Agony Aunt

Patricia Marie, MBACP qualified counsellor is a member of The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, practising in Harley Street, Essex and Scotland. She has many years experience of dealing with domestic violence, relationship problems, bereavement, depression, addictions, post traumatic stress and many other emotional issues. If you have a dilemma, please email Patricia.Marie@lady.co.uk

How can I help my son who is taking drugs?

Posted by Patricia_Marie
Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 13 October 2017
Dear Patricia Marie,

My 25 year old son's behaviour has been concerning me lately, as he does not seem to want to settle down, and goes from one girlfriend to another. However I have just found evidence in his room that he is taking drugs and I am most disturbed.

I have recently noticed that his personality can be totally different from one day to the next, but I would never have thought he was the type to need drugs to help him through the day. I have brought him up well, sent him to university where he received a passable degree, and provided him with money each month to pay his expenses.
In fact, I am still supporting him now, as at the moment he is only working part-time. What went wrong? Should I confront him?


Patricia Marie says...


There are a variety of reasons why people take drugs, including helping to relieve stress, to fit in with the crowd, for escapism and because they see it as a fun thing to do. Not everyone who takes drugs becomes an addict. But sadly many do end up with an addiction, so it's important that action is taken early on to prevent this from happening.

Communication is essential, and, as difficult as it is, you have to confront your son. Quietly tell him you suspect he's taking drugs, then let him speak. Avoid asking him the questions he is expecting you to throw at him, such as: "How could this have happened to you?" or "How could you do this to me after I have given you everything!" Questions such as these are irrelevant at the moment. Instead find out what is happening in your son's life. Is he struggling with any inner turmoil? Are there relationship issues? Does he have any problems at his place of work?

Do acknowledge the positive aspects of his life too, as although it may be part -time, at least he is getting up and going to work. Convince him you really want to help, but insist that he is honest with you. Remind him that however difficult things seem, you will always be there for him. This will show him the one thing a parent should naturally display for their children - unconditional love. If your son admits to using drugs, he needs to address this. Counselling, hypnotherapy, and addiction support can all help him, but only if he is willing to accept he has a problem.

If he denies taking drugs, and continues to take them, you may have to get tough. Remind him drug use is serious. As well as being illegal, it ruins the lives not only of the users but also of their families too. Tell him there is only so much you can do, that his behaviour is causing you great distress and that it cannot be allowed to continue. You must understand you are not to blame for your son's habit. He is 25, very much an adult, and needs to take responsibility for his own life.

As well as the support of their families, drug users often require professionals to guide, advise and help them. Open 24 hours, 'Ask Frank' is a confidential friendly, non-judgemental helpline for anyone in the UK concerned about drug abuse. I would urge your son to pick up the phone and regain control of his life right now.

Ask Frank: 0300 123 6600 www.talktofrank.com
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My Daughter Won't Accept My Pregnancy

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 06 October 2017
Dear Patricia Marie,

I have one daughter aged 16. Her father left us when she was a baby, and we were on our own until I met my partner 2 years ago. Everything was perfect until just recently, when we told her we were expecting a baby of our own. Since then she refuses to speak to us, slams doors and is constantly rude. We have tried to reassure her that having this baby won't make any difference to her life or between us, but any mention of the baby and she either becomes angry or bursts into tears. She has become an absolute nightmare. I have tried to be patient, but she is spoiling what should be one of the happiest times of our lives. Please advise.

Patricia Marie says...

I can understand how worried and upset you are feeling. As you say, this should be a 'happy' time for you and at the moment you are seeing your daughter's behaviour as unreasonable and unfair.

Nevertheless, labelling her doesn't help. Understanding her feelings can. Step into your daughter's shoes and try to see things from her point of view. After all, having a baby may be exciting and wonderful for you and your partner, but your daughter perceives this news as a threat to her place in the family. Of course she's upset - for 16 years she's been the number one in your life. She's scared she's no longer important and must be feeling rejected and very unsettled.

What she needs is plenty of love and understanding. Don't pressure her to be more accepting of the news, or make her feel guilty about not having a happy response. Instead, give her time and space to get used to the idea. Perhaps she would like to help decorate the nursery. Ask her opinion on name choices. Involving your daughter in plans around the forthcoming birth will make her feel very much included, and will also help her to come to terms with your pregnancy. Be honest and tell her things will be different, but the love you have for her will never change. As your daughter gets used to the idea of having a sister or brother she will become far less angry and anxious. Gently explain to her that although the baby will initially demand your attention, you will also ensure the two of you get to enjoy special time together. When she trusts the fact she's still loved and wanted, she will hopefully soon grow to accept and adore her new sibling, so you can all get to enjoy the special times that lie ahead.

For further help, advice and guidance, I highly recommend Family Lives (formerly Parent Line Plus) 0808 800 2222 familylives.org.uk/
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My husband won't give up his mistress

Posted by Patricia_Marie
Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 29 September 2017
Dear Patricia Marie, 

For the past two years my husband has been funding his mistress in a stunning apartment near to where he works. He constantly lavishes gifts on her, and pays for them to go on expensive holidays abroad. When I found out last year, I was devastated, but have gradually had to accept I either put up with it, or lose him completely. He makes no secret of his infidelity. In fact he's glad it's out in the open. He insists he doesn't want me, but would be set to lose an awful lot of money if we were to divorce, and refuses to give up his mistress. I am still sleeping with him and try to do everything I can to make my husband happy, in the hope that he will finish with this other woman. I feel empty, weak and worthless. Please help me.

Patricia Marie says...

Why on earth would your husband give up his mistress if at the same time he has you submitting to his every whim? He is clearly having his cake and eating it, demonstrating a total lack of respect and being completely uncaring about your feelings. It seems he is only interested in his own pleasure, and is happy to walk all over you.

It's no wonder you are feeling so bad about yourself, but you must accept some responsibility for allowing your husband to treat you in such an appalling manner.

You say your husband is funding his mistress, yet surely this is your money too.

He is totally manipulating you, and I urge you to stand up for yourself before you end up not just lonely, but penniless too.

Instead of focussing on his needs, try to concentrate all your energy on yourself. Embark on some counselling which will help with your low self-esteem and lack of confidence. At this moment, having your husband to love seems the most important thing in your life. However, when you feel stronger within yourself, hopefully you will begin to see things more clearly, and seriously consider ending this dysfunctional marriage, so you can begin to live the life you deserve.

I feel you would benefit from reading 'Women Who Love Too Much' by Robin Norwood.
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My daughter refuses to speak to me

Posted by Patricia_Marie
Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 22 September 2017
Dear Patricia Marie,

I have one daughter aged 16. Her father left us when she was a baby, and we were on our own until I met my present partner 2 years ago. She used to be the most adorable daughter, and it was wonderful to see how well my partner and her got on. In fact, everything was perfect until just recently, when we told her we were expecting a baby of our own.

Since then she refuses to speak to us, slams doors and is rude to us. We have tried to reassure her that having this baby won't make any difference in her life or between us, but any mention of the baby and she either becomes angry or bursts into tears. I have tried to be patient, but she has turned into a nightmare child and spoiling what should be one of the happiest times of our lives. Please advise.

Patricia Marie says...

I can understand how worried and upset you are feeling. As you say, this should be a 'happy' time for you. At the moment you are seeing your daughter's behaviour as unreasonable and unfair. Nevertheless, labelling her doesn't help. Understanding her feelings can. Step into your daughter's shoes and start to see things from her point of view. After all, having a baby may be exciting and wonderful for you and your partner, but your daughter perceives this news as a threat to her place in the family. Of course she's unhappy. For 16 years she has been the number one in your life. She's scared she's no longer important, and is understandably feeling rejected, hurt and unsettled too.

Recognise the confusion and pain your daughter is feeling. What she needs is plenty of love and understanding. Don't pressure her to be more accepting of the news, or make her feel guilty about not having a happy response. Instead, give her time and space to get used to the idea. Perhaps she would like to help decorate the nursery. Ask her opinion on name choices. Involving your daughter in plans around the forthcoming birth will make her feel very much included, and will also help her to come to terms with your pregnancy.
Be honest and tell her things will be different, but the love you have for her will never change. As your daughter gets used to the idea of having a sister or brother she may become far less angry and anxious. Gently explain to her that although the baby will initially demand your attention, you will also ensure the two of you get to enjoy special time together. When she trusts the fact she's still loved and wanted, she will soon grow to accept and adore her new sibling, and in time you can all get to enjoy the special times that lie ahead.

For further help, advice and guidance, I highly recommend Family Lives (formerly Parent Line Plus) There help line is open 24 hours. 0808 800 2222 familylives.org.uk/
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My 21 year old son has just announced that he is gay

Posted by Patricia_Marie
Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 15 September 2017
Dear Patricia Marie,

My 21 year old son has just announced to my husband and I that he is gay. I am totally shocked, devastated and completely unable to cope with this revelation. I still love him, but am disgusted by his behaviour.

He wants us to meet his boyfriend, but I have said absolutely not. I believe he thinks it's fashionable to be gay, but I am horrified. He has had a few girlfriends in the past, but nothing serious. Now I'm thinking this was all a disguise to shield us from the truth. My husband is putting on a brave face, but is distraught. We had presumed in the not too distant future our son would marry, and we would one day be grandparents, but I feel I have now lost my son.

My world has been shattered and I don't know what to do. Please help.

Patricia Marie says...

For any parent, finding out their child is gay can come as a shock, and facing up to this news can be difficult and painful, but in your case, if you are unable to alter your way of thinking, then you could indeed risk losing your son. He has finally taken the enormous step to trust and 'come out' to you both, only to be rebuffed. Have you considered how he is feeling? Being gay is not a choice. What your son needs from you now is simple acceptance, not to be made to feel guilty. Perhaps the first step in acknowledging this would be to welcome his boyfriend into your home. Many parents who have been in your situation find that, once they come to terms with their child's sexuality, the relationship between them deepens, and please stop worrying what others think; true friends will be supportive of you, and most importantly should accept your son for who he is.

Try to gain a sense of perspective – at present all you have lost is your own idea of how life should be. Your son hasn't changed. He's still the same person he was yesterday. Who's to say your son won't have a family and provide you with grandchildren in the future? Don't let him down at the time he needs you most, but instead show him the unconditional love every child deserves. The important factor in any relationship is not the gender to whom people are attracted - more that they love, respect, and treat one another with kindness.

Contact Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (FFLAG), who are brilliant at supporting parents when their children come out - and after. They would understand the very complex, raw, and totally understandable emotions that are enveloping your family at present. I also recommend: Always My Child by Kevin Jennings; this great read provides the insights and practical strategies parents need to support their children and cope themselves, having established their child is gay.

Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays: fflag.org.uk/0845 652 0311  
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