How hoarding parents affect their children’s health

Credit: Dim Hou / Unsplash.

Hoarder parents, or parents who excessively gather and store items, have a unique impact on their children.

Their habits can shape not only the physical environment but also the emotional climate at home.

It’s an issue often overlooked, but the impact on children’s health can be significant.

Let’s take a closer look at the evidence and the larger picture of how hoarding affects kids.

Hoarding: Not Just Clutter

To understand how hoarding can affect children, it’s important first to understand what hoarding is. Hoarding is a mental health disorder.

People who hoard collect items excessively and have a hard time getting rid of them. Their homes become crowded with things, making it hard to use rooms for their intended purpose.

The clutter can be overwhelming. It’s more than just a messy house. It’s a space filled with so much stuff that it’s difficult to move, clean, or even find what you need.

This environment can lead to several problems for children living in it.

A Crowded Space: Physical Health Risks

Children in hoarding homes are exposed to multiple physical health risks.

A study in the American Journal of Public Health reported that hoarding houses often have issues like mold, pests, and structural damage. These problems can lead to allergies, asthma, and even injuries.

Another research article in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that children living in cluttered homes had a higher risk of lead poisoning.

This is because lead dust can gather on objects and be accidentally ingested by kids.

Growing Up in Chaos: Mental Health Concerns

Living in a hoarding home doesn’t just affect a child’s physical health. It can also impact their mental health.

A study in the Journal of Child and Family Studies found that children growing up in hoarding homes were more likely to develop depression, anxiety, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Researchers in another study published in the Child Abuse and Neglect journal noted that these children also often experience social isolation.

The clutter makes it hard to invite friends over, leading to feelings of shame and loneliness.

Parenting Amidst Clutter: Relationship Strains

Beyond the individual child’s health, hoarding can strain the parent-child relationship. A study in the British Journal of Social Work found that children of hoarders often felt frustrated and angry about the clutter.

They also felt that their parents prioritized the hoarded items over them. This tension can affect the child’s emotional well-being and development.

The Bigger Picture: A Cycle of Hoarding

Perhaps the most significant impact of hoarding is its cyclical nature. According to a study in the American Journal of Psychiatry, children who grow up in hoarding homes are more likely to become hoarders themselves.

This cycle continues, passing the problem and its health impacts from one generation to the next.

Finding a Path Forward

Understanding the impact of hoarding on children’s health is an essential step towards finding solutions.

Treatment for hoarding disorder exists, and it often involves cognitive-behavioral therapy, where a mental health professional helps the person understand why they hoard and how to make changes.

Research is ongoing, and every study brings us one step closer to helping families affected by hoarding. If you or someone you know is dealing with this disorder, please seek professional help.

Hoarding is a complex problem that affects not just the person who hoards but also their family.

Awareness about its impacts, especially on children’s health, is a crucial part of addressing the issue. After all, a safe and healthy home is the right of every child.

If you care about mental health, please read studies about 6 foods you can eat to improve mental health, and B vitamins could help prevent depression and anxiety.

For more information about mental health, please see recent studies about how dairy foods may influence depression risk, and results showing Omega-3 fats may help reduce depression.

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