I have a young daughter who has always been a delight - until she hit her teens quite recently. Since then she has become a nightmare. My husband and I are at our wits' end. Nothing we do is right. We are too old, not trendy enough, we are sad wrinklies. Our clothes are pathetic, our car is pathetic, our house is pathetic, our taste in music is pathetic. The latest complaint, the straw which has broken the camel's back and caused me to write to you, is that when she last had her friends round I cooked them lamb chops instead of fajitas or burritos or whatever. What can we do?
Geraldine, via e-mail
Aunty Ag: Well, at least you've mastered e-mail - you can't be that decrepit. Fight fire with fire. Buy a miniskirt and Doc Martens, or better still one of those weird trouser-plus-built-in-skirt combos and meet her from school in it. Next time she has her friends round, be sashaying round the living room to Boyzone in your new gear. Not only get some trendy food (you can buy it all frozen, don't worry) but insist on sitting down to eat it with them - hey, trendy mum wants to be one of the girls! Before you know it, she will be begging you to get back into your comfy slacks and vanish off to grill some chops.
Uncle Ony: The transition from child to woman is a hard one and your daughter is testing the boundaries of her burgeoning young adulthood. She needs points of constancy now more than ever, and secretly does not want you to change one iota. You will be the constant lodestar in her changing universe, so don't be taken in by her rebelliousness - and don't be hurt by it either. By the time she's your age she'll be just like you (but don't point that out if you want to keep the peace).
I am very pissed off with my wife. She has started playing some stupid role-playing game on the internet and vanishes, sometimes for hours, only to return with virtual bear's blood dripping from her virtual axe, muttering about secret chambers and valiant explorers and black pearls and the like. What can I do to discourage this? She is normally a very gentle and sweet- natured woman and it worries me that she spends so much time in what sounds like some kind of medieval virtual bloodbath. Also our phone bills for the internet connection are getting frightening.
JL, via e-mail
Aunty Ag: Lighten up, JL. There are far worse (and much more expensive) ways she could be spending her time: macrame, rally-driving, hard drugs and serial adultery spring to mind, to name but a few. Insist she pays the phone bill, buy her a lovely anorak and tease her mercilessly until she gets fed up with the whole thing.
Uncle Ony: Many hubbies would be delighted for the little woman to have a hobby, particularly one that's quiet, contained and doesn't take her out of the house - at least she's under your eye, after all. In these modern times, many of us suffer from a build-up of stress with no way of releasing it, which is very bad indeed. Killing virtual bears sounds like an ideally soothing way to let out aggressive feelings. If she wasn't doing it she might be taking those feelings out on you!
Much to my amazement and delight, I am dating a younger man! We are both unattached and I think he is lovely, so no problem there. The problem is that we are gradually edging towards a bedroom-type situation and I'm worried that he will be terribly disappointed when I take my clothes off, as he is nearly 20 years younger than I am.
Aunty Ag: Oh, really, don't worry! He wants to do this - it's not as if you're dragging him reluctantly to your boudoir. You'll probably find you can teach him a thing or two!
Uncle Ony: I suspect this young chap wasn't attracted to your body in the first place, given the age difference - he is more likely to have fallen for your personality. And that won't change no matter what other activities you may get up to. So carry on, secure in your mature confidence, like a galleon in full sail! But try to avoid turning your back on him with no clothes on; the back view of a lady of a certain age in the nude is probably enough to terrify a skittish young thing.
Send your problems to Aunty Ag and Uncle Ony at the Independent on Sunday, Canary Wharf, 1 Canada Square, London E14 5DL or firstname.lastname@example.orgReuse content