, Advice by Ann Landers - []
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Section: manners, children, relationships

Dear Ann Landers,
I have a wife and two sons, ages 15 and 12. I love them dearly, but they are so scatterbrained, they drive me nuts. They constantly are losing keys, glasses, hairbrushes and wallets. They put empty peanut butter jars back in the cabinet and containers in the fridge without the tops screwed on. I once found my wife's purse in the freezer. I am one of those people who likes everything in its place. I have started hiding items from my family so I can find them when needed. I used to lend my wife and kids the scissors or Scotch tape, but I would never see those things again. Now, I refuse to let my family use any of my belongings. I'm sure I drive them as crazy as they drive me, but the truth is, they are the ones who need to change. I have pleaded with them to recognize how frustrating their forgetfulness is to me, but they simply laugh and ask, "Where's the TV remote?" (We have at least three, none of which they can locate.) Do you have a solution to this problem? -- Left-Brained in South Carolina

Dear Left-Brained,
I can tell you they will never change, so stop eating yourself up over their "forgetfulness." It must be difficult for a neatnik such as you to live with slobs, but accept with grace that which you cannot change. It's a no-hoper.

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A Note from Margo:
Hi! It's Margo here. I'd love to know what you think of the letters -- and the answers!

Also, any additional thoughts you might have. Thanks!

Totsybug's Comment
Continue to hide whatever you need/use on a regular basis so those items will be there when you need them. Let your wife and kids fend for themselves. Don't even think about loaning your items to them to use unless you want them to be lost/misplaced.

Ky's Comment
Perhaps I'm being harsh, but loving them "dearly," is not the same as loving them unconditionally. I would suggest that, if you're starting to divide everything in the house into yours and theirs, and "lending" them your stuff, you might feel better with a little counseling to explore why you feel more worried about where the remote is than being grateful for a healthy, relaxed family. When I was growing up, everything in the house was "ours."

Chicken Lady 's Comment
I used to find my husbands husband's tools all over the place, even up and down the road into town! Then he'd buy new tools to replace the ones "somebody" stole, plus other ones that caught his eye. I just got a bucket and painted on it "the stuff you lost". Then I made a point of placing it on his work bench and everytime he was in there I'd put the wrenches,keys, sunglasses,pruners or whatever I'd found in his bucket. Pretty soon he got the message and became more careful.

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ben there's Comment
For "Ladybug in South Carolina" - Buy a roll of very wide tape from the craft aisle (I use bright red, with a polka-dot pattern) and tape the backs of your family's TV remotes, cell-phones, and wallets. This has helped us not lose things. And while you're at it, label your key ring, and tape the back of your phone, with a message reading "Finder, please call (my spouse's number)".

ben there's Comment
for "Left-brained in South Carolina" Buy a roll of extra-wide tape at the craft aisle (I use bright red, with polka dots) and tape the backs your family's cell phones, TV remotes, and both sides of your wallets. This has helped my family not misplace items. And while you're at it, I suggest tagging your key-rings, and taping the backs of your cell phones, with the message "Finder, please call (my spouse's number)." Problem solved.

Reader Comment
I don't agree with Ann landers reply to "Left-Brained'. He's not a 'neatnick'. His family are inconsiderate slobs and I don't blame him for not wanting to let them take whatever they want and not return it to where is should be. That is so lazy on their part and they should be made aware that they will not be able to have access to the item again if it's not returned to where it should be. His wife's purse in the freezer? I hope he left it there so she would need to search the house for it when she needed it. What bunch of dingbats.

streips's Comment
My mother always said where was the last place you saw it?

Reader Comment
Dear "Left-brained": Have your scatter-brained wife and sons MARK all their valuables with BRIGHT TAPE. I cover my entire wallet, the backside of my smartphone, the TV remotes, and my eyeglass case, with 2-inch wide RED tape, with polka dots (from Wal-Mart or craft stores).

Reader Comment
Dear "Left-brained": Have your scatter-brained wife and sons MARK all their valuables with BRIGHT TAPE. I cover my entire wallet, the backside of my smartphone, the TV remotes, screwdriver, and eyeglass case, with 2-inch wide RED tape, with polka dots (from Wal-Mart or craft stores).

Juice's Comment
Left Brain, have you

Jon's Comment
This is typical boy behavior. I cannot explain my wife let alone yours

Oakleigh 's Comment
Oakleigh Tadgh

Rxn's Comment
the theory of left and right brain was rejected long ago. ot is pop culture. the theory of conditional love has gone down that same trail into history. boundaries and consequences for actions are the current methods.

Reader Comment
Hey pal, my wife and kids are the same way. They used to "borrow" my things and then never return them or return the items damaged. Very frustrating. I now never loan any items to my family members and keep all of my important personal items locked up in my home office. If they need scissors, its on them. As far as empty food containers, just throw those out. If they need more peanut butter, they can buy it at the store. If they leave items out on the counter and it bothers you, throw those items away. They will never change, especially your spouse.

Reader Comment
Look into ADD/ADHD. It runs in families and from what you've said, it sure sounds like a strong possibility, in which case these people cannot help being extra forgetful. The suggestion above about the brightly colored tape was a good one. Medication can help a lot, especially with organization skills. I hope you look into it. Medication has made my life a million times easier, and for my family as well.

Moon space 's Comment
Don't take that stupid advice about throwing OTHER PEOPLE'S BELONGINGS AWAY!!! You can clear the stuff off, but trashing someone's belongings is the same as stealing. Get a box or choose a shelf or drawer to put the items in.

Reader Comment
The ADD/ADHD advice above is a good one. If this is the case, it may be a relief for all of you to realize this is not a matter of who’s the “inconsiderate slob” or the “neatnik”: it’s a different kind of problem, and hopefully it can be addressed with less resentment. But even if that’s the case, it does not mean you must just understand and accept everything, it’s fair and important to set boundaries in any healthy relationship. It’s ok for you not to lend them your things in this scenario, it’s a boundary. No need for secrecy or guilt about it. A boundary always focuses on what you yourself will or will not do on any given situation, instead of focusing on how other people should or should not change their behavior. The latter is a sure waste of time and energy and a perfect recipe for frustration. Good luck!

Ann's Comment
Well, dear, your own obsessive compulsive personality about putting everything away could be causing so much stress on your family that they panic. Teenagers are notorious for being forgetful, but wife may just be so stressed out by you that she can;t think straight. Calm down,

Reader Comment
I used to help my husband clean his garage -- yes it is his because it drove me irrational that I could not find anything in there. No matter how many times I helped clean and sort it -- no matter how many organizers I bought and helped install. Now I do not go into the garage (too much clutter to park a car there) and he gets me whatever tool I ask for. No more fights over the tools and garage.
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, whatever they needed I provided. What really hurt my son and I the most was the obituary - we were not mentioned at all. Our friends (mine and hers) were appalled. I was embarrassed and upset for not just me, but for my son-who loved her also. I never been so upset. Her x-husband put his wife and kids and their grandchildren in the obituary, who my girlfriend barely knew. They live an hour away from us. I know its silly to be mad over a little section of the newspaper, but it still hurts. Will time let this devastating loss of her and this article ever go away? I am so angry at this whole situation, its not like we can go and rewrite an obituary notice.

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"If you marry a man who cheats on his wife, you'll be married to a man who cheats on his wife."
-Ann Landers