Friday 15 December 2017

Ask Brian: I want to follow my dream of moving abroad, but my two adult kids say I'm selfish

Ask Brian: I want to follow my dream of moving abroad, but my two adult kids say I'm selfish
Ask Brian: I want to follow my dream of moving abroad, but my two adult kids say I'm selfish
Brian O'Reilly

Brian O'Reilly

Our no-nonsense agony uncle gets straight to the point of your most pressing issues.

Dear Brian,

I have brought my two kids up on my own and the eldest is married and has just had her first baby. I just love my new grandchild to bits.

The problem is - I have always said to myself that as soon as my kids grew up, I would love to move abroad and live in a sunnier climate.

I now am in a position to move next year but my family were horrified when I mentioned it.

The guilt I feel at the moment is eating away at me and it not sure what to do anymore.

I thought people would be happy for me, especially as I've worked so hard over the years.

My elder sister snapped at me recently saying, 'How can you leave your daughter and grandchild?' - my daughter is aged in her late 20s.

My two grown up daughters are not happy about me wanting to start a new life and I have no doubt the emotional blackmail will start very soon from them.

What should I do?

Thank you,


(Portions of this submission have been edited to protect the identities of those involved)

Brian replies

Dear Anon,

I completely understand why you feel unhappy in this situation.

You have obviously put many of you personal ambitions in life on hold to raise your two children and doing it alone must have been tough.

You shouldn't feel selfish or be made feel guilty for finally putting yourself first and doing something you want to do - it's not like you're leaving them when they're in school and swanning off for sangria and a life of sun in the Canaries.

They are adults and while they will always rely on you, they no longer should depend on you.

I do understand your daughter's reaction though. She's just given birth and is going through a very overwhelming time as a first-time mother.

It's a sign of how well you have looked after her that she wants your help and guidance during this time of her life. 

She's going through a massive adjustment in her life as it is, and the thoughts of not having her mam physically there to guide her through it is probably a lot to take in right now.

You said you're not planning until moving next year, so there's no reason to press the issue with her right now.

I'm sure you're already helping her with your grandchild and guiding her through the early days, so continue to do that and keep the move off the agenda or as a topic of conversation.

You can firmly keep the move on the backburner - keep checking properties and gathering the other sort of information you need. But timing is everything in life, and right now the time probably isn't right to discuss it with them and receive a good response.

I'd imagine if you're planning on moving next year you'll probably start flying out to look at properties in the autumn, so you can leave the discussion until then.

You've made up your mind - you want to try it. And you deserve to be happy after all these years.

If you open the discussion now so far ahead of when you plan on moving, you're leaving yourself open to the emotional blackmail that may well destroy your resolve.

I think when you start the process of finding somewhere to live that's the time to be firm and explain you've made your decision.

They're probably afraid of losing such an important figure in their lives forever - but you can explain to them it's not like that at all and that it's something you've always wanted to try.

Point out to them that this is also a scary time for you, it's never easy to move abroad alone at any age.

You'll need their emotional support to help you make your dream a reality. And after decades of supporting them they should - after the shock subsides - support you. 

It might not be permanent, you might decide the life of sun and drinking wine in the afternoon isn't for you (yeah, right) - but you want to try it.

I think presenting it to them as a done deal in a few months will prevent the emotional guilt trip you fear. There may be an initial backlash but knowing the decision has been made will mean they hopefully won't harp on about it for months.

Do what you've always wanted to: you're not being selfish. But just remember timing is key.

Do you have a problem you'd like some advice on? Email  to submit in confidence.

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