If you are reading this and you are between 18 years of age and 23 years of age, you may well be a KIPPER. Did you know that? A KIPPER.
What’s a Kipper, you ask? Well, it’s the latest in a long line of acronyms that have emerged in recent decades to bracket people in socio-economic terms. Remember YUPPIES? Young Urban Professionals? DINKIES? Double Income No Kids? LOMBARD. Loads of Money But A Real D….? (Maybe I should stop there.)
Well, KIPPERS, according to one of Today’s guests with Sean O’Rourke, are Kids in Parents’ Pockets Eroding Returns. That is, children in their adulthood, either in third level or further education beyond third level, living at home for financial reasons.
It’s a new one on me, that acronym, KIPPER. But it’s far from a new phenomenon. Rents are at record levels, student accommodation places are as rare as hens’ teeth, and students need secure accommodation to succeed in University.
But, living at home with your parents as an independent and strong willed 18-23-year-old poses real challenges to the parent-child relationship and that was the subject of today’s discussion with Dr Harry Barry, GP, and Enda Murphy, Psychologist.
“You have a classical conflict. The young person is bursting into adulthood, where they are full of enthusiasm and energy and want to explore the world… That, of course, brings in all of its own challenges, mental health challenges, misuse of substances, sexuality, all the issues that pour in on the young person when they arrive in college.”
And of course, for the adult home, it’s also a brave new world, having come from a situation where the previous educational structure, and that strict parent/child authority structure, are no longer valid.
Harry Barry identified some very definite problems that can arise from these situations.
Firstly, when a young person reaches the age of 18, “there is an erroneous assumption that the person is mature both from a brain and life experience point of view.” In practice, this is not the norm, as the young adult brain is really only mature by 25. (Sorry, millennials, that’s the view from the experts.)
There are also issues around the fact that, once a child passes the age of 18, parents are no longer morally or legally responsible for them. And as those young adults start to explore boundaries, those boundaries might not be approved of by the parents under whose roof they live.
But later in the show, some parents listening had their say, as Sean read some of their texts and e-mails. And that, to be honest, was where the fun started.
“I love my third level student children dearly. But what bothers me greatly is their sense of entitlement. I do feel taken for granted. They don’t get 'helping out at home'.”
But it’s a double edged sword, according to Enda Murphy.
“If your children are in a world where about they still believe in the laundry fairy, then who has created that world?”
They will cop on quickly enough, he insists, once they have a date with a girl or guy they fancy and they don’t have a clean shirt or dress to put on.
Here’s another texter.
“Whatever happened to bailing out at the age of 17 or 18 years of age? We all learned to grow up, deal with money, deal with girlfriends, boyfriends, Mammy didn’t need to be there all the time. The fact is, they won’t learn, living at home. I had to fill out my son’s job application and he’s an honours English student!!!”
According to Enda, we have to teach children HOW to do things, and then let them go and do it. But Harry went further, cautioning about the notion of over-using the “in my time,” prefix. “In my time”, he said, “I was in digs with about 20 other guys … Chaos is the only word. We can’t go back.”
A mixture of tough love, along with sensitivity, patience, understanding and discipline. Easy-peasy!
Dear oh dear. Who’d be a parent?
There’s lots more in this, and it’s well worth listening back here.