Life

Ask Fiona: I'm worried that my son's moving out but he won't talk to me about it

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers her perspective to a worried mother, and a man who is fed up of being patronised by his doctor

My son won't talk to me since he announced he is leaving home

Why is my teenage son so mad at me?

MY SON, who is almost 19, told me a couple of days ago that he's leaving home and plans to share a flat with his friends. When I pointed out that he might struggle to do this, given that he is still at college and not earning much from his weekend job, he lost his temper and told me to stop interfering.

When I tried to say that I only want to help, he stormed out of the house, slamming doors as he went. I was worried and upset for the rest of the day, as it was so unlike him. He came home later that night and went straight to his room, and he hasn't said a word to me since. He's not eaten with us either, though I know food has gone from the fridge.

I want to help, but don't know what I have done wrong. There's an ugly atmosphere in the house and I feel so guilty for causing it. Please help.

WB

FIONA SAYS: First of all, please stop feeling guilty. You did nothing wrong other than offer your son some sensible advice about the realities of sharing a flat.

The fact that this outburst was so out of character for him suggests to me that this might have been a manufactured reaction anyway. Many young people struggle to find a way to tell their parents they are moving out, often needing to find a reason to justify their decision. In your son's case, he used your so-called interference as the trigger.

I suspect further that, had you not expressed concern for welfare, he might well have used this as grounds to get angry anyway. His outburst no doubt seemed hurtful to you, but please try not to judge him too harshly. The fact that he has not spoken to you since doesn't mean that he is still angry. It is more likely that he is feeling guilty himself and perhaps feels that he might have handled this situation badly. He may also have no idea what to do next.

I know that you want to resolve this ugly atmosphere quickly, but I think it would be unwise to return to this issue immediately. Better, I think, to let him calm down and then try to open a dialogue again about something completely different. Ideally, this should be something trivial and non-confrontational.

For example, what would he like for breakfast or dinner that day? How the weather has been? Humour is good, so perhaps you could relate a funny or strange thing that happened to you. It doesn't really matter what you do, just keep it superficial and avoid the issue that caused the friction.

In time, he should come around and back to his usual self. When he eventually starts talking about moving out again, try not to be negative. Instead, explain that you understand why he needs to be independent and ask if there is anything you can do to help.

Once he sees that you are willing to help him with his plans, this should diffuse the situation further. Hopefully, it will also mean that he will then feel able to apologise for the way he behaved.

Why is my doctor so patronising?

I AM 31, married and have two children, but my doctor still treats me like I am only 13. He seems to know his stuff, but he's been our family doctor for as long as I can remember – I think I first saw him when I was about six. He was particularly helpful last year when I had a skin cancer scare, but I do wish he would stop patronising me.

I know this must sound petty, but it really is beginning to annoy me – so much so that I now dread having to see him. Should I speak to him or will he be offended? The last thing I want is to get struck off from his practice.

My friend said that her father was struck off recently and is now finding it hard to register with another practice. Should I just put up with my GP as he is?

WH

FIONA SAYS: I'm sure he wouldn't be offended if you worded it correctly. After a patronising remark, you could gently remind him, "Dr X, I'm not 13 anymore, you know!"

Treat it as a bit of a joke and try to laugh as you say it – it might make him realise he's out of line. If you're not happy with him or can't face asking him to change his manner, ask the receptionist to transfer you to another GP in the practice. You don't need to tell your existing doctor and you don't need to say why you want to move.

There are two issues here, though. Other doctors might not have space on their lists for new patients, so you may have to join a waiting list. Also, you might want to try one-off appointments with the other doctors until you find one that you like.

Doctors do strike-off patients, but this is typically because of aggressive behaviour or where the patient/doctor relationship has completely broken down. This does not seem to be the case with you, so please don't worry.

I can't afford to have twins

I'VE just had an ultrasound and learned that we're having twins. It's a complete shock, as neither me or my husband have any history of twins on either side of the family. We are also in a panic, because we're struggling to make ends meet already.

My husband has just taken on extra evening work to compensate for the fact that I will soon have to leave my job. He doesn't earn much anyway and coping with one child was always going to be hard, but how we stay afloat with two, I have no idea.

A friend has suggested that I could get one adopted but I'm not sure I could go though with that. I'm so frightened.

YL

FIONA SAYS: I know you're frightened and in shock, but please try not to make any hasty decisions. Give yourself time to think through what to do next and talk to as many sources of help as possible, starting with your GP.

I suggest you also contact the Twins and Multiple Births Association (tamba.org.uk), a charity that provides practical support through its Helping Hands service, information, a helpline and support networks for families of twins, triplets and more.

To use the Helping Hands service, you will need to answer some questions about your income and outgoings. I suggest you also contact Citizens Advice (citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits), which has a useful section on all types of benefits. You can talk these through in person if you have a nearby branch, or chat online.

In case nobody else has said it though, congratulations – it won't be easy, but it will be wonderful.

Why does my partner want to sleep with other women?

MY FIANCE and I are going to the Seychelles later this year for a holiday. I'm looking forward to it, but he's worried me by saying that, as we are not due to get married for a year or two, it should be OK for him to have sex with other women while we are there.

We are both virgins and have previously agreed to not have sex until we are married. However, he thinks that if he doesn't get it out of his system now, it might come back later and wreck our marriage.

I am not sure I could cope with him having sex with someone else, but he is being very persistent. Would it really hurt if I agreed and might it stop him from straying later?

JM

FIONA SAYS: If he thinks that it's acceptable to sleep with other women while on a romantic holiday with his fiance, I doubt it will stop him having affairs if he decides he wants to.

I also suspect this has less to do with saving your marriage and much more to do with manipulating you into agreeing to have sex with him while you are away. I find little here that makes me think this immature man is capable of a loving, trusting relationship and I think you are right to be uneasy.

Tackle this issue now, preferably before you go on holiday, and certainly before you get married.

:: If you have a problem and you'd like Fiona's advice, email help@askfiona.net

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