Couple

I feel stuck in a horrible situation. My parents divorced a few years ago and my dad has since moved in with another woman.

I get on with her fine, but my mum can’t stand her, so it’s awkward.

I’m an 18-year-old girl and my dad’s partner is only 28, so I can talk to her about things that I don’t feel I can talk to my parents about.

I like that she’s young and she treats me like a friend – we go shopping together and for lunch, or have girls’ nights in with a movie.

However, I feel so guilty that I get on with her because of how my mum feels. My mum says she’s dismissive of her to the point of rudeness and hasn’t made any effort with her at all.

If my dad’s girlfriend’s name comes up, it’s always stressful because my mum goes off on one and I don’t know how to respond

I haven’t seen a mean side to this woman at all and we never talk about my mum when we’re together.

What should I do? I feel caught in the middle.

Coleen says

Well, it’s sensible not to go on about how amazing your dad’s girlfriend is and what you do together in front of your mum, but it doesn’t sound as if you’re doing that.

You have to be ­sensitive to her situation, but equally, it’s something your mum has to get to grips with and it shouldn’t stop you from having a relationship with your dad’s girlfriend.

I don’t know how your parents’ marriage ended, but it sounds like your mum is still hurting from the divorce, and now your dad has ended up with a 28-year-old, so that’s probably an extra thorn in her side.

What you have to tell your mum is that even if you get along with this woman, she’ll never be your mum and no one will ever take her place.

Make a fuss of your mum and make sure you’re also doing nice stuff with her and that you keep that mother-daughter bond strong.

When people move on after divorce and get into new relationships, it’s complicated and you can’t expect everyone to fall into step overnight.

It’s not easy and it can take years for divorced couples to find a way to get on with their ex’s new partner. And I think it’ll be especially hard for your mum if it was your dad who wanted to leave the marriage.

So give it time and don’t expect everyone to be friends straight away, and allow for the possibility that they may never be friends, but might find a way to get along in each other’s company.

Most importantly, don’t feel guilty because none of it is your fault and I think it’s really positive that you’ve accepted your dad’s girlfriend and get along so well with her.