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Don’t make the home too comfortable so the kids’ won’t want to leave!

By Bunmi Sofola

TODAY’S children are the most     pampered. You pay through you nose to give them the best education, pull all the strings you can to get them the job they grudgingly admit they might like only to be faced with the most daunting of tasks – how to kick your seemingly independent ‘child’ out of the family nest he’s been cocooned since birth.

Fatima, an accountant in her fifties lost her husband when her two sons were in the university. “I promised you, you won’t want for anything”, she assured her bewildered sons. They’d been used to being ferried to and from school and had a car between them when they got to the university. “My husband left us fairly well provided for”, Fatima said. “The house we lived in was bought and paid for and his investments were solid-on top of which I had a very good job. To re-assure my sons, I gave the older one, one of his dad’s car and seldom queried their financial demands.

Every week, they brought filthy looking laundry to be run through the washing machine. I started feeling really resentful when the house looked as if it had been hit by a demolition squad whenever they came home. Food items disappeared with the speed of light – so did whatever booze there was in the house. Their dad always encourage them to drink moderately in the home, but it seemed they’d gone one up on their limit. Friends trail them all over the place and help themselves to whatever it was my sons were having. I had to put my foot down. I phoned the boys not to bother to bring in their laundry because the washing machine was on the blink. When they showed up, there wasn’t that much variety of food to be had as before and the fridge had only water and soft drinks. You know what their friends did? Took themselves off to the nearest fast-food joint and came back with more than enough for everyone to eat. I had my special treat too and a bottle of my favourite wine!

“Where did all the money come from? My son looked at me as if I’d asked a dumb question. Did I know the sort of jobs their friends’ fathers have? Have I taken a look at the cars they drive? They then went on to tell me all the luxuries at their beck and call, making my efforts look as if I was keeping them on the poverty line! They’d since finished at the university and expanding their dad’s business. And they still live at home. I’ve lost count of the number of girlfriends that had gone through the house. I’ve been turned into a reluctant agony aunt and the stories some of these girls tell me about my son’s escapades, not sparing me the lurid details, leave me really cold with embarrassment.

“I’ve dropped several hints about their finding their own places – I need my privacy. I have my own life to live and they never like any man they see in the house. The last was a frequent visitor to the campus when they were there and they mentioned two or three girls he was ‘aristo’ to. He never bothered to show up after that..” It is a known fact that a lot of grown-up ‘children’ are refusing to leave home and those who have flown the nest feel they have an open ticket to come back anytime they choose. There are myriad of reasons for this. A lot of them spend time acquiring the best education unlike before when lack of funds limited the quality of education young intelligent but poor men got. Some get jobs first and, as soon as there are openings’ for on-the-job trainings in their work places, they go for it, leaving precious little for rented accommodation not to talk of furnishing apartments. The ease with which young couples decide to live together is not helping matters either.

As soon as such relationships bite the dust they’re back to ‘mummy’ and she’s always there with her long-suffering look, wondering when her job would really be finished. Getting your ward alternate accommodation by paying the rent is a pipe dream – what with the cut-throat prices quoted by estate agents – not to talk of the fortune you’ll spend on making the place look tempting enough for your child to want to move out.

“These young adults develop what I call hotel syndrome – the washing up get done miraculously and the fridge is always full”, observed a counselor. Much as you love them, you need to discuss practicalities and set down house rules. Young people are good at wrong-footing their parents, so if they have an adult version of a toddler’s tantrum, it helps to remember that you pay the bills and keep the house running. Yet it isn’t all doom and gloom. If you live alone, or if your partner is often out of the house, a son or daughter can be good company for you. If you go away, someone you trust is there to look after the house and the dog, and if you’re on a tight budget, money towards household cost may be welcome. Besides, living with younger people can be invigorating. They can stop you getting into a rut and help you feel more alive”


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