My husband doesn’t want adult children tied to our purse strings

Tell Me About It


Q Our children are all in their 20s and finished third-level education for the moment.

Their lives are in flux: as unpaid internships, poorly paid jobs in the service industry and attempts at emigration turned sour, temporary work and so on seem to be the norm.

We have given them some financial support, but another couple we know have taken the opposite approach, offering zero financial support to their young adult children, forcing them to sink or swim. My husband is determined to try out the theory.

The kids are coming to me in a panic, since they know I have my own money, and I cannot cut them off, though I feel bad going behind my husband’s back.

A Playing one parent off against another is a game that never gets tired. First of all, keep an honest line of communication with your husband – when the kids are finally gone, he’s the one you’ll be left with.

It sounds like he’s being a little dramatic to cut them off suddenly.

The transition from “childhood” to “adulthood” is getting longer. Even before the recession, parents were helping their adult children purchase boom-priced homes, and more adult children were remaining at home longer because they could not afford to rent, so this is not just recession-related.

In the US, research has found that three out of four 18-28-year-olds are getting financial help from their parents and that it has no effect on their self-esteem.

The benefit of being a generous parent, the research found, is that children who received parental support (an average of €750 per year) were more secure emotionally due to a strong child-parent bond. The more often they gave it, the stronger the bond.

“It shouldn’t be too surprising that, as the world changes, the way we parent and invest in our children’s futures changes too,” believes Prof Monica Fitzpatrick Johnson, who conducted the research at Washington State University.

“I am less concerned about a small risk of undermining the wellbeing of those young adults who do get financial support than I am about the futures of those young adults who do not get support.”

Remember that all families are different, and while that other couple may be talking tough, you don’t really know what their financial arrangements are.

Q When we met, I was more sexually experienced and open than my inhibited boyfriend. He’s so wonderful that this wasn’t a problem at first.

Happily, he was a fast learner at satisfying me, but sadly he’s not so comfortable with me exploring his potential for pleasure.

And since reciprocity has always meant a lot to me, this began to grate over time.

Six months ago, I made the mistake of going all out and trying something more daring than usual in bed, without discussing it in advance with him. I’m certain that he experienced intense pleasure. But his reaction the next day was absolutely cold and left me dumbfounded, then ashamed.

We haven’t made love properly since then and he absolutely refuses to discuss it.

I began to notice that whenever anything related to gay marriage or homosexuality is discussed on the radio or TV, he immediately clams up and leaves the room. This was never the case before, as his politics are on the ultra-liberal side, just like mine.

I fear that he may feel his sexual orientation was undermined by how much he enjoyed our last proper session.

How can I reassure him that wasn’t my intention? Or should I be prepared for him having genuine doubts about his sexuality?

A Something your previous lovers enjoyed seems to have taken your boyfriend by surprise. In the heat of passion it didn’t occur to you to check with him first, and since his reaction was positive you thought it was OK.

The cold shoulder next morning seems to have come from his confusion over having enjoyed it, but if he is feeling ashamed, don’t let him shame you.

“It’s possible,” suggests Teresa Bergin, sex therapist, “that he’s now a little anxious around sex as this new activity came out of the blue and he doesn’t know what to expect now. Because he is less sexually experienced than you, it is more difficult for him to verbalise his thoughts and feelings about your sexual relationship and so he withdraws from any discussion about what occurred.”

You can reassure your boyfriend that enjoying certain acts does not necessarily mean anything at all about sexual orientation, but also ask gently whether this particular act raised confusing questions for him, which might account for his sudden discomfort around homosexuality. Tell him you’re sorry if you made him uncomfortable. Talk about what each of you likes and doesn’t like in bed.

“Your boyfriend is fortunate to have found someone open to expressing her sexuality, and this blip in your sexual relationship does not need to mean the end of you exploring sexual intimacy together,” says Bergin.

If he has difficulty speaking openly with you, you could suggest that he speak with someone else: a GP at the local sexual health services clinic or a counsellor. They would not be shocked.