Dear Coleen

I’m a 20-year-old guy in the last year of university and I’ve fallen out badly with my mum over my girlfriend.

She’s a local girl who lives near the university and works in a student bar. I’m madly in love with her and plan to ask her to marry me once my course is finished.

The problem is, she has an ex who’s in prison and a son who is five. She’s also a few years older than me, but is still only 23.

My mum went ballistic when I told her about my girlfriend and was banging on about how I was ruining my life and that she’s not paying for me to go to uni so I can marry a barmaid with a child whose dad is a criminal.

It was really nasty stuff and I haven’t spoken to her since, even though my dad has tried his hardest to be the peacemaker in all this.

I feel so disappointed in my mum for having these short-sighted views. She hasn’t even met my girlfriend and if she did, she would see what a beautiful, ­intelligent person she is. As for her son, he’s great, too.

I don’t want to start a feud and never speak to my mum again but, at the same time, I’m really angry with her and not sure if I can forget or forgive the things she said.

Coleen says

Ouch! OK, it’s clear your mum went into full meltdown, anger got the better of her and she’s said some things, which I hope she’ll regret once she’s had some time to think.

It almost sounds to me as if she’s living her life through you and your degree means more to her than it should.

It’s not fair to make this about money either – she might be paying for your studies, but that still doesn’t give her the right to tell you who you can and cannot date.

As far as I can make out, this relationship isn’t affecting your studies anyway and you plan to graduate and go into the workforce.

Maybe instead of talking to her, put your feelings into a letter and give her time to think about what you’ve said.

As a mum myself, I understand those feelings of wanting the best for your kids and hoping you’ve brought them up to make the right choices, but all parents have to accept that their kids have to live their own lives and make their own mistakes.

Also, reassure her that you’re studying hard and that she has nothing to worry about on that front. I hope your mum gets to meet your girlfriend and sees what you see in her.

It sounds to me as if she’s doing a great job of being a single parent and working to support her son. Good luck.