DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: After my father-in-law and mother-in-law separated, he moved into a two-bedroom condo with a small storage room off the balcony. It is actually a very spacious apartment for just one person. The trouble is, when he left the house he and his wife shared for nearly 35 years, he took all his stuff, including everything he had in his garage tool shop and a bunch of boxes from the attic with things his parents left him when they died.
All this stuff already fills the storage room and the second bedroom, takes up half his bedroom, and has spilled out into the kitchen/dining-living room area on the ground floor. When we bring our three-year-old son to visit his grandpa, who he truly loves, we don’t feel that it is a safe environment for our son, even though we all keep constant watch on him.
Both my husband and I have told my father-in-law that he should at least rent a storage unit to keep some of the things in, but he doesn’t seem to really hear what we are saying. The next step is to stop visiting him with our son, which I think would really hurt him. But don’t you agree our son’s safety is more important? --- WATCHING OUT FOR OUR SON
DEAR WATCHING OUT FOR OUR SON: Yes, I agree with you that your son’s safety is paramount, and certainly more important than sparing your father-in-law’s feelings. It might just be the wake-up call he needs to declutter his condo, not only for your son’s sake, but for his own as well. In my experience, clutter equals stress, and one thing we can all do without is additional, avoidable stress in our lives.