Dear Miriam,

Our daughter was lucky enough to secure a place on her chosen university course in Dublin in the CAO. She starts this month.

I’m sure you are well aware of the student accommodation crisis that has been dominating the news. We are very lucky that I have an aunt who is retired from her civil service job in Dublin and lives by herself in a nice area a bus ride away from the college. She knew that my daughter was hoping to go to Dublin and rang me in August to offer a room for her from Monday to Friday, and the occasional weekend if she needs to stay up to study coming close to exams. She didn’t even want any money for it – she said the room is lying empty anyway – but of course my plan was to still pay her a fair rent, as I was so relieved to find a place.

This, however, has gone down like a lead balloon with my daughter. No way does she want to live with her grandaunt; she seems to think it’s all planned so that she won’t go wild in college. She wants to live with other people her own age; but she doesn’t even have any idea herself of how to go about doing that, as none of her close friends are going to Dublin. I tried the college campus, but I had no hope. I’d say she would be lucky to get half a couch in someone’s house at this stage, listening to the news.

To me, living with her grandaunt seems like the best option at the moment, but she’s having none of it. How can I convince her otherwise?

Stressed out mother

Miriam responds

Dear Stressed out mother,

Thank you for your email. Look, I can see why an 18- or 19-year-old would not exactly be thrilled at the prospect of living with her grandaunt during her first year of college. I get it. But quite honestly, it does not look like she has many other options; and she is very lucky to have the offer of a safe, comfortable and affordable place to stay in Dublin. Many more students will have to commute long distances, stay in absolute dives or perhaps even forgo their college places this year because of the accommodation crisis.

She does not seem to have any alternative herself to your proposal, so I’m not quite sure what she hopes will come of refusing to stay with her grandaunt. Does she expect you to conjure up a campus place for her if she stamps her feet hard enough? She probably needs a bit of a reality check.

I would tell her that you understand how she feels – you were that age too, once upon a time. Hopefully when she starts college, she will get to know other people and it might be easier to find a house share the year after, or even in the second semester. It’s not forever. But for now, this is really the only option. And if she does not take her grandaunt up on her very kind offer, you can’t really see how it will be possible for her to attend college. And does she really want to throw that opportunity away?

And by the way, it’s not all doom and gloom. Once she gets to know people on her course, I’m sure she will have the opportunity to stay with friends on nights out etc, when she might get some insight about the reality of sleeping on a couch or on a floor. Her grandaunt will probably welcome the break too! But it is important that she knows that she will have to let her grandaunt know if she is not going to be coming home etc so that she won’t be worrying about her. They will have to figure that out between themselves.

Learning to compromise is a reality of growing up. It’s just one of the many lessons she will learn in college; but hopefully she’ll have lots of fun along the way too.