Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 18 December 2014

Kids are a one-way street to poor house

We're a close family. I don't mean emotionally. It's just that we can't seem to get rid of the kids.

They remain our nearest and dearest, and I use the words advisedly.

Maybe I exaggerate a little, as only two of our six children still live with us and one will soon leave to begin married life.

But then another one will move back in. Don't ask.

So what is the bond that is so unbreakable?

I suppose our family is typical of most in Northern Ireland. Unlike other parts of the UK, family still means a lot here and even after children leave to start their own lives they will make return visits to the home nest.

But the recent recession has also a lot to answer for.

About one in five young people are unemployed, and even those who are in their 20s and have a job are very lucky if a) it pays well, and b) it is the sort of employment that they had hoped for.

Northern Ireland has always been a place of low wages and the recession has made employers even more tight-fisted. Pay freezes are common in the private sector and redundancies are another way of ensuring that owners or shareholders keep the money rolling in at the expense of the workforce.

With mortgages only available to those who have had a big win on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and can therefore afford the deposit, avaricious landlords are charging sky high rents for accommodation that would make any parent want to keep their child at home. So, if the children cannot get a job, or at least one which pays more than benefits, and cannot afford to buy or rent, it takes a hard-hearted parent to cast them out of the family home.

Though, believe me, it is a thought that occurs frequently when faced with requests for bus fares or a loan to payday, or the sight of the fridge being emptied almost before the groceries have even been unpacked.

Mothers, of course, have an emotional as well as practical view.

They can never forget their sons and daughters as the fresh-faced innocent little children they once were, and in a mum's heart her children will always retain some of that appeal.

However, dads see them as a one-way street to the poor house.

Honest kids, we do love you.

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