Ask Rosanna: 'His Dublin accent means my mum thinks he's not good enough for me'
A new boyfriend's strong Dublin accent, a weight problem with a difference and a teen being pressurised into having sex for the first time
Q: my boyfriend talks with a bit of a Dublin accent and I've zero issue with that, but my mother has a huge problem. I've been with him for two years and we're both in our mid-20s and pretty serious about one another.
We recently moved in together and the look of horror in my mother's eyes when I told her was alarming. My partner knows nothing of this, but from a young age, I have seen what a snob she can be and it's clear to me that she wanted me to end up with some well-to-do type of man who has no, what she would call, "rough edges".
We've never spoken about this, but I'm serious enough about this man to plan my future around him and I despise her unspoken disapproval of him based on where he came from and how he speaks - he has a good job, he comes from a beautiful family and, most importantly, he is a kind and generous man. Should I confront her?
A: I'm genuinely sorry to hear that your mother has a problem with how your boyfriend speaks, and accents obviously don't make the tiniest bit of difference to a person's character.
I'm glad to hear that you're so serious about him, and ready to defend him against your mum's preconceptions. But it's also important to avoid any conflict with her, as that could make interaction and family occasions even more awkward.
I wouldn't suggest that you behave in a confrontational way towards her, but if she says anything about how your boyfriend speaks, then I would definitely let her know that you're extremely serious about him, and that he's a very kind, loving and generous person, which is what matters to you.
Once she understands how happy you are and that your relationship shouldn't be for her to make decisions on, then she will hopefully back off.
Q: I try to eat healthy but I never put on any weight, so I seem to end up eating junk food no matter what my good intentions are.
There's just no motivation for me to prepare salads and vegetables when I can eat all the pizza and chocolate in the world and stay a slim size eight.
I've no cellulite either and my skin is pretty good. I am, however, in my late 30s now and wonder about my health - I never exercise either so I've basically no concept of what I should be doing as I prepare to enter another decade.
Lastly, I smoke about 10 cigarettes a day, so basically, I do everything I shouldn't and yet I look really healthy. I just wonder about what the picture is on the inside. Is now the time to make changes and if so where do I start?
A: You're very lucky to have been able to maintain your health and looks, despite making some less than healthy food and lifestyle choices. But this may not realistically last forever, and it's important to think about your inner health as you approach your 40s.
In certain situations, a person may look very healthy and slim on the outside, but have an accumulation of fat around their inner organs, and that may be far more dangerous for long-term health than being visibly overweight.
My advice is to begin by making small steps in the right direction and to focus on progress rather than huge overnight changes. It will benefit you so much in the long run, and it's never too late to adopt healthier habits. Start by including at least five servings of fresh fruit and vegetables a day, in addition to lean protein and healthy sources of fat, including avocado and nuts or seeds.
Try to think of junk food as a weekend treat, if you can aim to make healthy decisions during the weekdays. I would definitely suggest you try to cut down on your smoking habit and aim to get out for a brisk 30-minute walk each day. Remember to drink plenty of water and take enough time to sleep and relax each day.
Q: My friend is being pressurised by her boyfriend to have sex but she really doesn't feel ready. We're all 16 and she thinks it's too young, but she really likes him and is afraid he will dump her if she doesn't cave in to the constant pressure.
I really think she should hold strong, but her confidence is not great and she thinks she's beyond lucky to have this guy as her fella.
What can I say to make her see that she needs to trust her gut on this one?
A: You're right to be a concerned friend in this situation, because absolutely nobody should feel pressured into having sex when they don't feel ready. It's always a good idea to trust your gut instincts too, as they're rarely wrong.
I strongly advise you to have a very honest and direct conversation with her to explain your concerns and to offer your support as a worried friend.
Make sure she knows that if this is the right guy for her, then he will wait as long as it takes for her to feel ready to take the relationship further.
She will build more respect from him if she is the one to call the shots, and he is not the person worth being with if he ends the relationship because of this.
Also, make sure she knows that he is just as lucky to be with her, and try to boost her confidence to be in the position to make these decisions for herself.
Tell how proud of her you would be if she thought hard about what she wants to do, and makes the right decision for her and nobody else.