Don’t moan about the Bank of Mum and Dad - it’s your job
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I sometimes wonder why people have children. This week, I saw a lady walking through Norwich with six well-behaved littluns. They were doing nothing wrong, but every few seconds she shouted and screamed at one of them: conflict was clearly the default.
I often overhear parents complaining about how their little children are harming their social life, their sleep and their sex life. Yawn, yawn, yawn.
Did you not occupy Planet Earth in the years before you reproduced? It is hardly a secret that being a parent can be stressful, tiring and put huge strain on relationships.
You wouldn't buy a car, then spend years complaining about having to change gear. Nor would you buy tropical fish, then moan about having to feed them.
Sometimes the complaining is about letting off steam during times of great stress. I get that and have been there. I remember driving one of my boys around the town at 3am because he simply would not sleep. I could have screamed and cried.
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But stuff like this goes with the territory, and I can't recall ever feeling that he - nor my others - was anything other than a joy to my soul.
Children really are a blessing, not a burden. And this stands as truth throughout all the years of their lives. So why the Hell do so many parents think it's amusing to talk about the Bank of Mum and Dad or Hotel Mum and Dad?
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Maybe it's something that is more prevalent among the 'golden generation': you know, those baby boomers who got early retirement, decent pensions and six overseas holidays per year.
Signed up to the cult of self, some regard their grown-up children and grandchildren as financial drains. It's oh-so-hilarious at the 'cava and canapes' parties to compare stories with your friends about how your ungrateful grown-up children continue to eat into your cruise funds or force you to wash more bedding.
The latest figure from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) is that one-quarter of adults in the UK aged 20-34 live at home.
This year, they cost their parents an average £1,640 as the householders shouldered the water, heating and electricity bills, as well as paying for takeaway meals, toiletries and food.
Oh dear, poor you. That's the price of a cheap holiday for the joy of having your son or daughter with you. For me, that's priceless.
The key word that ONS uses is "home". Yes, that's HOME, not a HOTEL.
At what moment do parents forget that point?
When you marry, you commit to someone for life (hopefully). If you lose your job or become ill and unable to work, do you then go to the Bank of Wife for money or live at Hotel Husband?
If you do, you should talk to the police about coercive control.
When you have children, it is also a lifetime commitment to being a family. It doesn't end, running through changing nappies, sleepless nights, school runs, hospital trips, homework, more sleepless nights (waiting for them to get in from a night out), paying for a car, insurance, weddings, and so much more.
It often means welcoming them back home for a while. So what?
I've done it - and my parents did it for me when I was 41, never for a second making me feel that I was a guest or a burden.
My children and grandchildren will always have a home with me if they need it.
I'd sleep on the sofa or the floor if necessary because my commitment to them does not end and the strength of my love for them cannot diminish.
I don't care if they cost me money, time, worry or space - it's all irrelevant. If I have to go without holidays for a decade to help my mob get on, what's the big deal?
My job description is "Dad", and it always will be.
It's not about being a bank or a hotel, it's called being a proper family.