Dear Kirsten, 

My 26-year-old daughter lives close to me and her dad. She had a really bad break-up with her childhood sweetheart last year, they were together for just over ten years and we all thought they would go the distance and get married. The break-up was her choice but it was quite messy and both of them were very hurt. A few weeks ago she let me know she had begun a new relationship. Both her dad and I were thrilled until we met him last week.

He is very nice but he is 49, is separating from his wife and has two kids that live with her.

While he was here it came to light that the relationship had started as an affair. Things are moving quickly and my daughter is planning to move into his new place in a different city where she doesn't have many connections and no family.

My daughter is quite feisty and fiercely independent. I'm worried that she is moving in with a man who cheats on his wife and young children, that's much older than she is and is moving her to a different city away from everyone she knows. Should I say something?

(Name supplied)

Kirsten replies:

It's so tempting to intervene here - I really understand your concerns but - and it's a strong but - I would say and do nothing other than offer support and be alongside her if anything goes wrong.

It might be that this man loved his wife and children and the marriage didn't work despite their best efforts. It might be that he fell for your daughter and an affair was a momentary impulse that branched out into genuine care for your daughter.

Then there's the possibility that he is an older man, attracted to a much younger woman and able to walk away from his family to fulfil his own needs; it's easy to worry that this might not bode well for your daughter and if he has cheated and walked away once, he could easily for the same to her.

You love your daughter, want the best for her, had high hopes for her previous partner and understandably want to share your concerns and make sure she has her eyes wide open.

The thing is, while your concern and advice will be well meant and possibly very valid, it might alienate her at a time when she needs you and to keep the connection with you open. 

If this guy is what you worry he is, then she might have to face a relationship break up in a different city without her family to support her, at that point she will need to be able to reach for you and your support and not feel that there will be any judgement that the relationship has failed.

Maybe he isn't good for your daughter, maybe he will hurt her or cheat on her or maybe this relationship will be a success.

You just don't know yet and you've only just met her new partner. Any interference might come across as bossy or nagging and it's hard when you are in love to hear reason. 

You've raised your daughter to be the fiercely independent woman you describe her to be; it's unlikely that she has gone into this with her eyes shut. Try to trust her and that feisty streak she has.It sounds like she won't stand to be messed around, that she can think for herself and make choices from an informed place.

It was her that broke up with her previous partner, she made that choice to go after something different; she was able to assert herself and make a choice.

Try to trust that she can do the same here. If it goes wrong and your worries are valid, she will at least have an intact relationship with a mother who allowed her to make her own choices and learn from her own mistakes.

In the time between now and her move, try to get to know him a little better, give him the benefit of the doubt, show your daughter your support.

If you keep seeing red flags and find it too hard to not say anything, try to find a way to express your concerns without appearing critical; that feisty streak won't thank you for it.

All best wishes