My 15-year-old daughter has alarmed and shocked me by announcing that when she grows up she doesn't want a career, she wants to stay at home and be a housewife and mother. She says that she doesn't see any point in working hard at her GCSE exams and that it would be more use to her to have cookery lessons. I have always been a feminist who has fought hard for my rights at work, and I am extremely distressed that she does not want to even take the first steps towards a fulfilling and satisfying career. I have worked hard to pay for our home and lifestyle and do not want her to depend on the whims of some husband.
Martine, London WC2
UNCLE ONY: Children, like water, find their own level. Your daughter is not your clone - it's quite possible that seeing you "fighting for your rights" at work has put her off wanting to go through any such series of fisticuffs. Being a "career girl" is not for everyone and who's to say that having babies and baking lovely cakes isn't equally fulfilling? I often wish all I had to do was flit between nursery and kitchen!
AUNTIE AG: Darling, don't lose sight of the fact that the more you try to tell your daughter one thing, the more she will stick to the completely opposite point of view. So, damp down any too-ferocious opposition, however infuriating she may be. Start to make it as clear as possible the advantages of a decent job - discreetly make it known to her how much the upkeep of your lovely home costs, and (most important) take her shopping and wave all your super gold cards about. If all else fails, when exams start looming, use bribery - be shameless, angel, because this is important, as you say. Perhaps five Grade Ones might equal a Cordon Bleu cookery course? There are worse things in life than hooking a rich husband, sweetheart, but one always needs another string to one's bow.
THE OLD ONES ARE THE BEST ONES
I am 43 years old, divorced and have been alone for three years. At the office party a gorgeous 26-year-old, who works in another department to me, flirted with me enthusiastically. I thought it was just party spirit, but since then she has been smiling at me and making excuses to drop by my desk. I feel very shy about following up. I'm no Pierce Brosnan, frankly (beer gut, skinny legs), but a chance like this doesn't come along every day.
UNCLE ONY: Older men are seen by young women not as a mass of physical imperfections, but as mature - but also, perhaps, well-heeled, so be wary. I would tread very carefully - work affairs often end in tears, and I never recommend them. Join a reputable dating agency if you are feeling "frisky"!
AUNTIE AG: Most women would be terrified by the prospect of a date with Pierce Brosnan, darling (in any case, he has a small baby and a steady girlfriend, and probably doesn't pass through Swindon too often). Ask her out for a drink, at a convenient wine bar (preferably not the one where the whole office hangs out after work). Have a work-related project that you "need" to discuss in case the conversation turns sticky - but don't worry too much, angel, if you coped at the party you can certainly manage another a glass of Chardonnay or two.
My best friend is about to marry an incredibly rich and handsome merchant banker with a Porsche, who whisks her off for impromptu weekends in New York and showers her with diamonds. Quite frankly, I am horribly jealous. My husband, though quite sweet, looks like a frog with glasses and never takes me further than the local pizza house on a Saturday night. And I'm prettier than she is, too.
UNCLE ONY: Happy relationships are not about material things, Daisy. A pizza served with a garnish of love is a feast.
AUNTIE AG: Oh, for heaven's sake, Ony, a Porsche served with a garnish of love is even better. Sadly, life is a bit of a lottery when it comes to partners, darling. You could get divorced and try again, but diamond- and-Porsche wielders are few and far between, and most of them are spoken for. Hard luck, angel. Grit your teeth. Don't see your friend for a bit, until you get over it somewhat, because from the tone of your letter I think you might have trouble keeping your feelings in check.
IT SHOULD'VE BEEN ME
I have fallen out badly with a former friend of mine who works in the same office as me. I'd been there a lot longer than her and she was promoted over my head. Since then, I've sent her to Coventry and encouraged others to do the same. She seems very upset, but that job should have been mine.
UNCLE ONY: I'm afraid that your inner child is quite out of control, Charlotte. Quite frankly, it is running riot and needs to be checked. You need to see a therapist as soon as you can, who will put you in touch with it and help you calm it down - this will make you feel a lot more comfortable.
AUNTIE AG: Just because you are unhappy yourself does not give you the right to make everyone around you miserable, too, whatever inner-child rot Ony may spout. It's the spiritual equivalent of kissing people when you've got a bad cold. Was your friend supposed to say, "Oh, no, I can't take this promotion unless Charlotte gets one too?" - quite unreasonable! I'm sorry, angel, but you are behaving horribly towards this poor girl. Please stop it at once.
You are invited to send your problems to: Auntie Ag and Uncle Ony, Real Life, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL. Auntie Ag and Uncle Ony regret that they are unable to enter into any personal correspondenceReuse content