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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Interviews by Georgina Lawton

You be the judge: should my mum stop helping herself to my posh candles?

posh candles and bath salts

The prosecution: Amber

Mum says stealing expensive candles and bath salts from my room is a ‘perk of the landlord’

I’m 22 and live at home with my parents. I’m lucky to be living for almost free (I pay very little in rent) but I struggle when my mum, Doreen, uses my luxury items.

When I was living in a shared house at uni I bought a lot of decorative pieces to freshen up the place and spent a small fortune on designer candles and incense. I found university quite stressful, so investing in my surroundings and buying nice things helped me relax.

When I moved back home, I took my remaining collection with me, only to find that my mum wanted to use everything. She made fun of me initially, but now she won’t stop lighting the incense and the candles. I didn’t mind at first, but I reckon taking my most expensive candles from my room to use elsewhere when I’m not around is a bit cheeky.

I work as a receptionist and the hours are long. When I get home, I like to unwind with a film and some candles in my room, but sometimes I find mum has taken them. She once nicked my most expensive Jo Malone candle and lit it while she was in the bath. Another time I got back from a weekend away and my favourite, Pomegranate Noir, had almost burned to the bottom. I told her to replace it but she just laughed and said using my candles was a “perk of the landlord”.

When I first moved back I left some candles in the shared spaces for everyone, because I had loads to spare. But they were used up quickly and mum moved on to pinching ones from my room. When I’ve complained she’s said: “Oh well, you’re not paying much rent.” But that shouldn’t mean I’m on candle duty for the rest of my life.

Mum has also taken to sprinkling a load of my bath salts in her bath. I wouldn’t mind but she always goes for my favourite ones, the lavender scent that helps you sleep.

My dad doesn’t really get involved but he did once say that we shouldn’t be arguing over “all that expensive smelly stuff”. I’d like mum to leave the things I’ve bought for myself to me. They are my small pleasures, so I don’t think I’m being unreasonable in wanting to set boundaries.

The defence: Doreen

Amber can only afford posh candles because we barely charge her rent – why can’t she share them?

Amber likes the finer things in life and she’s always been that way. Even though she didn’t grow up with luxury items, she’s found her way to them. She saves up money to spend on tiny designer bags and overpriced jewellery. She also got into candles and incense.

The only reason she can afford to indulge in fancy candles is because my husband and I barely charge her rent – about £200 a month, a bargain. If she was out in the real world, there’s no doubt she’d have to stop buying all this stuff. Financially, I’m doing her a favour, so she shouldn’t get so heated up about me burning some overpriced scented candles on a Friday.

Whenever Amber has become annoyed at me for taking things from her bedroom, I have mentioned that she could buy some nice things for the house so I wouldn’t have to go to her room. She obliged but I found that the candles she set aside for us weren’t the best. She reserves the really nice ones for herself. I must admit I did revert to pinching the good ones from her room again.

Amber noticed I’d used her Jo Malone candle when she was away and she was rather annoyed. I did apologise but I also think it’s not that big a deal. I agree that boundaries are necessary in a shared home but I do think I respect them. I do her washing and help her out with money. And it’s not like I’m rifling through her things when she’s out. I’ve just used a bit of her incense and burned a few candles. Is that so bad?

I’ve also taken to bathing since Amber moved back in and introduced these lovely bath salts to the house. If she didn’t want me to get into all this, she shouldn’t have shown me. Now it’s hard to go back. The salts really do feel like a lovely treat after a long day. I could buy my own, of course, but it’s better when Amber picks them out. I never know which brands to buy.

Amber buys nice things for herself quite regularly, so really, she should share them with her family. With the money she saves on rent, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask her to be on candle and bath salt duty while she’s under my roof.

The jury of Guardian readers

Should Doreen stop using Amber’s posh candles and bath salts?

Moving back in with your parents is difficult, so co-operation and communication are key here. Amber could shop for nice candles with her mother – that would reduce the stress on both of them. Colleen, 30

Amber is entitled to keep her luxury items to herself. Doreen is overstepping the boundaries of a landlord and parent of an adult, irrespective of the agreed low rent. Amber could, however, help Doreen choose her own luxury candles and bath salts to enjoy.
Rita, 53

Amber is working full time and her rent is effectively subsidised by her parents. So this issue could be easily solved by Amber buying a few nice candles for her mum, which I’m sure would be appreciated. Win-win.
Kevin, 68

Doreen shouldn’t be going in and taking Amber’s belongings, as she’s told her how upsetting this is. Yes, Amber is well looked-after at home and has a good deal on the rent, but that doesn’t entitle her mum to help herself whenever she pleases.
Jamal, 34

Doreen should stop reminding Amber what a big “financial favour” she’s doing her. Perhaps it’s not too much to ask for Amber to be on candle and bath salt duty – but it sounds as if Doreen didn’t ask.
Elizabeth, 34

Now you can be the judge

In our online poll below, tell us: should Doreen stop using Amber’s posh candles and bath salts?

Last week’s result

We asked if Marcus should stop cooking food past its use-by date, as it annoys his partner Yara.

48% of you said Marcus is guilty

52% of you said Marcus is innocent

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