all to say I didn't want a superhero blanket as a decoration in my living room, but for many years my MIL spent money she didn't really have on stuff I would never have wanted and mostly I donated it and moved on. 

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I would stick to phrases like, "thanks, but that's not the kind of thing he likes to sleep in/drink from/wear." It sounds like you already tried explaining your thoughts about plastics, so I would avoid that on the future so neither you nor the grands end up feeling judged and defensive.

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This is a challenge and I haven't found a good answer either. My family is notorious for showing love through giving stuff they like (knick knacks, ceramics, blankets, toys, etc). They get deeply offended if I say I don't want it or to please not get stuff. I even ask to just get experience types of stuff (movie passes, zoo passes etc) but without fail they send stuff I would classify as "junk".

 

Now I take it with a smile and "thank you" and promptly drop it off at the Goodwill.

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With my mom, who gives us SO MUCH stuff, I have freedom to regift and/or donate. (She is a major garage saler.) This is something we've explicitly discussed.

 

My MIL is harder, because money is tight but she values gift giving, she gives things that value highly to her but not to us. But she doesn't visit much, so I keep the best and get rid of the rest. She's the sort that gives us freebies she got through work.

 

Emily

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do these relatives have a lot of "clutter"?

 

just say no. .. a lot of what they're giving you is "stuff" they've been given that *they* don't want! (seriously - stuff they got on a cruise??)  it didn't cost them anything.   suggest they give it to goodwill if they can't use it (if they take offense to this - you can point out that they don't want it either)  - or if you're feeling particularly gracious, you can offer to take it to goodwill for them.

 

I understand about the thermos . . . I'd imagine they've never dealt with a double wall with no condensation, keeps the outside dry, cold, etc. . .   I have three brands (one set of two 40oz bottles from costco - dirt cheap.  work great.   I got the straw lids from hydro-flask - and they're great.)  I've had a number of plain water bottles appear in my house - they are sent out.   once doing insulated, I won't got back. 

the simple modern is almost as good as the hydro-flask - but cheaper.    the ones from costco are a japanese brand - and they have them again this year in a set of two.

 

and what is a plastic blanket?

 

t

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My thoughts on this:

 

Yes, people passing on random free stuff they get can seem rather thoughtless BUT it also quite possibly means that they thought of you/your kids while on cruise or whatever. Which is pretty sweet.

 

Generally, I would err on the side of taking things with a thank you (for the thought if not for the actual item). Many/most of them can be gotten rid off/used up etc. (e.g. a cheap plastic blanket could be used for doing arts and crafts projects on, stationery can be used for drawing on etc.).

 

When my older ds was little I spent a lot of time researching the best chair, food, toothpaste whatever. So when my parents gave him the cheap plastic book that was on sale at the grocery store I wasn't too pleased. Partly, because it wasn't the kind of book I thought he should have, but more because I felt they had not spent enough time/energy coming up with the "perfect" gift (but then gifts are ridiculously important to me). Anyway, two things I have learned from this:

 

a) My son actually LOVED that cheap, silly book with the fake woof-sound. He had plenty of other books so it certainly didn't deprive him of "better" books but he really liked that one.

 

b) My mother died before younger son was born and my father a couple of years later. We have basically no extended family. The only presents they get at Christmas/birthdays are from me. Sure, they are generally well thought out gifts (I hope) and they do get plenty. But I REALLY wish there were other people in their lives who care about them and get them stuff, even if it is not perfect (luckily, the kids are not as hung up on gifts as I so they probably don't mind as much).

 

Anyway, I would try to see the positive and just get rid of things if they are too much clutter and if you can do so without hurting feelings.

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I tend to say, 

"I'm sorry, we have some really stringent rules about the kinds of things we keep in the house or let the kids keep.  Here are the parameters, broadly speaking [we have a lot of them, so for us it is things like: no red and black, no skulls, no Sophia the First, no plastic, no soccer things, no Barbies, no political slogans or social messages, NO MORE STUFFED ANIMALS, etc etc.].  Please run it by us before you buy it or send it to the kids."  Then we have absolutely no compunction whatsoever donating things that are clear violations of the known parameters.  People who are closer to us tend to know what kinds of things the kids like and are allowed to have, so most of the given away things are from more distant relations anyway.

 

We have 6 kids and we move a lot.  We do not want clutter and will not keep clutter.

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For the shirts, could he wear them over an undershirt, to limit contact? 

 

Otherwise, yeah, for stuff that isn't meaningful (flower pot, canteen, etc) just say, "Oh, thank you but we already have one/don't need another/don't have space for it." For something that you feel you must take, just donate it later. 

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Are they just casually mentioning this stuff over the phone before they bring it over? I just can't imagine my inlaws telling me ahead of time they have a freebie tshirt for my kids. If they did, I'd just tell them we were all set for clothes. As far as the promo and garage sale items, either when they ask or hand it to you, just say "no thank you." Don't feel bad or feel like you have to explain.

 

When your son loses something they might want to replace, I wouldn't mention it to them unless you are confident they would only replace it with an acceptable alternative. It sounds like they are trying to be helpful but it isn't the the help you want.

 

I don't understand what you mean by not sleeping in plastic. Do you mean the shirts are made out of polyester?

Edited by Rach
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We have the same problem, less now that we have moved to a slightly larger house, but not so much because we have more space, but because my MIL was there helping us move and saw how many things that were "perfectly good" in her sight being put into the throw away or give away piles.

 

I've also gotten better at firmly saying no to yard-sale things that I won't use, or if the person really refuses to believe "no", just taking them and putting them immediately into the give away box that we always have going.

 

My husband has also several times as the holiday approaches sent out emails reminding everyone that we strongly prefer they give only ONE gift per child because we have been blessed that three of his grandparents are still living, as well as both sets of our parents, and that adds up to lots of gifts. 

 

I also try to think up possible good gifts well ahead of birthdays and holidays to suggest to aunts, uncles, grandparents and great-grands if they ask me for suggestions.  Sometimes they take the suggestion, sometimes they don't.  Such is life.  If they give us a plastic blinking noisy toy, we say thank you and smile, and let the kids enjoy it for  as long as we can until it can, hopefully without drama, "disappear" or be willingly given by the children to goodwill or similar, or another child they feel might better enjoy it.

 

It's hard, but I try to be graceful as possible about it.  DH is not as good at being graceful, and he is much more bothered by clutter.  But you can never control completely what others will do, and so things will be given that don't match up with your priorities.  In those cases, I try to not feel guilty as I give things away.  But sometimes I let the kids keep some plastic monstrosity because they like it.  I don't have so many health concerns about plastic as you, though, mostly environmental.  But once the thing is purchased and given, the item exists and I feel like the damage is pretty much done.

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Would it be possible, since you are Kon Mari-ing stuff and having some difficulty with it, to ask some of these troublesome relatives over to help, in part so they can see firsthand what you are dealing with and perhaps they will think before offering more stuff? 

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[ETA this assumes they are asking "what can I get you," not actually handing you a gift at this moment.]  I just keep telling people "we already have ___, and we really don't have an inch of free space for anything we don't need."  :p  Also, "we don't need anything, we have so much and anything I need I have already bought."  If someone feels they must give me some sort of gift, I suggest gift cards.

 

I don't have birthday parties for the kids so they don't get more crap from everyone.  They do get it from some aunties and for Christmas.

 

I periodically go through their rooms when they aren't home and throw out junk stuff that they aren't attached to.  I will wait until its novelty has worn off so they don't feel a loss.

 

You can donate surplus toys / trinkets to schools for their fundraisers or their winter holiday shops.  Donate gifted books (after reading) to your library or local literacy program.

 

Some memorabilia might make good craft materials.

Edited by SKL
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Plastic clothes and blankets:  Synthetics like polyester are plastic fibers, plus sometimes there is also the sort of design that is an attached plastic on the fabric surface that tends to crumble off with age. Don't know a name for it, but you probably have seen it on many t-shirts. In addition to environment in general, ds has pronounced gynecomastia which may be increased by plastics exposure.   Nylon as I understand it tends to be more inert than polyester, so when such a material really is "needed" as for a jacket, I try for nylon and try for something that will last well.

 

 

How your clothes are poisoning our oceans and food supply ...
https://www.theguardian.com/.../microfibers-plastic-pollution-oceans- patagonia-synthetic-clothes-microbeads
‎
 
Jun 20, 2016 ... Now researchers are trying to pinpoint where these plastic fibers are coming ... synthetic fleece jackets release 1.7 grams of microfibers each wash. ... The fibers' size also allows them to be readily consumed by fish and other wildlife. ... Patagonia proposed the Bren School study in 2015, after polyester, the ...
Single clothes wash may release 700,000 microplastic fibres, study ...
Sep 26, 2016 ... Tiny plastic particles released by synthetic fabrics can cause harm to ... tinysynthetic particles per wash, five times more than polyester-cotton ...
Washing clothes releases thousands of microplastic particles into ...
https://phys.org/.../2016-09-thousands-microplastic-particles-environment. html
‎
 
Sep 27, 2016 ... For the study, a series of polyester, acrylic and polyester-cotton items ... This litter has negative consequences for wildlife, for economies and on human health. ... The full study – Release of Synthetic Microplastic Plastic Fibres ...
 
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This has been a very frustrating thing here too. We had a single bedroom apartment for awhile and were given a t.v. and a giant excercise ball and boy did we get in trouble for giving away things they spent good money on.

 

I don't think it has gotten much better but a little. If I just say thank you and take it, which is the polite thing to do I can't but think of the wasted money and the amount of landfill space this stuff takes up! My oldest is 17 and hints sometimes worked temporarily etc. but I've never figured out a real solution.

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some plastic material is literally old plastic bottles that are being recycled into cloth     but I think this is more likely polyester with plastic pictures on it.  Or even cotton with plastic pictures.

 

Are they just casually mentioning this stuff over the phone before they bring it over? I just can't imagine my inlaws telling me ahead of time they have a freebie tshirt for my kids. If they did, I'd just tell them we were all set for clothes. As far as the promo and garage sale items, either when they ask or hand it to you, just say "no thank you." Don't feel bad or feel like you have to explain.

When your son loses something they might want to replace, I wouldn't mention it to them unless you are confident they would only replace it with an acceptable alternative. It sounds like they are trying to be helpful but it isn't the the help you want.

I don't understand what you mean by not sleeping in plastic. Do you mean the shirts are made out of polyester?

 

They know that I am adverse to extra stuff along these lines, I think.  Not a casual mention. More like, "now, when we come on Tuesday we want to bring ABC along for Jimmy.  "

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Thank you and send it right out the door.  I do it all the time.  I do say no when it's possible without being rude.  When given a gift, it's just rude but you can do with it what you please. 

 

I love my Kleen Kanteens. LOL.

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Your additional explaination makes sense. I knew plastics increased estrogen levels, I was under the understanding that was through ingestion, especially in utereo. It's been a long time since I've done any reading on it though. My youngest son had to have a minor surgery as an infant due to a birth defect that has been linked to certain types of PET. I hadn't thought about it in a long time even though I don't let my kids eat or drink from plastic dishes.

 

Anyway, you have a legitimate medical concern. Just say no to these well meaning relatives. If your son had a severe nut allergy and they kept trying to give him nuts you would have no concerns being firm. I think you need to view this the same way. You don't have to explain the medical issue if you don't want to.

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Maybe start a collection for each kid, of very tiny things, so that gifts that fit into that are treasured?

 

My brother was really into Matchbox cars as a kid, and word got around, so he got those as gifts.  They were each very small, which was helpful.

 

I have a friend whose daughters liked specific animals.  One liked cows and the other liked pigs.  So everyone gave them little things with those animals on them.

 

 

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Well, I tell people to please not send me home with anything. No gifts or swag. No freebies. Most people just shrug but if pressed I explain we love in a shoebox. That usually gets a chuckle and the subject is dropped. My parents know to just send gift cards or event/experience stuff unless a specific approved gift has already been talked about.

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Ok, in the interest of honesty, I don't share your concerns about the polyester stuff, but... I worry about all kinds of things, so I think I understand your feelings about simply not wanting things in your house that could be toxic to you and your son.

 

And that's the thing. It's your house. You get to decide what is allowed in it. You don't have to accept things that will upset you or worry you or annoy you. It doesn't matter what other people think. Your parents don't have to agree with you in order to respect your feelings and your house rules. They should respect your rules because they love you and they don't want to upset you.

 

The only thing I can think of is that your parents may be under the impression that your son wants the plastic stuff. Does he seem interested in those things at the store? Does he go places with the grandparents and act interested in the character blankets and t-shirts? If he does, maybe that's why they keep buying him those things. They may feel like they're in a tough spot because your son seems to want the plastic stuff, yet you won't allow it, and they want to make everyone happy.

 

Whatever the case, they sound like good hearted people who are always thinking of you and your son, and they enjoy giving you gifts. I'm not a big fan of accepting things and then immediately donating them because it's such a waste of money, and it could also hurt your parents' feelings if they found out about it. (I also realize that you may ultimately have no other choice, though!) Also, how does your son feel about getting a gift of something like a plastic toy or a character blanket and then not being allowed to keep it? Is there any way to divert them to something more acceptable, like if they offer to buy your son the character blanket, could you suggest an all-cotton blanket in your son's favorite color as something he would prefer?

 

If you don't think you can get them onboard with buying more acceptable gifts, maybe you could say you can't accept any more gifts at all for a while because you're decluttering and you're not sure how much room you will have for new things until you're finished with the process. And then make it a looooooong process! ;) Or is it a possibility that the grandparents can keep the gifts at their house for your son to use while he's visiting? I know you don't like the idea of him being exposed to the materials, but having the stuff at their house would limit his exposure to them to a relatively short period of time. (That may still be too much for you -- if it is, please ignore that suggestion!)

 

I'm sorry you're worried about this stuff. I'm a worrier, too, and it's no fun. :grouphug:

Edited by Catwoman
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Luckily he is past the age of my main annoyance, polyester stuffed animals. 

 

A. They are polyester.

B. DD12 gets emotionally attached to Every Single One that comes into the house (we don't have pets, so I guess she is displacing that attachment).  They get named, they have a rotation on the bed, etc.

C. We have too many already.  Because they become emotionally attached, we can't ever get rid of one without major drama.  I don't want new ones.  I don't want even one single small new one.  Every holiday, someone thinks it's a great idea to give each kid a stuffed animal.  6 animals x 2 holidays = 12 animals per year.  If we go on like this for 5 years, we'll have 60 stuffed animals!  And we already have too many!

 

Thanks for letting me vent,  OP :)

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ds does not like to be told he cannot keep a gift once given something ... and has been told to say thank you and act gracious about gifts. But he is 15 yo., and his actual interest in a character blanket is probably not hugely greater than mine. His favorite t-shirt is solid grey.

Sorry I misunderstood which relatives you were talking about!

 

I was also thinking your son was younger. (Sorry!) At 15, I think he could come right out and say he thinks he's too old for character blankets and that he only wears plain cotton t-shirts, and that the shirts with the images on them aren't really popular among his friends. He could also say that the synthetic fabrics make him itchy. Maybe the relatives would pay attention to that, because nobody likes to be itchy.

 

Edited to add --- if there are any parts of my posts you'd like me to delete for privacy, please let me know!

Edited by Catwoman
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Luckily he is past the age of my main annoyance, polyester stuffed animals. 

 

A. They are polyester.

B. DD12 gets emotionally attached to Every Single One that comes into the house (we don't have pets, so I guess she is displacing that attachment).  They get named, they have a rotation on the bed, etc.

C. We have too many already.  Because they become emotionally attached, we can't ever get rid of one without major drama.  I don't want new ones.  I don't want even one single small new one.  Every holiday, someone thinks it's a great idea to give each kid a stuffed animal.  6 animals x 2 holidays = 12 animals per year.  If we go on like this for 5 years, we'll have 60 stuffed animals!  And we already have too many!

 

Thanks for letting me vent,  OP :)

  

 

This is actually quite similar to part of the issue here.  Except that ds gets emotionally attached without really desiring a ____ shirt, or a cruise tote bag.  This is a reason I would rather the ____ not arrive in the first place.  And for both me and ds a reason that we have a clutter problem, because it is hard for us to get rid of the whatever once it has arrived.  

 

 

And we are not in city so Good Will is a 20 mile trip.

 

In ds's case there may be an extra emotional component which is that he was a foster child who I adopted at 7yo.  Getting things and having things has added emotional overlay for him.  Loss, and change and holding on to things...  But he does not tend to use something like a rotation on the bed.  

 

Things like excess gift shirts take up drawer space and become a reason that the actually used all the time things can't be put away.  

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We have a similar situation with my parents except it's often bigger stuff. They'll call and say they have found something at Goodwill and they want to give it to DC. I say we're not really interested or into that. They say that they really want to give it to the kids and they think DC will like it so we're bringing it for them and not you. 

 

Once it was a FOOSBALL table!! I said we didn't have room we wanted to use on it. It showed up the next week in the back of their truck. Of course, DC do like it....for a minute. And then I get hurt feelings if I don't keep it because they ask about their gifts often. We also were forced to take a largish karaoke machine even though DD already had one she liked fine. The new one was slightly fancier but less age appropriate (and not used). The other kids would never use something like that. They bring bags of books the kids don't need. It's especially the tacky ones that kids like but never read. They just brought us a fancy light/sound synchronized Christmas decorating machine that I said we didn't want. We don't decorate!!! We don't put up Christmas lights!!! They brought it in, the kids were all hyped, but I don't want it. It would drive me (and the neighbors) batty to listen and see that all night long. And I don't do lights. They get hurt feelings if I get rid of things too quickly (I want the foosball table gone, but I'm scared.), and saying no is virtually impossible because they just bring it and leave it, and to press the issue would be really awkward, relationship damaging, and rude. Yes, I know they are being rude too, but they are my parents and I don't want to be estranged. 

 

So- no solutions for you and lots of sympathy. I'd take the shirt and use it for messy stuff like painting or rolling in the mud. The blanket would probably go to Goodwill after a respectable period in which I'd hope they'd forget about it. 

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Would it be possible, since you are Kon Mari-ing stuff and having some difficulty with it, to ask some of these troublesome relatives over to help, in part so they can see firsthand what you are dealing with and perhaps they will think before offering more stuff? 

 

That is how I ended up with the flower pots for my spatulas! :)

 

Have you actually sat down and explained clearly that you are trying hard to declutter and have limited space so you really cannot accept a lot of stuff?  

 

I thought so, but apparently not successfully!

 

...

Although it sounds like they are trying to connect with some of the gifts and put some thought into it, which is nice, it also sounds like they have lots of stuff they acquire that they don't want to toss out but don't want themselves.  Therefor  they think "Hey, maybe ____ could use it!"  Absolutely you have the right to simply say thanks for the thought but we don't need that at this time.  Honestly some of that stuff sounds a lot less like a gift and a lot more like they don't want stuff to clutter up their own house and don't want to toss it plus they probably know you are tight on funds so they think they are killing two birds with one stone by providing you and DS with free stuff you should be grateful for.  They get to declutter without wasting stuff and they get to be the Knights in Shining Armor showering you and DS with their generousness.  That may sound harsh and maybe isn't accurate but that is what it kind of seems like from your post.

 

...

 

 

I think that is a part of it.  

 

Also different ways of understanding environmental concerns. Like, they would think that a shirt made of recycled plastic bottles would be desirable to me, or is to them. ...

 

 

Also, relative used to be able to do activity things, experiential, with ds that were great for ds and truly much appreciated like building something together, but now relative can't do that sort of thing. So there seem maybe to be more trinket object gifts instead.  

Edited by Pen
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Oh, wait, he's 15? 

 

I think a 15yr old gets to decide if he's really worried about "sleeping in plastic" or if a non-kleen-kanteen thermos is good for him.  I think when decluttering with teens, it needs to be more like "ok, you have way too many things, I need you to pick X number of things to get rid of, here's a Kon Mari book."

I would normally agree except he has some complicated health issues, as Pen mentioned briefly up thread, so some things are potentially risking his health.  Also, there are some emotional health issues at play, also mentioned up thread.  There are more layers than just 15 year old getting some stuff from Aunt/Uncle that take up too much space which the original OP did not actually address.

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This is actually quite similar to part of the issue here.  Except that ds gets emotionally attached without really desiring a ____ shirt, or a cruise tote bag.  This is a reason I would rather the ____ not arrive in the first place.  And for both me and ds a reason that we have a clutter problem, because it is hard for us to get rid of the whatever once it has arrived.  

 

 

And we are not in city so Good Will is a 20 mile trip.

 

In ds's case there may be an extra emotional component which is that he was a foster child who I adopted at 7yo.  Getting things and having things has added emotional overlay for him.  Loss, and change and holding on to things...  But he does not tend to use something like a rotation on the bed.  

 

Things like excess gift shirts take up drawer space and become a reason that the actually used all the time things can't be put away.

I originally hadn't realized that your son is already 15. Now that I know: Have you talked with him about this? How does he feel about it? Does the extra stuff bother him at all? With his age and background maybe the act of being thought of/getting a present is more important than the value of the thing itself? Or maybe not.

 

I am not really a trinket kind of person. I mean I like them well enough but would hardly ever buy any (no practical use, where to put it etc.). But I do have a number of things for which it is true that I don't much care for the things themselves but I wouldn't get rid of them because of the sentimental value of having someone give them to me. Yes, that leads to clutter, but the emotional value might more than make up for that (as long as it isn't actual hoarding).

 

Edited after I saw your last post: You did say that trinkets are a means to replace doing things together. I guess the ideal solution would be to find other things to do together that are less hard on your relative (if possible). But if that is not possible I would try to limit/redirect gifts that are actually harmful for your son's health but would welcome the others as a sign of affection (even if they are cluttering up the house).

Edited by Twolittleboys
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Oh, wait, he's 15? 

 

I think a 15yr old gets to decide if he's really worried about "sleeping in plastic" or if a non-kleen-kanteen thermos is good for him.  I think when decluttering with teens, it needs to be more like "ok, you have way too many things, I need you to pick X number of things to get rid of, here's a Kon Mari book."

 

 

He does not sleep in shirts at all.

 

 But for whatever reason, I felt unable to say that. It was presented in a very strong way like: of course the shirt will be way too big for him to wear in public, but he can sleep in it.  

 

 

There is already another non Kleen Kanteen thermos bouncing around in our car under the passenger seat. Unused. And I have already gotten rid of 2 other such things taking cupboard space  in the kitchen.

 

 

I want to feel like this is positive or focus on that it is the thought that counts. But I also do think there is a big aspect to it of wanting to feel good about getting rid of junk they don't want. Ds did not even want to get his own freebies from the summer library reading program, where he could have chosen, but if it is a "gift" it ends up in another category and becomes harder to say no to.  For both him and me.

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I originally hadn't realized that your son is already 15. Now that I know: Have you talked with him about this? How does he feel about it? Does the extra stuff bother him at all? With his age and background maybe the act of being thought of/getting a present is more important than the value of the thing itself? Or maybe not.

 

I am not really a trinket kind of person. I mean I like them well enough but would hardly ever buy any (no practical use, where to put it etc.). But I do have a number of things for which it is true that I don't much care for the things themselves but I wouldn't get rid of them because of the sentimental value of having someone give them to me. Yes, that leads to clutter, but the emotional value might more than make up for that (as long as it isn't actual hoarding).

 

Edited after I saw your last post: You did say that trinkets are a means to replace doing things together. I guess the ideal solution would be to find other things to do together that are less hard on your relative (if possible). But if that is not possible I would try to limit/redirect gifts that are actually harmful for your son's health but would welcome the others as a sign of affection (even if they are cluttering up the house).

 

 

The  clutter does bother him, yes.  A lot.   And at the same time parting with things seems to be hard.  

 

I wonder if there could be other approaches like taking a photo of the gift.

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We have a similar situation with my parents except it's often bigger stuff. They'll call and say they have found something at Goodwill and they want to give it to DC. I say we're not really interested or into that. They say that they really want to give it to the kids and they think DC will like it so we're bringing it for them and not you. 

 

Once it was a FOOSBALL table!! I said we didn't have room we wanted to use on it. It showed up the next week in the back of their truck. Of course, DC do like it....for a minute. And then I get hurt feelings if I don't keep it because they ask about their gifts often. We also were forced to take a largish karaoke machine even though DD already had one she liked fine. The new one was slightly fancier but less age appropriate (and not used). The other kids would never use something like that. They bring bags of books the kids don't need. It's especially the tacky ones that kids like but never read. They just brought us a fancy light/sound synchronized Christmas decorating machine that I said we didn't want. We don't decorate!!! We don't put up Christmas lights!!! They brought it in, the kids were all hyped, but I don't want it. It would drive me (and the neighbors) batty to listen and see that all night long. And I don't do lights. They get hurt feelings if I get rid of things too quickly (I want the foosball table gone, but I'm scared.), and saying no is virtually impossible because they just bring it and leave it, and to press the issue would be really awkward, relationship damaging, and rude. Yes, I know they are being rude too, but they are my parents and I don't want to be estranged. 

 

So- no solutions for you and lots of sympathy. I'd take the shirt and use it for messy stuff like painting or rolling in the mud. The blanket would probably go to Goodwill after a respectable period in which I'd hope they'd forget about it. 

 

 

Like this.  Yes. Smaller stuff, but basically the same situation.

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Like this.  Yes. Smaller stuff, but basically the same situation.

 

And I get your DS wanting to keep it. My DD has a big outdated globe in her room. The countries are all wrong. I want to get rid of it because it's big but every time I try, I hear, "But it's from Grandma!!" Does she ever use the globe? No. Is it useful to anyone these days? No. Is it taking up space and making it harder for her to use her room? Yes. Is DD sentimentally attached to everything?? Yes. 

 

It makes us the bad guys, but we've got to do something or the kids will grow up living like hoarders.   :cursing:

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Your additional explaination makes sense. I knew plastics increased estrogen levels, I was under the understanding that was through ingestion, especially in utereo. It's been a long time since I've done any reading on it though. My youngest son had to have a minor surgery as an infant due to a birth defect that has been linked to certain types of PET. I hadn't thought about it in a long time even though I don't let my kids eat or drink from plastic dishes.

 

Anyway, you have a legitimate medical concern. Just say no to these well meaning relatives. If your son had a severe nut allergy and they kept trying to give him nuts you would have no concerns being firm. I think you need to view this the same way. You don't have to explain the medical issue if you don't want to.

 

 

For the shirts, could he wear them over an undershirt, to limit contact? 

 

Otherwise, yeah, for stuff that isn't meaningful (flower pot, canteen, etc) just say, "Oh, thank you but we already have one/don't need another/don't have space for it." For something that you feel you must take, just donate it later. 

 

 

Could he wear the tshirt just once, when they are around? And then donate?

 

 

I just reviewed some of the info on this subject.  Over another shirt would help since it would not add to direct absorption through the skin, but would not help in terms of the air or what happens when something is washed.  Putting it on right then when they are there so they can see it on him and then donating would be an option if he chose that.  Here's someone else's concerns about t-shirts:

 

http://www.ecomall.com/greenshopping/planet2.htm

 

"BEWARE TOXIC T-SHIRTS  

During production, disposal and combustion of PVC, large quantities of dioxins form as a common, albeit undesirable, by-product. Dioxin's reputation as the most toxic man made chemical created should not be taken lightly. Most attention focuses on dioxins' carcinogenicity, but it is also a potent hormone disrupter, causing an alarming alteration in testosterone levels.

Dioxin is also known to alter concentrations of thyroid hormone. Balanced thyroid function is essential to correct development and growth of the brain and nervous system. Incorrect thyroid hormone levels are known to cause low birth weight, hyperactivity, impaired learning and memory.

Phthalates, another hormone disrupter, make PVC flexible. ...

T-shirt printing has gone virtually unrecognized in its relationship to use of PVC, though almost all t-shirts are printed with plastisol.

 
...
 
You may never have considered that "beautiful" t-shirt you're wearing is emitting dioxin and phthalate vapors right under your nose!"
 
 
 
He is 15. But I am the one who deals with his learning issues, his hyperactivity issues, other emotional issues etc.  I cannot do anything about what his birth mother did when she was pregnant with him. I cannot do anything about his having been given soy formula as a baby. There are only a certain number of things I can control now, and they grow fewer all the time.  And maybe this is already not one of them. But if it were not to arrive in first place it would be easier.  I wish I had just read the above before they mentioned the shirt on phone and just said no then.  
 
Maybe I should forward them the above or also the links about plastics and wildlife.
 
 
 
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That all sounds really hard.

 

Do you think it would appeal to your son to donate new items to a foster care ministry? There are groups here that collect clothing etc for foster families. Animal shelters often need blankets.

 

 

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Another one I looked at in trying to decide about the approach to take to the shirt that could be of interest to some. Or not.  It is long. I just quoted some of interest on gynecomastia, but also that went on in re ADHD and learning issues that many of us deal with in our kids.

 

 

 

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3572204/

 

"Among boys, a small study conducted in Turkey reported that plasma concentrations of high molecular weight phthalates were significantly higher in 11 to 15 year olds with pubertal gynecomastia compared to a control group.48 Additional studies on EDC exposure and pubertal development are greatly needed due to the current lack of human data.

3.4. Neurodevelopment

Neurodevelopmental disorders are prevalent in the US and worldwide, with evidence that rates of certain disorders, such as attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have been increasing in recent years.49–52 While it is likely that these trends are attributable to numerous factors, including changes in diagnostic practices, there is growing evidence that exposure to EDCs may play a significant role. Sex steroid hormones are vital to central nervous system development. Thus, developing neuroendocrine systems may be particularly sensitive to EDC exposure.53 Longitudinal and/or cross-sectional human studies have related exposure to EDCs, both in utero and during early childhood, and neurodevelopmental disorders such as decreased IQ, poorer memory, ASD, ADHD, and other behavioral problems.54 These data are most robust for PCBs55 and pesticides.56 However, there is recent evidence that certain phthalates may be associated with each of these endpoints1354"

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Konmari was pretty clear about not Konmariing OTHER people's stuff. He's 15. He's only home a few more years. Deflect what you can, let him keep what he wants, and box it ALL up and drop it on his doorstep the MINUTE he gets his own place :-) It'll go by in a blink.

 

ETA: Could you get him to go for a One In One Out philosophy. Let him control what he keeps, plastic or not, but he has to rehome a similar item to make space.

Edited by KungFuPanda
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