I’m 29, single, jobless, living at home and my parents won’t help me out
My parents view a new suit or holiday for themselves as more important than offering me any financial support
Illustration: iStock Illustration: iStock
PROBLEM: I’m turning 30 next year and I live with my parents. I’m unemployed, single, broke and I can’t drive. My parents live in the countryside, where there’s no public transport, so I can never get into town. When I need to go anywhere, I feel like I need their permission. My social and romantic life have really suffered. I have a college degree but to gain employment with it I need a master’s but, financially, this is out of reach. I apply to jobs every single week and have done for years, and I’ve not had one interview.
I’ve done jobs courses and been told my CV is impressive, but I’m limited to applying to work in my hometown as I can’t drive. I can’t afford to learn how to drive since lessons alone will cost me at least €500, and then I have to pay for tests, licences, tax, a car, petrol and insurance.
I’ve been looking for work abroad, too, but I still haven’t found anything. I can’t afford to move out as rent is so high. I can’t afford to emigrate either.
I’m finding it impossible to get started in life. I give money to my parents every week from my social welfare payments. I mostly buy my own food and I do all my own washing. But my dad will happily spend €800 on a suit and he gambles and drinks all the time. Similarly, my mother is always treating herself. To me €800 is a deposit on a flat, it’s driving lessons, it’s half my fees for the first year of my master’s.
It’s frustrating when my parents view a new suit or holiday as more important than offering even a little bit of support or help. I don’t know what to do. Everything I attempt turns into a dead end.
ADVICE: It seems you have run out of hope and that your frustration has made you very pessimistic. Clearly there is a need to create change in your life and this needs to happen quickly. At almost 30, you feel like a child, and this dependence is making you resentful and negative.
You seem very focused on getting support to learn to drive. No doubt you feel that this will give you relative independence, but I wonder if the change you are looking for is bigger than this.
Living in a small town limits your chances of getting a job and getting a start in life. Perhaps there is a need to live away from your parents so that you can break a long cycle of dependence and resentment. It sounds like your original experience of college was difficult and embarrassing, yet you managed to get your degree and you say your CV is impressive. This shows a reserve of resilience and determination that now needs to be resurrected to get your life back on track.
Changing patterns of behaviour and thinking requires time and commitment, but changing your attitude can be done immediately and will bear instant fruit. Your negativity may well be a reasonable response to your circumstances, but it will push people away from helping you.
Belief in yourself and in your potential is crucial if you are to create the change you seek.
Some of this you can do by creating an aim for the next six months that is reasonable and achievable, but you also need to be around people who are positive and outgoing. Breaking the cycle you are in might be the starting point: could you volunteer with a college charity and go abroad to teach children in need?
These programmes offer training, travel and the company of like-minded people. When you return, you might seek advice from Mabs or social welfare about schemes to get back to work and perhaps seek a job that offers accommodation for the first period of time – such as those in the hospitality industry.
When resentment becomes a default attitude, the only person who suffers is the person bearing the resentment. We do this hoping that the other people (your parents) will notice and change their behaviour. You need to accept your parents as they are and let go the idea that your advancement in life is dependent on them. Take charge of your own life.
Trish Murphy is a psychotherapist. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for advice. We regret that personal correspondence cannot be entered into