Mother-of-nine, 45, is set to marry her toyboy lover who is 21 YEARS her junior despite him regularly being mistaken for her SON (and he is younger than three of her children)
- Tina Dickson, from Perth, Australia, is set to marry 24-year-old Brandon Dickson
- Pair met when chemical plant worker moved into spare room in November 2013
- Three eldest children – Samantha, 28, Brie, 27, Christopher, 25 – older than beau
- Family have been supportive but clashed at first over the huge age difference
A twice-married mother-of-nine plans to marry her toyboy lover who is 21 years her junior despite being regularly mistaken for her son.
Tina Dickson, 45, started a relationship with Brandon Dickson, 24, when he moved into her spare room in November 2013 – and the pair are now engaged.
They dated in secret for six months but since going public, both families have been incredibly supportive – despite nurse Tina, from Perth, Australia, being older than her future mother-in law.
Tina, who has two children with Brandon, said: ‘I count Brandon’s mum as a great friend, even though she’s younger than me. And my mum thinks Brandon’s the best thing since sliced bread. She tells all her friends about my younger man.’
Ironically, Tina – whose three children by her first marriage, Samantha, 28, Brie, 27 and Christopher, 25, are older than her beau – usually prefers older men, but was hoping to find a partner her own age when she fell for the chemical plant worker.
Tina Dickson, 45, plans to marry Brandon Dickson – despite him being 21 years her junior and often mistaken for being her son
The pair met in November 2013 when Brandon moved into Tina’s spare room in Perth, Australia. At the time Tina – who usually dates older men – was looking for someone her own age
Admitting to feeling awkward when they first got together, she continued: ‘At the start, I was almost embarrassed for Brandon. I didn’t want to hold his hand in public, in case we saw anyone he knew and they gave him a hard time.
‘Now, though, we just laugh it off. People’s negative opinions are their problem, not ours, and our families are both very happy for us.
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‘It’s that old saying – those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter.’
Meeting through mutual friends, when Tina – also mother to Steven, 23, Khan, 17, Serene, 15, and Holden, eight, from a previous relationship, as well as to her fiance’s children Elijah, four, and Toni, two – first encountered Brandon and he asked if he could rent her spare room, she had no romantic intentions.
She said: ‘After being single for four years, I was happy to have the extra cash, so I agreed to let out my spare room to him.
In 2014, the couple had a son Elijah, followed by Toni (pictured) in 2016. Soon after the birth of their second child – Tina’s ninth, after having Samantha, 28, Brie, 27 and Christopher, 25, by her first husband, and Steven, 23, Khan, 17, Serene, 15, and Holden, eight, from a previous relationship – Brandon proposed
The couple are speaking out about their relationship because they want to dispel some of the stereotypes around age gap couples and to encourage other people to be more open-minded
After dating in secret for six months, the couple told their family. Tina’s son Steven (left, pictured with Christopher) was angry at first because he is such a similar age to his stepfather
‘He seemed friendly enough, but I didn’t even think about a relationship. For one, he wasn’t my usual type – but there was also this huge age gap.
‘Back then, I was actually looking to meet a man my own age.’
Soon developing a strong bond, they often talked into the night.
She continued: ‘I assumed romance was totally out of the question, but then he’d make the odd comment here and there that got me thinking.
‘Eventually, about three months after we met, he asked me out on a date. I was excited, but also really nervous, as this was so new to me.
‘We got on really well, but wanted to be sure before we were introduced to our respective families. I had my children to think about and didn’t want them getting attached to somebody who wasn’t going to commit to us.
‘We were also a little worried about what people would say.’
After six months of secret dating – during which they abstained from having sex – they finally came out to their families, at first provoking mixed reactions.
The family are now incredibly supportive about the relationship despite the mixed reactions it first provoked. Pictured: Khan, Steven, Tina holding Elijah, Holden, Brie holding Toni, Samantha, Serene and Christopher
Tina, pictured with Brandon and Toni,says the couple are now more confident about their relationship and can laugh off snide comments
Tina recalled: ‘My son, Steven, was really angry at first, I think because he’s such a similar age to Brandon.
‘He’s come round now, though. They get on absolutely brilliantly, all the kids do. My 27-year-old even bought Brandon a jokey Father’s Day gift.
‘Everyone else was incredibly supportive. Of course, they were a little dubious, but then they saw how happy Brandon makes me, and that’s all they want for their mum.’
After going public, the couple started planning a life together – having Elijah in 2014, followed by Toni in 2016, soon after which Brandon proposed.
Tina, who is yet to set a wedding date, continued: ‘It was a total surprise, but lovely. It was very simple. He came home one day, all grubby from work, and asked me to marry him there in our bedroom.
‘We’re real homebodies, so it was fitting it happened in our house, around our close-knit family.’
But not everyone has been as positive as their families about their age-gap love, according to Tina, who said Brandon is often mistaken for either her son, or her daughter’s boyfriend.
Confident about their relationship, she now laughs off snide comments, which she would once have found hurtful, saying: ‘We don’t concern ourselves with what people think of us anymore. We try to be positive and stay laughing.
Tina, pictured with Brandon and Toni after she was born, said: ‘People’s negative opinions are their problem, not ours, and our families are both very happy for us. It’s that old saying – those who matter don’t mind, and those who mind don’t matter’
The only time the 21-year age gap becomes an issue is when Brandon listens to music, which drives Tina ‘insane’
‘Once we were in the supermarket buying some food and alcohol, and Brandon got asked for ID, because he does look very young.
‘The cashier kept saying how cute he is, then said, “Your mum must be so proud”, meaning me. He chuckled, smacked my bottom and went, “She’s not my mum”.
Tina said: ‘Since I met him, I finished my nursing degree and started a midwifery one – and I truly believe that’s down to his encouragement’
‘The cashier looked shocked, but this group of big, burly guys in the queue behind us burst out laughing.
‘Other times, when he’s with Elijah or Toni, people will see him cuddling them and say to me, “Your son will make a wonderful dad one day”. Little do they know!’
Tina said the only time when their age gap becomes obvious is when it comes to Brandon’s taste in films and music.
She continued: ‘His music drives me insane, I can’t stand listening to it. I’ll talk to him about movies, too, forgetting most of my favourites came out before he was even born.
‘He’s a real old soul, though. He’s not interested in going out partying all the time. He’s kept me grounded and brought out the best in me.
‘Since I met him, I finished my nursing degree and started a midwifery one – and I truly believe that’s down to his encouragement.’
Now, by sharing her story, Tina hopes to dispel some of the stereotypes around age gap couples and to encourage other people to be more open-minded.
According to Tina, all the kids now get along with Brandon, and her daughter Brie even bought him a jokey Father’s Day present. Pictured: Tina, Brandon and Holden
People who mistake Brandon for her son often say ‘Your son will make a wonderful dad one day’ – not realising he is already a father-of-two. Pictured: Tina, Brandon and Serene
‘Of course, I think about what will happen when I’m older,’ she said.
‘I hate the thought of leaving Brandon and the children alone, but you can’t live like that. Anything can happen at any time, so we take each day as it comes.
‘I never would’ve considered dating a younger man before Brandon, as I thought they were all immature.
‘Now, though, I see that stereotypes do no good. I want to teach my kids that, too, and show them that love can come in all forms, at any time.’
Tina is also keen to share her philosophy with the wider world that there should be no age limit to love.
She added: ‘Don’t be too rigid, and close too many doors, as you may just overlook the love of your life.
‘I never dreamed I’d be spending the rest of my days with someone younger than three of my children but when you click, you click. Five years on, we still say “I love you” every single day, and we never argue.
‘Our situation and our family may seem crazy, but as long as we have each other, we’re happy.’
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