Our relationships counsellor answers your problems: My son is being blackmailed over his baby
Q My son, aged 39, became smitten with a Brazilian girl he met on Tinder. They talked for half a year, she said she loved him – and he went to South America to be with her for three months. Almost immediately (the first week!) she became pregnant. My son was delighted and full of plans for her to come to England to marry.
He was even more overjoyed when their little boy was born. Then came postnatal depression and everything changed. She was critical and said hurtful things; she swung between being loving and hateful. She refused to put my son’s name on the birth certificate.
A few months ago, he went to Brazil for two weeks to meet his child for the first time. He was allowed to see him twice but had to stay in a hotel. Every day he was told he could see his baby, then his girlfriend changed her mind. My son came home heartbroken. He’s been sending her nearly half his wages since the baby was born.
An anonymous woman has revealed that her son, 39, met a Brazilian girl on Tinder. She explains that they share a child together, which her son has barely seen. The mother keeps him away
Although she has sent him videos and photos, she has also ‘blocked’ him for periods. Recently she moved and refused to tell him her new address. She says if he doesn’t keep sending money she will cut off all contact.
I love my son for being honourable and wanting to support his child, but it has become blackmail. He says he can’t give up on his son, even though he now thinks this woman is evil. What should I do?
A I don’t think your son’s so-called girlfriend has postnatal depression. I fear the reality is that this baby is clearly not his. Sadly, it appears as though he has been the victim of a scam – possibly with the collaboration of the baby’s real father.
The fact that his ‘girlfriend’ claimed to have got pregnant within a week suggests as much. That she also won’t put him on the birth certificate speaks volumes. I’m sure she wouldn’t agree to a DNA test. I think you should raise with your son the possibility that he’s been conned.
At first he might have difficulty in accepting it but, over time, it will come as a relief. He might feel rather silly or naive. However, scammers tend to target those who are kind. Instead, your son should feel proud of his good heart.
But I suspect that before he met this woman he was perhaps quite lonely. It sounds as if she put on a very convincing act of being massively in love with him until he was hooked. I do hope that once he realises the truth, it will help him to put this whole painful, horrible experience behind him – and to start to look to the future.
He might want to consider counselling because both his trust in women and self-esteem must have been dealt a blow. He could try relate.org.uk, or ask his GP for a referral. He could also contact stepchange.org for help in getting back on his feet financially.
I CAN’T FACE MY SUCCESSFUL SISTER’S PARTY
Q I don’t want to go to my younger sister’s 60th birthday party. We get on well enough and haven’t argued since we were growing up ‒ it’s just that she and her husband are wealthy and successful and she is incredibly glamorous. It’s in stark contrast to my own life.
My husband and I still have a strong marriage of over 30 years but have faced a lot of financial difficulties and our daughter, who we love dearly, has been a huge challenge. My sister is oblivious to our troubles and I find her a little shallow. Her party will be full of her successful and stylish friends and I won’t know what to say to them.
A I wouldn’t blame you for telling a white lie to get out of it, but that might only make you feel guilty. Please stop being dismissive of your situation. A happy marriage of such endurance in the face of so many challenges is a huge success in itself – and a sadly elusive one for many.
You would be surprised at how many ‘glamorous and successful’ people are often coping with their own struggles. High achievement can mask deep insecurity, or the curse of perfectionism.
So wear a fabulous dress (borrowed if needs be), dye any grey in your hair (even if only temporarily), wear plenty of perfume (it boosts mood) and go with as much confidence as you can muster.
The best tip for parties is to ask questions – many people hate small talk and the most interesting conversations are those that dig a little deeper. Ask the guests what things have made them happiest or saddest in their lives. It can provoke fascinating conversations.
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