Advice columnist Fiona Caine offers her perspective on family dramas, emotional issues and dysfunctional relationships
MY DAUGHTER’S WITH THE WRONG MAN
Q My daughter, who’s 19 years old, met and moved in with a 25-year-old man earlier this year.
We were worried because he owes money left, right and centre, and he’s always broke.
I’ve now found out that my daughter has run up huge debts to pay off most of what he owes and she’s now on a warning from her employer as he interrupts her work so often.
She seems very rundown and I’m so worried for her, but when I try and tell her this man is doing her no good, she won’t listen.
A Sometimes, as a parent, we need to stand back and let our children make their own decisions, even when we know they are the wrong ones.
If you keep telling her she’s made the wrong choice, you risk driving her away completely.
All you can do is make sure that she knows you care about her and that you will be there for her if something goes wrong.
Most parents find that once they acknowledge a greater measure of independence in their offspring, most of them willingly return to renew family ties anyway.
AM I JUST HER COMPANION?
Q For the past two years I’ve been going out with a woman who lives about 40 miles away.
She stays at my house sometimes and we’ve been on holiday together but it’s always in separate bedrooms and we’ve never slept together.
I’m never invited to stay at her house, although I’ve visited her there and she has an open invitation to mine.
I’m beginning to think that she really doesn’t want me around and I’m nothing more than a companion. Should I call a halt to this relationship?
A It’s possible that you may be looking for more in this relationship than she is, but the only way to find out is to have a talk about things.
She seems quite content for you to get together for social contact but no more. That could be because she’s waiting for you to suggest taking things further.
You need to discuss where you both see this relationship heading and what you want out of it.
MY STEPFATHER IS TOO CONTROLLING
Q My mother is a very sweet person but she’s had very little education and can be a bit weak-willed.
Three years ago she married my stepfather, who has taken total control of her and manipulates her.
She never answers a question without looking at him first and although she left him for a while, she went back.
When she was away from him, she admitted to me that he is jealous of everyone and everything and he even tried to stop her from visiting me.
She still does so but pretends to him that she’s going shopping.
I’m so fed up that I’m thinking of calling it a day and having little to do with them. I’m so sick of her husband running me and my family down and making sarcastic remarks.
A Please don’t desert your mother because she really needs you.
Your stepfather’s levels of control are tantamount to abuse, and if she’s as weak as you say she’s very vulnerable.
You say she left him once and that, when she was away from him, she was able to talk to you.
When she next visits, try to get her to open up again and tell you how she really feels about things.
Tell her that you are worried about the way he controls her life and that you’d like to think she had the freedom to do and to decide things for herself.
It may be, of course, that she actually likes having someone run her life for her.
In which case, as long as she is not being hurt, either mentally or physically, then perhaps you’ll just have to put up with their relationship.