Dear Miriam

My siblings and I are really worried about our mother. She turned 60 in August. She has always been a great mother, but what is happening now is truly difficult to witness. Our dad says he loves her no matter what, but I think he is simply afraid to confront her.

Since August, she has completely changed her hairstyle and wears clothes that are more suited to somebody in their 20s. She has had several piercings including her eyebrow and nose. The final straw for me was a tattoo. Her own friends seem to have distanced themselves from her. I don’t know how my dad puts up with it.

We are wondering is this a post-menopause situation? Is it something to do with reliving her lost youth? She has grandchildren as well and is a wonderful granny in every way, except her dress code.

How can we get her to see sense and start behaving age-appropriately?

Embarrassed Daughter

Dear Embarrassed Daughter,

It sounds like your mother has decided to reinvent herself following her 60th birthday. I am sorry you and your siblings are experiencing embarrassment. The fact is your mam is entitled to live her life however she sees fit.

You and your siblings do not have to like it, but equally, you do not have a right to judge her. It may be she put her own life and desires on hold until she had her family reared? Turning 60 has made her more aware of her mortality and it would seem she is choosing to live a more authentic life now.

If her own friends are distancing themselves from her, that is about them, not about your mam. You cannot change your mother, but you and your siblings can change how you are around her. Acceptance is the key here.

What would it be like to look more objectively at this situation and see it for what it truly is? This is about a lady who has turned 60 and suddenly realises the importance of living as opposed to existing. Be happy for her that she now has the freedom to do this. Your dad is showing his love for her by not judging her. It may be a good idea to take a leaf from his book.

What is going on for you and your siblings that you feel the need to judge her or feel embarrassed by her new look? There is no age limit in having a piercing or getting a tattoo. Live and let live. She is still the loving mother that reared you.

Why not have a gentle conversation with her and ask her about all of these changes and what they mean to her? You may be glad you did and as a result be better able to accept what is going on. I wish and your family the best.

Dear Miriam

I am writing in reply to the student who is not happy with their course (10 February edition). I would agree that they should talk to one or both parents regarding the situation.

With regards to their course, my advice is to at least finish out the academic year and talk to careers service in their college to explore all their options. Depending on whether they are attending a university or a technological university, they may be able to avail of an exit award i.e. a higher certificate after two years or an ordinary degree after completing three years.

They should also explore all the possible routes into archaeology and the qualifications recognised by the Institute of Archaeologists of Ireland. There may be a graduate diploma or a conversion masters that they could do in addition to their business degree that would permit them to work in archaeology. If no such qualification is available in Ireland, the British system may have opportunities for conversion.

Archaeologists probably have to write proposals seeking funding for projects, or report on completed projects. A knowledge of accountancy may serve them well in those endeavours.

Wishing them well,

Third-level lecturer