Virginia Ironside's Dilemmas: My 67-year-old father is besotted with a 25-year-old woman

My brother and I looked her up on the internet and found she’s been in prison

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Dear Virginia,

My 67-year-old father, a widower, is besotted with a 25-year-old Chinese girl. He’s lent her a lot of money, and is talking of marrying her. My brother and I don’t trust her and we looked her up on the internet and found she’s been in prison for fraud. But when we told my father he said he knew about that but she’d promised she’d turned over a new leaf. Is there anything we can do? My brother has a special-needs child and is worried that when my dad dies, his money – which is considerable – will go to this scheming girl and not to us.

Yours sincerely,


Virginia says...

Love, as you know, is blind. I’m afraid there is no way you’ll be able to convince your father that this woman is a con artist. He’s old, he’s flattered this young girl wants to be with him, he loves the sex and the companionship, and he’s prepared to pay for it. He simply doesn’t want to believe that she hasn’t reformed. I don’t believe it either, and I think she is probably out for every penny she can get – house, pictures, your late mother’s furniture and jewellery (if there is any). It’s unlikely you’ll get so much as a look-in.

Did you never fall for someone unsuitable when you were young? And did everyone not say: “Jane, you’re mad, he’ll never marry you he’s only in it for the sex/he’ll never commit?” till they were blue in the face, and did you take a blind bit of notice? Of course not. When in love we can’t see and we can’t hear. Love is a siren’s call and we’re impervious to the warnings of others. It can be like a terrible drug and although I know how lovely it is, I have to say that it’s best to make no decisions at all while under its influence.

And if your father did realise what was going on, what then? He’d be broken-hearted: do you want that?  There’s very little you can do at the moment except, perhaps, ask him to make some kind of trust fund for his grandchildren. I don’t know how easily you can talk about death or wills in your family, of course, but it would be sensible for him to start, at this stage, handing some of his money over to you and your brother anyway so that, if he lives another seven years, you won’t have to pay death duties on it. And I certainly think you could ask for anything your mother left him, now. At least then, you will be sure of getting something. Perhaps you have a friendly family solicitor who could start dropping hints to your father – though bear in mind that it’s always possible to change a will and with pressure from this temptress I don’t think it would take much.

Now, however, is the time to get cracking on getting some advantage, before this girl has completely got her hooks into your dad. And if everything slips out of your grasp, comfort yourself that there are two advantages. Your father’s last years will be very happy and you’ll be sure of having some help in caring for him in his old age.

Virginia Ironside will appear in ‘Growing Old Disgracefully’ at the Edinburgh Assembly Rooms on 12 August

Readers say...

He needs love

You’ve said you’re worried about what will happen to your dad’s money when he dies. You haven’t given any indication you’re worried about how he’d feel if this woman broke his heart. If you only have misgivings because you might not get his money, then quite frankly, you don’t deserve it. Perhaps your dad has realised this, and is trying to wring whatever happiness he can from life before the inevitable happens.

Have an honest conversation about what is best for him. Show him that he doesn’t need to turn to a 25-year-old stranger to get love and attention, and that he can get it from those who love him in return. A happy person is much less easy to prey upon than an insecure one.

Lindsay, by email

Put her to the test

Suggest that your father should put his assets in your name (with the ability to access them any time) and tell his beloved. That way he will know if she is true or not. Even if he won’t agree to this suggestion, tell her that you have reached this agreement with him and that he won’t admit it to her for fear of losing her. You won’t see her for dust.

Alan Tanner, Glasgow

Next week’s dilemma

Dear Virginia,

Our son is taking drugs. He’s still at school – only 17 – and he’s into ketamine and cannabis, and he often comes home completely out of it. We’ve talked to him, we’ve asked the mother of a friend who is now mentally damaged as a result of it to come and talk to him, and even his own contemporaries are worried about him. But there seems to be nothing we can do. A friend has suggested we kick him out onto the streets, but neither my wife nor myself could bear to do that. Some of the time he seems fine. But is there anything you can suggest?

Yours sincerely,


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