Fiona Caine is a trained counsellor. Here she gives advice to an upset mum and a concerned friend.
Q. As a single mum, I thought I had a close and loving relationship with my two children. My daughter, 15, doesn’t seem to feel the same way. My son, 12, tells me that she’s been telling people her home life is terrible and that I’m a cruel monster.
She’s complained that she has no personal freedom and that I’ve tried to keep her and her father apart. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
A. All of this could be no more than gossip. But if your daughter has been saying these things, tread carefully.
Young people place great importance on image, so it's possible that she is trying to create a persona other than her own; perhaps of a hard-done-by youngster from a fractured family.
Whatever is going on, you won't resolve the problem by being confrontational. You're more likely to do this by encouraging her to talk about her feelings.
A better relationship may not develop overnight but with patience things can improve.
Q. I’ve just discovered that the man my best friend is going out with has been lying to her. He’s told her he’s single, but it seems he’s separated and still sees his wife from time to time.
I also heard he’s dangerous and has been to prison for beating someone up.
Now I’m worried and think I should tell my friend but she seems so happy with him. The last thing I want to do is hurt her.
A. How certain are you that all this information is true?
It’s possible there is no relationship now with the person he sees, other than friendship.
Perhaps he has been to prison, but that doesn’t necessarily make him dangerous. And if he’s done his time, doesn’t he now deserve a chance of happiness? It may be that someone is jealous of her newfound happiness and is trying to turn her against this man, using you as a weapon.
However, if you can prove these facts then I feel you must tell your friend, even though she may be angry with you. Be gentle.