Ailin Quinlan: Suffer adult children, and pity the parents who house them!

A study has found that the wellbeing of adults living with their parents is in decline... but what about the parents, says Ailin Quinlan
Ailin Quinlan: Suffer adult children, and pity the parents who house them!

A study this week told of the mental health problems of older children forced to live with their parents. Posed by models

MY God. Nearly half of Irish people in their mid- to late- twenties are still living with their parents — and experiencing a sharp decline in their sense of wellbeing as a result.

What a nightmare.

A major study has found that, overall, general, subjective wellbeing was “worse among young adults living with their parents than those living independently, especially among the over-25s”.

These millennials — adults aged from 23 or 24 to about 39 — are, according to research by the EU agency Eurofound, experiencing a negative knock-on effect on their mental health.

Understandable — it must be very depressing to be forced by property prices to remain living at home at that age, especially if you have a decent job.

However, although I kept reading, the other crucial finding — the quality of mental health amongst the parents now hosting adult offspring who should be off living by themselves — was nowhere to be seen.

In fact, despite the fact that they are, albeit indirectly, also the victims of these dire economic circumstances, there seemed to be no mention about the impact on the mental health of aging parents forced to share their living space with boomerang millennials.

A remarkable omission, you could say, and you’re welcome to stand me up against a wall and shoot me for this — or alternatively, troll me to death on social media — but if you ask me, had those researchers bothered to check, the subjective wellbeing among parents once again living with adult offspring would probably be just as bad, if not worse, than that of the boomerang-ers themselves.

After all, it’s the parents’ space that’s been invaded.

I’d guess their overall sense of wellbeing would also compare poorly with those (lucky) parents whose adult children had not done a U-turn back into the old homestead.

It’s not difficult to speculate why this might be so.

Once the suitcases are unpacked and the welcome-home meal is eaten, there will be those who instantly regress to childhood.

Suddenly, Mammy is finding their dirty clothes crammed into the laundry bin in the expectation that she’ll do their washing, just as she did when they were kids.

Their wet towels and sundry underwear cast-offs are left on the bathroom floor, and the parents find staggering amounts of eco-friendly pizza packaging and organic wine and cider bottles jamming up the recycling bin, in the expectation that somebody else will just, like, deal with it.

Yes, of course they want dinner —they were, they will point out, a member of this family the last time they checked (guilt-trip, guilt-trip) —but then they don’t turn up for it.

Your subsequent irritation is met with the bland observation that the boomeranger-er is not a child and as such is entitled to live a free, roving, adult life and that there’s no need to lose your head because they didn’t, like, eat your dinner.

You may then be requested to store your boring home-made meals in the fridge, where they gradually go off while the returnee feasts on exorbitantly priced, gluten-free, harissa-style vegan pizzas in trendy eco-friendly packaging, purchased from a yuppie eatery 30 miles away.

Eventually you work up the courage to throw out the decaying meals, at which point the millennial will instantly come looking for something to eat, and then, yes, you officially become the worst in the world and they run off to Eurofound complaining about the impact on their mental health of being forced to live with the ’rents.

If they do consent to actually sit at the table to eat a meal with you, they’re likely to spend quite a bit of it on their phone, texting more interesting acquaintances and refusing to engage in casual conversation, or comply with your no-phones-at-the-table rule, despite the fact it is your table, your meal and, well, your house.

These are not children, anymore, see, and, despite the fact that you’re more than likely cooking for them and doing their washing while keeping a roof over their heads, the sheer strength of their millennial-era awareness of their personal human and civil rights means they don’t feel any obligation to row in and do as the Romans do. So they’re way more difficult to manage.

Millennials (in large part) don’t do small talk, don’t make eye contact, don’t watch TV, don’t go to church, and are never wrong about anything.

According to research, more than 80% of them sleep with or next to their cell-phones (and when the tumours start popping up, wait for it; that will be your fault too.)

When they’re not on-screen, they’re hogging Netflix (that doesn’t count as TV), allowing the pasta saucepan to boil over and steam up the kitchen windows, and forgetting to lock the back door after coming in late at night — like, what’s the big deal? What’s worth stealing around this place anyway?

No offence, like, and when you riposte, they’ll admit in a hurt way that, no, they can’t afford to buy their own home (or pay rent), but that has nothing to do with a penchant for designer sportswear, fine dining and eye-wateringly expensive long-haul holidays. Of course it hasn’t.

But, in the meantime, they will grace you with their presence if you would only just, like, comply and serve in the understanding that neither Eurofound nor any other politically correct statistics-collection agency gives two hoots about the state of your mental health.

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