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I don't want to share windfall with family

q My sister is currently expecting a baby. This will be the first grandchild on our side of the family. From a conversation with our mam I realised that I am expected to be the Godmother to the new baby. I have no problem being appointed guardian if something were to happen to my sister or her fiancé. However I am an atheist and as such would have a problem with the religious aspects of a ceremony, particularly agreeing to be the child's religious and spiritual guardian. My mother is convinced that it's just a phase I'm going through. What should I do? Is there any way to keep everyone happy?

a It's lovely to hear that your sister is awaiting the arrival of her first-born, which will no doubt be a source of great excitement for your whole family, and that you're expected to have a role in the baby's upbringing.

But before the child is born, it would definitely be a good idea to outline exactly what is expected of your new role and what you're comfortable with.

It's important for your family to respect your choice to be atheist, as much as you should respect their individual religious or spiritual beliefs

Have a chat with your mum to tell her how you feel and assure her that you're not going through a 'phase' but that you'd still like to be a key part of your niece or nephew's life. It's important that you come to an agreement that keeps everybody happy. After all, this is a time of joy and celebration.

q I was recently awarded a relatively large (well for me anyway) sum of money, due to a workplace accident four years ago. This money will allow me to relocate to Canada for a fresh start both professionally and personally. After the accident, I moved home for financial reasons and before I knew it four years had passed. Some members of my family see this as a lotto win and are expecting a share. My family have been very supportive since the accident. Now this may seem selfish but I have budgeted all of the money for my new life. I'm 32 and I see this as a last chance to get the life I feel I deserve rather than seeing my brother-in-law with a new flat-screen TV.

a Congratulations for getting the payment you deserve from the accident. Presumably, you had to go through a lot of physical and emotional stress to finally be awarded the money, so it's deeply disrespectful for family members to look upon it as a lucky windfall that they deserve to benefit from, too. You're absolutely within your rights to want to use the money to plan for your future in Canada, and it's something that you've worked hard for. So try not to feel selfish for wanting to use the money for yourself, but since your family has been so supportive, it would be a generous gesture to treat them to a meal out to say thank you for all they have done for you. You could use the get-together as a chance to explain how you will use the money to build the next chapter of your life.


I have been single for the last past years. Before that I was in a relationship with my first girlfriend for 2 years. I have lots of female friends through work and get on well with women in general. My problem is that my only real social circle is through work and they all see me as just a friend with no chance of anything further developing. After reading about it online I'm convinced that I'm now in the 'friendzone' with no way of escaping. I don't know whether I'm not manly enough to be seen as boyfriend material or whether the women I work with have unrealistic expectations of the men they are looking for. Any advice?

a I feel that you're probably over-thinking all of this. You obviously know how to attract a woman and what a long-term relationships requires from both partners. There can be a multitude of reasons for you to still be single. The women you work with may be in relationships, or you just lack that spark and physical attraction with them. The force that draws two people together doesn't come along as often as you might think, and you probably just haven't found it with the right person yet. It's an advantage that women you work with feel comfortable around you and you enjoy a good relationship with them, plus it's far more professional to keep it all friendly as office romances can sometimes be a bad idea. My advice is to focus on meeting women outside of your work, by joining a local club or group depending on your interests, or arranging a big get-together with friends who may be able to introduce you to someone.