Lifelines: Anne Chilton on new partners for parents

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Keep mum

My parents separated five years ago, and I stayed with my dad as it was more convenient for college, though I still spend time with my mum. She’s a bit better off than him and manages to give me plenty of spending money as well as paying for treats and trips with her new boyfriend. But he annoys me so much – he’s so much younger than her that it’s embarrassing, and he acts like an idiot.

I know I could treat him better and try to get along with him for my mum’s sake, but the guys she goes out with get ever younger and more insufferable. Her sister feels the same, saying she ought to be acting her age, but my mum doesn’t seem to care.

Parents sometimes forget they need to be just that – parents. It sounds like you want a mum and not a friend who just buys you things. Perhaps you want her to be more like a mother and not someone who attracts attention to herself.

It also sounds like you are worried about what her boyfriends might want from her. It’s as though you feel parental towards her. Maybe these are things you really feel she should be doing for you.

I wonder if your mum knows how much her behaviour upsets you. It sounds like maybe you need to have a chat to help her see how much you miss her as a mum. Tell her how concerned you are and that whilst she wants some fun, you also want a mum. If you feel this is too difficult, perhaps your aunt could speak to her instead.

Lone star

Our dad has been on his own for the past ten years. There are three of us – me and my two younger brothers – and when our mum died we all found it terribly hard as we were just into our teens. But our dad gave up work and became like a mum and dad to us.

He has done a great job of taking care of us and now we’re all in steady relationships. The problem is that he has carried on devoting himself to us.

There is a woman he knows who is keen on him and we think would be an ideal new partner for him, but although he is clearly interested he doesn’t take it further. We know he loved mum, but we won’t be around forever and he is in danger of missing a great opportunity.

When we encourage him to make a move, he just says he is too busy looking after us. We want him to have something for himself.

Parenting has a start time, when children are born, but no one ever says when to stop. Your dad has taken on all the parenting for his family. If your mum was still around they would likely have talked about how you were doing and the changes occurring as you grew up. Your dad doesn’t have that, and maybe full-on parenting helped him get over losing your mum.

Sometimes we have to take the initiative and tell our parents we can be responsibile for our own lives. Have you talked with your dad about the future?

You have hinted that that a new partner might be a good idea but maybe he needs it spelled out to him that it’s OK and you would all be in favour of it.

Anne Chilton is head 
of professional practice 
for counselling with Relationships Scotland; 
Twitter: @RelScot