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Too old for plushies?

My mom wants me to get rid of my childhood toys, but I don’t want to! Should I be more grown-up at nearly 18?

Our elder has some tips on how to approach the conversation.

Dear EWC

So I’m 17 years old, almost 18, but I have at least 100 plushies and my room is really childish. My mother says that I have to give them away and keep one or two but just the thought of it makes me wanna cry. I love my kid-looking room and I admit I’m still liking all the things kids like and it’s not affecting me badly so I don’t see a problem. However, now and then I think about it and how I should grow up someday. Please tell me what I can and should do.

Ellen replies

As I read your letter, I couldn’t help but think of our youngest son, who is now 31 and has been married for a year. From the time he was a little kid, he was always emotionally attached to everything he ever had, everyone he ever knew, and never wanted to part with anything. He still has all his GI Joe dolls (in storage), and his Where The Wild Things Are stuffed animals are sitting on his living room window! When one of his close friends got married, he gave him GI Joe cufflinks as a wedding gift! So I can definitely identify with both you and your mom.

At 17 you are approaching an important transitional time in your life. I don’t know what your plans are for the future, but you will be finishing up your high school experiences, and having to make choices about what comes next. It can be a confusing and complicated time for both you and your family. Admittedly, you are on the cusp of turning a corner between childhood and adulthood, which may be what your mother is seeing. At the same time, however, it can be very comforting and reassuring for you to be surrounded by these childhood mementos. Your room is your private space where you can relax and feel grounded as you think about your future and where it will take you.

Here are some suggestions for how you might approach this issue with your mom. Do you have any older siblings or relatives who may have gone through this transition? If so, ask them how they handled things at your age: did they hold on to any of their childhood items, how did they feel about letting them go, and might they have any advice for you. Speak to your friends to see if they are dealing with the same thing or not. That might give you some perspective as well. Then speak to your mother openly, and ask her what she did at your age. Did she have any things that meant a lot to her from her childhood, what did she do with them, and how old was she at that point? Did she redo her room, or did she leave the house at 18? When I graduated high school and went away to college it was very comforting for me to come home to my old room and everything that was familiar.

In the end, I believe that at 17 (almost 18), you are at an age when you are going to start making very important decisions about your life, and many personal choices about your lifestyle. There are many open and frank conversations you and your parents undoubtedly will be having as you begin the journey to adulthood and exert your independence. Having this conversation about your bedroom as a calm and rational exchange may be a stepping stone to those future conversations. I encourage you to ask your mom to sit down and discuss this with you, and to respect your feelings as you explain why maintaining it this way is important to you. Be willing to listen, and to express yourself calmly. If you can do that in an adult way, I have a sense your mom may change her mind. As a mom, I know how hard it is to accept that your child is evolving, and it can be a challenging time on both ends.
I hope you are able to negotiate this bump in the road successfully, and that it will be the basis for what is yet to come. Please let me know how this gets resolved, and I sincerely wish you all the best down the road!
And as a PS — I am in my late sixties, and I still have the one-eyed, furless, cocker spaniel stuffed animal that was my favorite ‘go to’ toy as a young kid!

Letter #: 449515
Category: Self-Improvement

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