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home : columns : dear harriette February 25, 2021

12/17/2020 7:38:00 AM
Parents move college student's belongings out of room

DEAR HARRIETTE: I just started college this year, and I live on campus. I came home for the holidays this week and found my bedroom was not my bedroom. All of my clothes and childhood items were boxed up in the garage, as was my furniture. My parents switched their in-home gym from the garage to my bedroom. They told me that I can have my room back; I just need to switch everything myself, and before I leave again, I need to put all of my personal belongings and furniture back into the garage and make sure their workout machines are set up correctly.

That is a lot of work for me to do alone; everything is big and heavy, and they won't help me. I would just sleep in the garage, but it's winter and there's no heat in there -- which is why they moved their gym inside the house in the first place. I feel cornered and unwelcome in my own home. I have no place there. I'm thinking of just taking my stuff and spending the holidays alone back at school. Is that too dramatic? What else can I do? -- Kicked Out

DEAR KICKED OUT: Talk to your parents. Tell them how you feel. Point out that you cannot manage moving all of those items back and forth by yourself. Ask for their help.

Is there anyplace else in the house where you can sleep? Is there a sofa in the family room or some other perch that could potentially be yours temporarily? Look around and see what options might be available to you at home.

If you do not come up with options and your parents remain unyielding, check with your school to see if staying in the dorm is even an option. I recently spoke to the provost of a large university who told me that during this COVID-19 year, dorms are closed with the exception of students who literally have nowhere to go. You may be able to stay in your dorm if you truly cannot figure out a workable option at home.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My teenage daughter is terrible at follow-through. She recently had a birthday and received a few gifts from family members and friends, but she has not called or sent a note to say thank you. These people went out of their way to do something nice for her at a time when it takes even more effort than before. The least she could do is acknowledge it. I don't want to punish her for this negligence; instead, I want her to become more thoughtful. What should I do? -- Bad Manners

DEAR BAD MANNERS: Sit down with your daughter with a box of notecards and invite her to write a note to each person who gave her a present. If she squirms, tell her the time is now, and she has to do it. If some of the people communicate with her via text, invite her to text them a thank-you, preferably with a photo of her and the gift.

Do not leave her side until she completes this task, even if she balks. Talk to her about the gifts. Encourage her to tell the people who gave her these items what she likes about them and how much she appreciates their generosity. Reinforce the act of gratitude as a sign of being a good person -- something she should cultivate as she moves into adulthood.

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