Q My sister and I have had a week in a time-share in Spain for many years. We have children of similar ages and our two families have always gone there together every October half-term.
However, this year, our eldest daughter, who is 14, says she doesn’t want to go.
The problem is my sister’s son – her cousin – who is a year older. They just don’t get on any more. Our daughter is still quite young emotionally and hasn’t really discovered boys, parties or alcohol.
She is still happy to do things with us and gets on well with her sister and her younger female cousin.
Q My sister and I have had a week in a time-share in Spain for many years. However, this year, our eldest daughter, who is 14, says she doesn’t want to go
My nephew is the opposite. Occasionally, he can be quite good (amusing) company but often he’s a typical monosyllabic teenager – moody, scruffy, swearing, rude to my sister and trying to be cool.
My daughter was very upset as her cousin pressured her to try vodka
I know she has problems with him drinking and smoking. When we went to stay with them a few months ago, my eldest daughter was very upset because they went to a party that got out of control and at which her cousin pressured her to try vodka. I had to collect her in tears.
I think we should back out of the holiday this year, but my sister is upset and says her daughter will be very disappointed if her cousins don’t come. She believes the two eldest children can just ignore each other. I think she also wants my moral support.
What should we do?
A This is so difficult as you are torn in different directions. You are clearly close to your sister so it must feel sad for you both that your eldest children have, at the moment, turned out to be chalk and cheese.
I understand your daughter not wanting to go. She is at a fragile and sensitive age and the prospect of being on holiday with her elder cousin is daunting.
You could decide to miss it this time and see if things have changed next year. However, there is also a danger that if she doesn’t go, she might feel less capable of dealing with such problems in future.
You could skip it this time and see if things change next year
So, with your husband, ask if she feels she could manage to spend time with her sister and other cousin – if all the adults ensure her elder cousin cannot bully her. Make sure you really listen to her needs, though.
I am not sure it will be an easy holiday for anyone as your nephew sounds difficult. I’m sure your sister finds him a struggle and I wonder if her husband feels the same and whether he is supportive.
Sadly, there is a perception that smoking and drinking are ‘just what kids do’ at 15. However, both activities are illegal until 18 as they present serious health risks.
Public health charity Ash warns that the younger someone smokes the greater the risk of dependency and mortality.
You and your sister could contact youngminds.org.uk or family-action.org.uk for tips on how to help each child and each other.
Is my work success driving my husband away?
Q I have been married for 12 years to a man I consider my soulmate. We’re both in our mid-40s and have never had children. Our relationship has always been loving and strong and our sex life fantastic.
Recently, however, things have tailed off, with my husband saying he’s too tired to make love. I know couples go through less ‘physical’ phases, but this is not who we are.
The last time we tried he was unable to go through with it. I am devastated. It all changed shortly after I was promoted to a senior position at work – with me now earning more than my husband.
I did ask him if this was what was getting in the way of sex and he sniped back that not everything was about my wonderful career.
I know we should have counselling, but I am shocked to think that is where we’ve got to.
Q I have been married for 12 years to a man I consider my soulmate. Recently, however, things have tailed off, with my husband saying he’s too tired to make love
A As old-fashioned as it may seem, unfortunately some men do still feel very threatened, even emasculated, by their wife earning more than them.
It’s so unnecessary – and it’s sad for you that he cannot be supportive and celebrate your success. But yes, you do need to bite the bullet and suggest counselling because there is clearly more to this.
Perhaps he is miserable at work and desperately wants to leave but fears this would reduce him further. He might feel that you will stop loving him if he is not as successful as you. He may have other worries. Either way, he is unhappy.
Gently explain how much you love him (always start with this) and how happy you have always been with him. Say you are concerned that he is unhappy and you are anxious, wondering if he still loves you.
Try relate.org.uk or cosrt.org.uk.
- If you have a problem, write to Caroline West-Meads at YOU, 9 Derry Street, London W8 5HY, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow Caroline on Twitter @Ask_Caroline_