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Planning Retirement Online

Relationships - 47

It could be you....   

Maggi Stamp, LaterLife's Relationship Counsellor

Every month Maggi Stamp, a qualified and experienced relationship counsellor for Relate and in private practice, writes about some of the emotional challenges we meet in later life.

For reasons of confidentiality Maggi never writes about a particular person's problems unless you have sent one in to be answered, but all her examples are based on problems raised by clients, family and friends over the years.  

You can write to Maggi at for her to respond in the column.

My son has gone

A mother writes:

My 22-year-old son has always been close to me, but now he has rejected me altogether because of his new girlfriend, who is 24 and has a 2-year-old daughter. He tends to fall in love very easily, then get hurt. I’m afraid he is about to go through it all again.

The new girlfriend still sees the father of the child when my son is at work. She is unemployed and very lazy. The daughter spends a lot of time with her father or at the nursery where her child attends. Now she says she is pregnant with my son’s baby, but when they were living with me in January, she told me she had slept with the child’s father too.

Unable to deal with someone using my son, I asked them to live elsewhere. They left, but my son refused to let me know where they live and doesn’t answer my calls. I can’t bear his rejection or that he is being exploited by the girl. It is breaking my heart, I feel bereaved.

Maggi replies:

What a sad state of affairs. You have lost touch with your son and you feel his new partner is the reason for this.

You were absolutely right to ask them to leave your house when you felt she was using your son and using your hospitality. It must have been very disturbing to know she was still having a relationship with her child’s father at the same time as living with your son and carrying a child whose paternity cannot be established without a DNA test.

Letting go of a child is one of the hardest things for a parent to do, but it looks as though this is precisely what you have to do. The more you try to reason and persuade him to see things from your point of view, the more he will feel you are criticizing his choice of partner. He is 22 years old and a grown man, even if you do see him as a bit na?e and easily influenced. He needs to go out into the world and make his own decisions and his own mistakes. That way he will learn from experience rather than do what his mum tells him is best.

This is very tough on you, as you say you have always been very close. But it’s also a difficult relationship for a new woman to handle, as she will fear she can never have first claim on him. Mothers are powerful – although you probably don’t feel it right now.

But there are many ways to use that power and one of them is to recognize your son’s responsibility for his own life. You can do this and still allow him to know you will always love him and be there for him, whatever decisions he makes.

Ask only that he somehow lets you know how he is now and then, no matter how things work out between him and his partner.

  • Tell him that there will always be a welcome in your home for him.

  • Keep the message brief.

  • Say it clearly, warmly, calmly and without any reference to his girlfriend or discussion of events.

If you have been as close as you say, he will listen to your message before deleting it. If the only way to tell him this is in a ‘phone message or text then so be it. Perhaps you know one or two of his friends and you might ask them how he is. Don’t however ask them for his address, or tell them everything about the relationship, or criticize his girlfriend, as they will feel compromised by your words.

Sometimes a child who has been very close to a parent has to completely cut loose to find out who they really are. He is young and has a lot of finding out to do.

In the meantime your grief will be painful to bear, so do find someone to talk this through with. Are there any voluntary counselling services nearby? Perhaps you could find out through your doctor’s surgery, local Social Service offices or on the internet.



You can write to Maggi at for her to respond in the column.

To view previous articles in this series - see the Relationship Counselling Index page




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