THE FACT OF THE MATTER
Come home now, your dinner’s poured out – The Ma.
At one time as you grew in years, through late teens and early 20s and even, in a rural setting, your 30s, the above opening line would have been the norm. But life in Ireland evolved and things moved on. Now, though, it seems The Ma may be again pouring your dinner out for you.
New figures show that the number of young Irish adults still living with their parents has almost doubled in the past decade. And young men are less likely to leave the family home compared to their female counterparts, according to new data from Eurostat.
The latest figures show that 68% of Irish adults aged 25 to 29 were still living at home last year.That compares to an EU average of 42%. For women in this age group, 61% have yet to move out, while almost three-quarters (74%) of men have yet to fly the nest. However, a decade ago, just 36% of those aged 25 to 29 were still living with their parents.
A combination of high rents and a lack of affordable housing means more Irish adults than ever before are unable to leave the family home.
I have no doubt that for some parents of ‘kiddults’ who, because of the housing crisis, are still residing in the box room, such a scenario is not an issue. Indeed, to still have your grown-up children around you can be a joy.
My only daughter, with her husband and two baby girls, lives nearby and that indeed is a joy. My two two sons live in America and that often causes me heartache because I don’t see them on a regular basis. I visited them recently and the trip exceeded expectations, but oh the heartache of having to say goodbye.
All that said, I would suggest the dynamic of having your fully grown-up child back home living with you could be different kettle of fish altogether.
My late father used to say: “Loving someone is one thing but liking them and living with them is another matter altogether.”
Not long after the Covid-19 pandemic began to ease, my daughter moved back home. At 39. With her husband and 10-month old daughter. And half a lifetime’s wardrobe that would have left Imelda Marcos looking like the poor relation.
The pair had sold their house in Dublin and were yet to find their ideal ‘family’ home in which to raise my granddaughter in the town where her parents were raised.
There I was the last number of years thinking it was safe to enjoy my newly empty nest, when the last of my three adult children flew the coop for the big city and bright lights of New York, to take on such formerly alien concepts as rent, household bills and car payments. But, then, wait… who’s that familiar face coming up the garden path with suitcase in hand? It’s my grown progeny!
The first week my darling daughter was home, she attempted to rule the roost, the child becoming mother to the man. Telling me — ME — what to do, what time to get up and what time to go to bed.
All perfectly well-intentioned but I am a bit long in the tooth now to be then told what to do, so I put that scenario very quickly in its place. Likewise the establishment of minor house rules like don’t leave the immersion on all night or have the house lit up like Blackpool illuminations. I figured such early intervention was vital to prevent misunderstandings later on.
Everyone needs boundaries, even grown up married daughters. I did, however, for that month she stayed with me draw the line on drafting a brief ‘contract’ naming the conditions that must be met in order for her to live under my roof. I was never the martinet.
My psychologist friend from Magherafelt said then I should have been happy my grown-up daughter liked me enough to want to come home. That was true. We are more than father and daughter — we are good friends who enjoy each other’s company and not a little intellectual sparring from time to time.
Besides, my three grown-up children should know that ‘their home’ is a safe, accepting place to land when they need to regroup.
And, back then, for that month, I actually enjoyed the opportunity to relate to my daughter as a grownup — just like me!