Dear Coleen: My son’s new woman is old enough to be his mum

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Dear Coleen

I’ve always been very close to my youngest son, who is now 26.

He has two older sisters who are both married. My son, however, has always gone from girlfriend to girlfriend and never settled down.

He moved to Singapore for work a year ago and we chat regularly on Skype.

A few weeks ago he told me and his dad that he’d met somebody and we were over the moon.

He told us a bit about her, including the fact she’d been married before and has a son.

So we guessed she must be a bit older than him, but we thought perhaps she was in her late 20s or perhaps even 30-something.

The last time we were chatting on Skype he said she was at his apartment and asked if we wanted to meet her and say hello.

She appeared into view and we couldn’t believe it – she’s 45 and her son, we later found out, is 22, so just four years younger than our son.

She’s literally dating somebody young enough to be her son. We were very polite and just chatted for a bit, but a few days later my husband phoned my son and asked him what he was playing at.

My son got angry and said that he’s old enough to choose his own girlfriends and that it’s none of our business.

I’m so unhappy and I want to make my son see sense, but I don’t want to drive him further away. What can I do?

Coleen says

Your son is right, you need to stop interfering.

He’s 26, not 16, so he’s old enough to choose his own girlfriends and make his own mistakes.

Maybe she’s a really lovely woman and the right one for him – what has her age got to do with anything? If he loves her and you criticise her, all you’re going to do is drive him further towards her.

He’s far away enough already, and if he stops Skyping and phoning, you can’t just pop round to make amends.

Nobody is worth losing your son over, so instead of telling him to see sense, why not say: “We’re sorry we had a go – we were just a bit shocked by the age gap. But you know what, if you’re happy and she’s good to you, then we’re happy.”

The age gap is massive and while it may not seem such a big deal to him now, as he gets older it will start showing. Especially if he wants kids and realises she can’t have them.

But I also know people with 20 or 30-year age-gap relationships and they lived happily ever after. Look, I get where you’re coming from – he’s your baby boy – but sometimes you have to bite your tongue.

So see where this relationship goes, and if it falls apart, be the supportive arms he runs to – without saying: “We told you so.”

More of our agony aunt Coleen Nolan’s advice on your sex, family, health and relationship problems

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