Ask Fiona: My son is a recluse

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My son is 26 and, over the last few years, he’s become more and more of a recluse.

If he’s not working, he spends all his time in his room on his computer and hardly ever goes out with friends any more. I don’t get into his room to clean it very often. He was always so outgoing when he was younger so I don’t know what’s happened to make him this way, but it worries me hugely. Do you think there is something wrong with him and should I be doing more to help him?

There may be something wrong with him but I also think you should be doing less.

He’s 26 and he shouldn’t be dependent on his mother to clean his room. You need to encourage his independence – to have a place of his own, ideally, at his age, sharing with other young people.

If he won’t talk to you about what’s worrying him, at least involve him more in looking after himself. Make him do his own washing and take part in family activities like cleaning the rest of the house, food preparation, gardening and so on.

MY YOUNG DAUGHTER IS TOO WORKED UP ABOUT HER EXAM

My daughter is ten and a very talented young musician and she is due to take a grade six exam next term, but she is getting more and more upset at the prospect of failing.

I’ve tried to explain to her that it really doesn’t matter and that we will love her just the same whether she passes or fails, but she’s still fretting. I’ve spoken to her teacher who told me she should get through it quite easily but I’m worried this expectation is just putting more pressure on her. Should I stop the lessons or, if not, what can I do to help her?

You’re already doing all the right things.

Keep telling her that you will still love her, whatever the outcome and reassure her that all she can do is her best. Many children and young people (as well as adults) get very anxious when it comes to exams.

I’m sure her music teacher (if she’s any good) is quite used to helping children cope. There are some teachers, though, who push children up the exam grades because they think it enhances their own reputation. To test this you could suggest your daughter only has lessons for pleasure for a while.

TEMPTED BY AN AFFAIR

Nine years ago I almost had an affair with a married man who was, he said, dreadfully unhappy with his wife.

I resisted and walked away because even though I did love him, I knew there was no future together.

I met someone else and for the past four years we’ve been happily married and now have two children. Somehow, though, the first man has found me and has said he would like us to get together again. He is, of course, still married to his wife. I know I still have feelings for him – I don’t think I ever stopped loving him. But why am I even thinking about an affair with him?

He clearly has no intention of leaving his wife because otherwise he would already have done so.

You have a loving husband and a wonderful family, all of which you stand to lose if you continue to see this man.

He’s bad news.