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My alcoholic mum is telling terrible lies about my family; Family Life.

Byline: Ask Fiona THE MAIL'S AGONY AUNT

Q I'VE been happily married for four years and we now have a nine-month-old baby. My problem is my mother, who is an alcoholic and won't leave us alone.

She left my step-father to live with a younger man, taking my two step-brothers with her.

She has stolen money from me in the past, and now she is spreading lies about me.

She's told people my husband is not our baby's father, she's told people I neglect him, she says my husband beats me and that he has threatened our baby - but it is all lies. How do I stop her? JC

A Your mother's alcoholism is making her act irrationally and probably explains why she stole your money, too.

She's an addict and the only person who can make her change is herself. But if she has been this way for a long time then I don't think she will find it easy to change.

You say she is spreading lies about you, but if people know her will they honestly believe them?

You and your husband need to concentrate on making a happy family life together and you don't have to see your mother at all, if you don't want to.

I do worry, though, about your step-brothers. If you think she is mistreating them in any way then you might need to consider contacting social services.

Q I'M A single mum of three children all under 10.

I was married to a cruel man for six years and am now finding it hard to rebuild my life. He has left me with no confidence in myself.

I've always known I was ugly - even my Dad used to tell me I was - so I find it hard to make friends.

I'd like to get out and do more with my life but I can't afford babysitters. My mum used to do it sometimes but she died last year.

On most nights, once I've got the kids off to bed, I feel so useless I cry myself to sleep.

My doctor suggested counselling but that made me feel worse so please don't suggest I go through that again. SV

A If counselling was making you feel worse I wonder if it was because you were being asked to face up to some painful realities.

Any father who tells his daughter she is ugly should be ashamed of himself. He certainly has a lot to answer for because he almost certainly undermined your confidence from the start.

You probably married an unsuitable man because your Dad had led you to believe you would be lucky to be asked at all.

Both these unpleasant men are now in your past, and that is where you should leave them and move on. It isn't easy getting over a difficult childhood but you have children who are depending on you to give them a positive future.

If you could reconsider the counselling, I do think it would help you eventually, but if you can't then do think about joining social groups for single parents.

One Parent Families/Gingerbread (oneparentfamilies.org.uk) has groups all over the country. You can contact them on 0800 018 5026 to find out more. When they organise events they expect to have children along too, so you wouldn't have to worry about babysitters.

Q I AM 21 and going out with a guy who is 43. I like him a lot but our relationship is difficult.

He is widowed and has a daughter who is the same age as me, and as a result he wants to keep our relationship secret.

He and his wife had separated some time before she died 18 months ago, but he doesn't think his daughter is ready to accept our relationship yet.

I hate the way we have to sneak about. I love this man but I don't understand why he seems ashamed of me. KL

A He's probably not ashamed of you as much as the fact that he's dating someone young enough to be his daughter.

He is probably finding it hard to sort out his feelings about you - seeing you as a woman he can love - and his daughter - seeing her as a child he needs to protect.

Have you told him how you feel, and have you asked him when he thinks he can be more honest and open about your relationship?

If he is determined to keep your relationship a secret then you have to decide if you are prepared to put up with this.

You could, of course, bring things to a head and introduce yourself to his daughter. But you might damage his relationship with his child as well as his relationship with you.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Sep 30, 2008
Words:796
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