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21st Mar 2024

‘It’s like Groundhog Day’ – Psychotherapist reveals the real impact living at home is having on Irish adults

Kat O'Connor

Living in your childhood home at the age of 29 is far from easy

68% of people in their late twenties are still living at home, but what impact is it actually having on our mental health?

We can all agree that there are many perks to living at home. We’re grateful for the fact we don’t have to pay as much rent as we would if we were living elsewhere, but we also make many sacrifices when we stay in our home.

Not only do we feel like we’re miles behind our peers, but we also feel frozen in time.

As psychotherapist Bethan O’Riordan perfectly put it, most adults living at home are being treated like children.

Our parents may not mean to but the relationship has almost stalled and stopped developing because your postcode has remained the same.

Bethan told “Parents don’t realise that they are smothering their children because the hardest thing for anyone is to see their flaws. They don’t realise what they’re doing but the impact is evident.”

We’re told to talk through our issues but talking can only help so much.

“The reality for most people is, even with all the talking in the world, they’d still be treated like a child by their parents,” Bethan explained.

“Most people in their 20s and 30s go through a self-actualisation process and figure out who they are. They should have the freedom to discover who they are but that’s being stripped away from adults in Ireland.”

When our parents were growing up, most of them had the luxury of renting without spending an entire paycheque on rent. Others were able to buy their first home before reaching their mid-twenties, but that’s a reality most of us will likely never experience.

“They weren’t under a spotlight or being watched”

They had the freedom to live like actual adults, which is something you can’t grasp when you’re still living in the house where you had your 8th birthday party and when you’re sleeping in a room where you hid your teeth under your pillow for the tooth fairy.

“A lot of parents don’t realise that they’re suffocating their children. Parents don’t realise they’re being too intrusive because they’re being caring, but their children are living in Groundhog Day.”

“They could make mistakes. They weren’t under a spotlight or being watched. Having that freedom removed can stop people from progressing with their own lives,” Bethan said.

So many of us want to move on and develop but those opportunities are few and far between when the Government fails to take notice of how severe the housing crisis is.

“Feeling upset about living at home is perfectly valid”

There is little we can do about the housing crisis, but there are ways to deal with the struggle of living at home.

“Having clear boundaries can help make these situations easier. You can tell your parents to stop asking if you want dinner or what time you’re coming home. They wouldn’t ask you these questions if you were living elsewhere so introducing that boundary will help.”

“Parents can plough on regardless thinking they know best, but they’re many generations away from their child,” Bethan said.

Feeling defeated and upset about living at home is a perfectly valid feeling, but Bethan suggests surrounding yourself with your second family.

The people who make you feel good, who get you, who cheer you on.

“It’s valid and hard. You can be grateful but you can also accept that it’s also not the ideal situation. There’s so much serious out there in the world but surrounding yourself with people who cheer you on is the most simple way to make yourself feel okay.”

Bethan O’Riordan is a psychotherapist, co-host of the Mum Mind Podcast, and owner of the Calm Parenting Community.

Bethan is an accredited member of the IACP.