Can you help solve an age-old problem?

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One of the most common issues for parents as their children grow up is that they hook up with partners who either appear to be, or really are, unsuitable.

Often they feel that no one is good enough for their son or daughter. Sometimes it leads to a permanent rift or things just rumble on, each dreading the next family occasion.

‘Clare’ came to me in despair as her daughter, ‘Emma’, had started seeing a lad who sounded, in her words, awful.

Emma was a clever girl who had gained a degree and had a teaching job. Joe was a part-time shop assistant.They had met one night in a pub and Emma had become smitten.

It was evident from the start that Emma was paying for everything as all his earnings went on parts for his motorbike, beer or gambling. He was verbally abusive to her and often Emma phoned her mum in tears.

Mum’s solution was clearly to get rid of him but she wouldn’t. Eventually they all met and their worst fears were founded. Joe was cocky, greedy and completely inappropriate in the way he spoke to people.

Emma bought a house, with parental help, and gave half over to him although he did not contribute financially.

Then there was a family holiday. Clare said they tried so hard to get on with him but the sight of him would make her feel sick. He would order the most expensive things on the menu although would never pay a bill. He even added a spa session to the holiday bill without offering to pay for it.

They have been together for eight years and just recently Joe asked Emma to marry him. She is over the moon. Her parents are in shock as they always hoped the relationship would fizzle out.

The idea of spending thousands on Emma’s dream wedding fills them with horror, but they are torn between their own feelings, the dread of losing their daughter if they make a stand and the thought that this lad is going to be a permanent feature in their lives and possibly father their grandchildren.

I would like to throw this open to readers. There is no right or wrong answer, but what do you think? Let me know, in confidence, at and I will report back next time.

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