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being hyper posessive over material stuff

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 
I am having a bit of a debate/issue with my middle child.

She is hyper possesive over her stuff.

Ex - her younger sister put on high heels she bought for Halloween last year (and has rarely worn since) and older DD told in her a cold tone: get.my.shoes.off.

She has done this over other things - including an air mattress last week (that did even belong to her - but she was using)

She maintains it is reasonable that people ask to borrow her stuff - I think it is reasonable, but perhaps she needs to:

a) work on pointing these things out nicely
b) do you have to get possesive over every little thing? What does does it matter if little sister uses your shoes? I would like to cultivate a little bit more of a climate of genorousity and not worry so much about whether "you got yours".

Some of this is triggering for me. One of my sisters is like this - incredibly possessive over her stuff - and it has been the source of much stress between her and I (or, well, anybody) over the years. If I visit my mom (whom my sister lives with) you have to be careful not to use "J's" cup, or slip on her slippers, or read a book/magazine that is lying around without her permission. It is a bit much and does not always make her a well liked person.

Any advice?
post #2 of 35
Your DD's reaction could be about personal boundaries instead of material possessiveness. If someone uses her stuff without asking that means the person went in her private space to get it. The real issue could be she doesn't feel she has enough privacy or space for things that are just hers. It is reasonable that she wants people ask before borrowing her stuff. If her reaction is coming from feelings that her boundaries are being violated then it may be hard for her to react in a nice and polite manner.
post #3 of 35
I was like this growing up.

I felt like my mom did not give my little sister ANY boundaries for personal space and personal possessions and I had to do it myself.

I cant tell you how to fix it, but that is why I was like that. Im a bit more relaxed about it as an adult (perhaps when I was finally able to have my own house with my own stuff it helped) but it still bothers me to this day that my little sister will take and use things that do not belong to her without permission.
post #4 of 35
Thread Starter 
No one had to go into her personal space to get things. Both the shoes and air mattress were in the living room.

No one ever goes in her room without asking - people are pretty good about rooms.
post #5 of 35
I am the oldest. I have two younger brothers who were rougher and less careful than I am with things. Because I am the oldest, there was always an expectation that I would "act like a big kid and share" and "just let him have it, he's the baby" and that kind of thing. Nevermind the constant expectation that I was the only one "old enough to know better." It kinda sucked.

I'm careful with my things. I'm neat, I put them away, I know where they are and I'm not rough with them. I value the things I buy for myself (and select them carefully) as well as the things given to me by other people. My brothers were TOTALLY the opposite - broken things left all over the place and who knows where all the pieces are. Yes, I was protective of my stuff. It was also, in my way, trying to create some space and boundaries for myself.

As much as you are trying to teach one of your kids to be more generous, I think it is equally important to work on expecting the others to ask before using things that aren't theirs. If your middle child sees that her things (and by extension, she herself) are given a little more respect, it will be easier for her to be generous in the first place.

If it helps, I have grown up to be a generous person and I have a good relationship with my siblings. I will happily give or share whatever I have, but I still don't like people rifling in my stuff or taking without asking. It's just basic respect for another person to ask before using their things. My brothers are still careless with their own things and you can bet anything they borrow will never be seen again (this includes money).

A big part of my being someone who needs space to myself is that no one ever respected my space when I was growing up. My parents did what was easiest for them (just let them in your room, what can it hurt) and children weren't allowed to "own" things in the same way adults were. My things were really just the possessions the grown ups were allowing me to have and if they said it was ok for a brother to take something then just suck it up. There was basic respect lacking all around. I think if my parents had ever said, "look those things aren't yours and even if she isn't using them RIGHT THIS MOMENT it's just common courtesy to ask to borrow them and return them in the same shape you got them in," I might have been a lot less possessive because I wouldn't have felt the need to protect everything.
post #6 of 35
Thread Starter 
yes - you are both probably right. I probably do not set huge boundaries around stuff with my kids, because:

a: I am not overly materialistic
b: I do not want to be on my kids cases over every little thing. They are shoes - let it go.

I know on some level, DD is right. Her stuff - she has the right to be asked to use it.

I simply feel (vent coming on) that if I correct someone every time they do any little infraction, I will be correcting people all day long. Literally (and mostly over housework). It would not make for a very peaceful household - and I value peace over being right 100% of the time. I want people to learn to fight over the big things - but not sweat everything.

Ah, well, this may be my value - peace over being right - it does not mean it is hers, though.

I need to help older DD find the words to relay her boundaries without judging the boundary.

I am sure the fact that this is day 20 of unrelenting heat and humidity has not brought out the best in everyone. Without dismissing the issue, it probably does come into play

edited to add: just read your post, NiteNicole. Thank you. I do see a bit of myself in your parents - taking the path that is easiest. Parenting is hard - and sometimes we (well I ) do take the easier path rather than engage in what is sure to be stressing. I guess I just have to pull up my big girl pants and deal, though, because older DD is trying to set limits and I should support that, and younger DD does not deserve to be snapped at - and maybe I can help the older one feel more validated and less in need of harsh words/attitude.
post #7 of 35
Have you asked your DD why it bothers her so much when someone uses her stuff without asking? It's good she has her own room, but it still could be more a issue about respect and personal boundaries than possessiveness. You don't have to correct anyone. You could let them deal with or just have a general talk "Hey it's hot, we're all getting annoyed with each other. Lets just try to be a bit nicer." A person's temperament determines whether they are able to "not sweat everything" and also how firm their personal boundaries are.

My little sister got into my stuff, and as long as it wasn't my diary or writing journal and I had things to read, I didn't care. But that was my temperament not your DD's. I also value peace over being right, so I understand your annoyance. I just thought if it was a personal boundary issue it might be easier to deal with than if it's simple possessiveness.
post #8 of 35
Its not materialistic in my eyes. Its less about the things themselves than the lack of respect and personal privacy it shows of those things being used without permission.

Especially as you get closer to teenage years, you need to know that you have that respect and are not expected to give it all up for the sake of your parents not having to parent you.
post #9 of 35
Quote:
Have you asked your DD why it bothers her so much when someone uses her stuff without asking?
adding onto this. Have you asked the other 2 kids why they take her stuff, or stuff she is using, without asking permission?

If your kids were younger I could see getting upset at your dd, but at 14, 11 & 7 they should already know to ask permission before using something that isn't thier.

There is also the possibility of the other 2 kids purposely antagonizing the 11yo to get her in trouble/negative attention and they know this is the easiest button.
post #10 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post
No one had to go into her personal space to get things. Both the shoes and air mattress were in the living room.

No one ever goes in her room without asking - people are pretty good about rooms.
Then you need to reinforce to her, if she doesn't want to share something then it needs to be in her room.

If you want people to respect your boundaries you have define them in a reasonable manner. Living stuff open in a public space (living room) means free assess.
post #11 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MaerynPearl View Post

Especially as you get closer to teenage years, you need to know that you have that respect and are not expected to give it all up for the sake of your parents not having to parent you.
That is harsh. There is an element of truth in it - but it is still (unjustifiably) harsh.

I look at the big picture, I don't chose to spend my day in turmoil over little things, and I do let smaller things go.

I was, in some ways , trying to model that we do not get upset over little things to DD- that it is not a harmonious way to live our lives.

Now it could be that is not the approach she needs - that she needs to have her stuff respected before she can learn to live in harmony

None-the-less, my decisions to this point do not stem primarily from unparenting.

Moreover, I would be shocked (and disbelieving) if all parents here claim they always deal with every issue - it is too exhausting a way to live your life. While it clear something has to change (and I as the adult have to be the one to initiate it) I do not apologise for avoiding on occasion. I live in this house and make my own calls and when it is appropriate to deal or not.

I wonder if your post has something to do with the fact you feel your sibling and parents did not respect your boundaries/ stuff - and less about me, because you really do not know me from Adam.

Now I sound harsh - but really, accusing someone of unparenting on a website is over the top.
post #12 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssh View Post
Have you asked your DD why it bothers her so much when someone uses her stuff without asking?
Quote:
Originally Posted by CarrieMF View Post
adding onto this. Have you asked the other 2 kids why they take her stuff, or stuff she is using, without asking permission?

.
No, I haven't spoken to my DD's - but I will ask them. Good advice!
post #13 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marsupialmom View Post
Then you need to reinforce to her, if she doesn't want to share something then it needs to be in her room.

If you want people to respect your boundaries you have define them in a reasonable manner. Living stuff open in a public space (living room) means free assess.
I kind of agree. DD doesn't. That is partly where the issue is.

Logistically though, not everything stays in bedrooms - shoes do not, nor do items she is using.
----------------------------

I have trouble knowing what belongs to who (which might be partly why . The shoes, for example, I thought they were a free dress up pair - and did not really realise they were the 11 year old until she informed me. This happens all the time - DD gets annoyed over younger DD touching something I did not even realise she owned. Example - DD 11 was mad at DD 7 last week over something completely off topic; DD7 starts playing with a toy - and DD11 is all like "that is my toy - stop playing with it." Well, you know what? This was a preschooler toy acquired years ago - and I have no idea who it belongs to! I refuse to be the police of stuff (much of it junk) - which is the role I often find myself in.
post #14 of 35
I am definitely NOT materialistic but it drove me CRAZY when my little sister would 'steal' clothes etc. from me growing up.

1 - We had 4 kids in my family & didn't have separate bedrooms (except my brother) so there weren't ever any clear boundaries. Most of our toys etc. were 'shared' toys. So the few things that were mine, I wanted to keep mine. I just needed a way of expressing my desire for personal boundaries.

2 - The youngest sister was 4 years younger than me, which is HUGE when you're 12 -- I found it terribly embarassing when my 8yo sister wanted to wear my shoes. I now know it was a form of admiration but at the time I felt humiliated that my style or my toys appealed to an 8yo, as if the things I liked were 'babyish'... if that makes any sense.

3 - I think it is important that kids have their own things & have their boundaries respected. It's what we teach them every day. Just yesterday I had to tell toddler DS that no, he couldn't have his friend's cup, and no, he couldn't play on someone's wheelchair at the side of the playground. I don't think that asking kids to respect other's items is gearing them up toward being materialistic.

I would consider encouraging her to choose some items that her siblings can 'borrow' without asking (i.e. encourage sharing within her limits) & then I would consider encouraging the other kids to be more respectful of their sister's items.
post #15 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post
I kind of agree. DD doesn't. That is partly where the issue is.

Logistically though, not everything stays in bedrooms - shoes do not, nor do items she is using.
----------------------------

I have trouble knowing what belongs to who (which might be partly why ...
Well in the real world there are things that belong to others in communal areas (cars in the parking lots, coats in a coatroom, etc.) so maybe as a family you could figure out ways to delineate which items belong to each kid? Whether that's using a label-maker to identify items commonly left in the living room, or giving each kid a bin in the entry way for their items -- something on that idea?
post #16 of 35
I face this issue daily, lol. I was a younger sister to an emotionally bullying older brother (he is very materialistic, possesive, vindictive and mean) and as a child we had many instances like you've described. So, when I had kids I worked really hard at breaking this cycle (in my case it's a genetic issue- my dad was this way, my brother, and then my ds) and we have been working on boundaries and rules regarding toy's, clothes and objects since then. I make the kids ASK and SHARE, and not every one is happy all the time, but we try very very hard to be fair. We have a rule that all toys are for sharing, after the first month lol. If DS1 and DS2 get new toys they have to ask to play with the other's toy for the first month, after that they are all "OUR" toy's. It's the only way it works in this house. I also make a point to ask the kids "How would you feel if you wanted the toy and your bother/sister wouldn't share?" and we discuss these topics. They almost always want to share and to feel that the other sibling is happy. We don't allow the kids to Ever take a toy out of someone else's hands though. That's our #1 rule.

I would talk to your oldest DD and explain why this upsets you, that when your sister behaves this way you feel that she values her Stuff more than she value's you. Tell her that while she is right that some things are HERS, she also should be aware that the little sister is trying to be like her. Little sister wants to know how it feels to be older and bigger and that it's your job to make sure that DD2 is carefull with DD1's stuff- but maybe if she spent some time playing with DD2 then little sister may be more apt to ask before she just takes stuff.
post #17 of 35
I think that toys belong to everyone in the family, dress up shoes that went with a halloween outfit, yeah you got them for halloween last year, but guess what now they are a toy/item/dress up thing anyone can use.

the air mattress that belongs to the entire family, well it belongs to the entire family

a old toy that maybe was *given* to you when you were 3 and now you are 7 and a 3 yo is playing with, well it belongs to everyone, the entire family has access to it.

I might have gotten a blender from dp's parents one year for my birthday, but dp doesn't have to ask me to use the blender, its for everyone to use because we live together.

now, snatching, delibertly taking someone's lovey, purposfully taking something someone else was using while they are in the bathroom etc is an issue to deal with.
post #18 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by kathymuggle View Post
I wonder if your post has something to do with the fact you feel your sibling and parents did not respect your boundaries/ stuff - and less about me, because you really do not know me from Adam.
Yes that post was about me and how it made me feel like my mom would rather not parent my sister, or ask her to respect my boundaries, than to value my feelings as an individual... not about you or your situation. It was when i was 12/13 when this was becoming an issue.

However, I cant say your daughter isn't feeling the exact same way about it.
post #19 of 35
She's 11, right? (from your siggie?) I think part of it is just the age. Particularly when the request to leave it alone comes with attitude instead of politeness. And that doesn't excuse it, but it might help you realize that she's not bringing attitude just out of being materialistic or possesive, but just out of being 11. So I would suggest addressing the rudeness as rudeness-excuse me, that's not how we speak to people. Apologize for being rude and request politely that your stuff be left alone. And, really, if you want your stuff left alone, don't leave it out for everyone. Or something like that, you get the idea.
post #20 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marsupialmom View Post
Then you need to reinforce to her, if she doesn't want to share something then it needs to be in her room.

If you want people to respect your boundaries you have define them in a reasonable manner. Living stuff open in a public space (living room) means free assess.
Why does stuff in public places supposedly mean free access? Lots of things are in public places that are not just free for the taking or using. Heck even my dog was able to learn that one particular toy belonged to the puppy and she wasn't allowed to play with it, ( because her big strong teeth and jaw would ruin his teether). If I can teach that to my dog, surely children of a certain age should be able to learn it. Obviously as is age appropriate.
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