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Name: Christa
My age: 24

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The dilemma I have a year-old daughter. I still see my daughter regularly and she is close to my wife and the two other children we have. Last week I was informed that her new boyfriend is a little older than her.

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He also has a wife and two children who he is preparing to leave to be with my daughter. I am, in equal measures, furious, horrified, embarrassed, ashamed and desperate. This new boyfriend is older than my wife, who is I am My daughter wants me to meet this man, but I am too shocked and angry that a man of his age and with his responsibilities could behave in this manner.

How should I handle this?

I am too embarrassed to talk to my friends about it. Mariella replies I feel your pain. Your job was to raise her and teach her how to be the best adult possible. Your situation is a parental nightmare, but not the most unusual of scenarios.

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In many ways his age is of less concern than the family he is about to forsake. Having been through a family breakup yourself you are well equipped to understand the legacy of such a separation. Is your anger being exacerbated by still-painful memories of the demise of your own relationship? Unresolved pain and anger might be pushing you towards your entrenched opposition.

It might give you the impetus to overcome your instincts and swallow your pride.

Refusing to meet the man she thinks she loves is a mistake. It puts all the power in his corner by casting you as the intolerant villain.

Your first — albeit unappealing — step has to be to meet the object of her affections and treat him with civility. Refusing to engage with him will only propel her further into his orbit and dissipate any leavening influence you might have.

Meeting him is a must otherwise your objections are based only on your misgivings, not the individuals involved. An age gap can boil down to semantics once you start arguing about whether a year divide is better than 20 and so on. There are many successful relationships between partners of wildly disparate ages.

You need to work out exactly what your objections are before you can expect to be given a fair hearing. Few d welcome the moment their daughters transfer their affections to other men and you do seem to be taking it particularly to heart. It could explain her eagerness to establish a family anew.

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Your goal should be to create an environment where a calm and reasoned discussion about the responsibilities she is about to find herself shouldering can be had. With that as your focus, familiarise yourself with your protagonist, make tolerance your watchword and try to support your daughter as she negotiates this volatile emotional terrain.

If you have a dilemma, send a brief to mariella. Follow her on Twitter mariellaf1. Dear Mariella Family.

My daughter is dating a man more than twice her age. Photograph: Alamy. Mariella Frostrup.

Sun 24 Sep Topics Family Dear Mariella Relationships features. Reuse this content.