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"My mother insists I go on holiday with her and her new boyfriend. I don't want to go"


My mother met a man on an internet dating site and just a few weeks later he travelled from Portugal to come to see her in Birmingham, England. He arrived for the weekend and two years later he's still here. I don't like him and I don't trust him. We aren't rich but he was unemployed in Portugal and he's not worked all the time he's been in the UK.

Now they have decided they want to go skiing next January and want to book for me to go with them. I'm 14 years old and I know that it will be a financial strain for my mum, but she's besotted and will do anything he suggests. What can I do?

Bert says:

You poor thing. What an awful position to be in. I can't imagine how terrible it must be to see your mother making one bad decision after another, and you feeling like you are the grown-up. But here's the thing: just as you know you have to make your own mistakes, so does she. You can express your concerns, quietly, when you are on your own with her, but getting angry and shouting will just entrench her position and, worse, upset her so she goes to her boyfriend for comfort which reinforces the feeling that it's them against the whole world.

It's even worse than that: she must know, on some level, that her happiness is at the cost of yours and she will, somewhere inside, feel guilty. Of course, she is entitled to be happy, but she also has to recognise her responsibilities. Her guilt will eat her up and she will, ironically, almost certainly turn to her boyfriend for support and succour.

Aside from a quiet mother-daughter chat, the next option might be to talk to your vicar or to the pastoral care tutor at school and see if it's possible for one of them to intercede on your behalf.

Gert says:
The first thing I have to say is that you absolutely must not try to break them up. If you try and fail, you will be the outsider; if you try and succeed, you will always be the one who killed your mother's chance of happiness.

I agree with everything Bert said and I'll add only one more thing: you must know if any of your mother's long-time friends have similar concerns over the boyfriend's failure to contribute. Perhaps one or more of them could have a very gentle word in your mother's ear, saying that holidays are nice but her boyfriend has already been on holiday for two years and perhaps it's time he started to behave like the man of the house.

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