The prosecution: Dina
Of course Mum can see who she likes, but I find it hard to have men who aren’t my dad in our home
The dynamic between me and my mum has always been tricky, even though I love her a lot. We never used to see eye to eye when I was a teenager. I felt she didn’t show much interest in my life, and we were very different. She didn’t get me, and I didn’t get her.
Now I’m 23, and we are much closer, although our relationship changed a lot when my dad moved out three years ago. My parents are not divorced, but they aren’t together and their marriage had been rocky for a while.
My sister Lizzy moved out last year, but I’m still at home as I can’t afford to rent on my own at the moment. I’m lucky that my mum doesn’t charge me anything, but I’m finding it hard to deal with her new relationships. Of course she can do what she wants, but sometimes I find it hard.
Her latest partner comes around a lot – I’d rather not have to make small talk with him
She was seeing someone a while back who my sister and I really disapproved of. He was overbearing and talked over us. I remember coming home from work to see this guy walking around, telling us what he would change around the place. He said we needed faster wifi and a different light fitting. I was thinking, “Who are you, mate?”
Mum didn’t go out with him for long, but it felt wrong having someone like that in our home who wasn’t our dad. Another time she dated a guy who was really rude to Lizzy. He criticised her food choices because she doesn’t eat meat, and my mum didn’t stick up for her. That irritated me. Her latest partner comes around a lot, and, although he’s polite and keeps to himself, I’d rather not have to make small talk with him.
He stays over occasionally and Mum has never run that past me. I just wake up – and suddenly he’s there. She says: “I don’t have to ask your permission to date”, but I’d just like to know if there’s going to be a man around. I like to walk around in my underwear and feel comfortable and I can’t do that with someone else there.
I want Mum to be happy, but I think it’s hard for her to understand how it feels to see her with someone else who isn’t my dad in our home. I think she just sees it as me trying to be difficult.
The defence: Noreen
I have to move on and live my life – and this is my house. I’d love Dina to get to know my new guy
Dina loves to dictate her choices to me. “Dina the dictator”, I call her. As if I’m not going to live life how I want to in my own house. It is also Dina’s home, and she’s welcome to stay for as long as she needs, but if she doesn’t like me having someone over, she can go off and run her own house (that’s a joke – I’d never kick her out).
I know the girls found it hard when I broke up with their father, but it wasn’t anyone’s fault – we’d just drifted apart. Dina and I have always had a difficult relationship. Dina was probably a bit closer with her father. But she is my daughter and I’m very proud of her.
She does get a bit moody whenever I bring anyone over to the house. In three years there have only been a couple of people, but it doesn’t matter to Dina – she shuts down in front of them and can be quite abrupt. The guy who suggested a different wifi provider really annoyed her. Her reaction was almost comical.
Half the time Dina’s not here when I invite my partner over. I try to makes sure there is as little overlap as possible
In his defence, I’d asked him to come to the house to help me with some DIY, as I needed a hand. But the way Dina acted, you’d think this guy was trying to move in. Now I’m dating someone I really get along with. We go for meals and walks, and sometimes he stays over, just normal stuff.
Dina has said she doesn’t mind him being around, but now and again she will make a comment about him encroaching on her space. But it doesn’t happen very often, as I prefer to go to his place. I also don’t think that I need to run every guest visit past my daughter. One time Dina complained about not being able to walk around in her underwear when someone else is around, but I’d prefer it if she didn’t do that anyway.
She also has a busy social life herself, so half the time she’s not even here when my partner comes over. I do try to organise it so there is as little overlap as possible. I’ve also suggested we all go out for a meal so she can get to know him properly, but I think she’d rather not.
In the meantime, I have to live my life. We all have to try to get along – change is an inevitable part of life.
The jury of Guardian readers
Should Noreen keep her love life out of the family home?
Noreen’s partner sounds nice. Dina doesn’t have to make small talk, but I hope she doesn’t drive him away. Does she want her mother to always be single? I think she must accept her mother’s guests.
Noreen has the right to date and have guests in her own home. Dina’s discomfort with her mother’s partners visiting is understandable, but Noreen is making an effort to maintain a harmonious household.
Dina’s behaving like a spoilt child, living at home, rent-free, expecting Noreen to live like a nun, while she pleases herself. Noreen might mention someone’s coming over as a courtesy. Dina could always go out!
Dina should let her mum make her own romantic choices. And she should be more tolerant of her mum making mistakes with her choice of partner. We all make them! Maybe the answer is an open discussion between Dina and Noreen, about why Dina finds it hard to see her mother move on.
It’s painful when parents separate, and Dina is getting an uncomfortably intimate view of the fallout. I get that Dina is an adult but that doesn’t mean Noreen doesn’t have to think about protecting her feelings at all any more. But it works both ways: Dina could also do a lot more to consider her mother’s happiness.
Now you be the judge
In our online poll below, tell us: should Noreen keep her love life out of the family home?
The poll closes at 10am on Thursday 5 October
Last week’s result
We asked whether Abbie should stop borrowing clothes from Mara.
85% of you said yes – Abbie is guilty
15% of you said no – Abbie is innocent