Ask me anything!

Denise 4 copyOur much-loved agony aunt, Denise Robertson answers your problems in Candis Magazine every month. Here she deals with a difficult teenager, a meddling mother in law, and an uncaring husband…

“My daughter has hit the terrible teens”

My eldest daughter has turned into a monster and is making my life a misery. Over the last year she hit 14 and has become disrespectful, a bully to her brothers and sisters, she lies, she is rude and at times I can’t believe it’s the same child. I just don’t know what to do. I was not like this when I was her age. She has all the things I longed for at her age and yet it never seems enough and it’s causing me to become depressed. I love her but I don’t like her and I feel terrible for it – a mother not liking her own child. I just don’t know what to do with her. Please help. Kathleen

I understand how you feel and believe me, you’re not alone. Quite often, a mother’s early menopause can coincide with her daughter’s adolescence. In time, both situations pass and mother and daughter are reconciled again – so don’t despair. I suggest you talk first to your GP. He or she can help with your depression and help you to regain your usual stamina. Then talk to Family Lives on 0808 800 2222. They can really help with emotional support and practical advice. Make sure that there is nothing happening at school or with friends that is causing her stress. Use humour when you can and remember, however tough she may seem, your loving daughter is still inside there and will return to you one day.

“My mother-in-law’s mischief is upsetting us all”

Although I’ve tried for years to establish a good relationship, my mother-in-law puts me down all the time. She won’t speak to me on the phone when she calls – she just stays silent until I pass the phone to my hubby. She tells the children not to tell me what they do when they’re with her as she says, “I’ll stop them from having fun.” It’s got to the point where even my hubby can see that she’s behaving badly. She’ll even try to buy our little one something she knows I intend to buy him so she can give it first. Now, my hubby wants to stop her from coming round as she upsets us both so much. Is there another way to deal with her mischief making? Juliette

I wish I knew whether or not she feels she has a reason for such bizarre behaviour. Have you ever asked her? Or could something have happened to sour the relationship? When she rings, try to engage her in conversation. Ask how she is, or whether or not she’s been out today. Try to make her reply rather than just handing over the phone. If you stay silent and pass the phone over, then you, too, are behaving in an unkind way. Don’t let her make you behave badly. The way to overcome her other antics is to ignore them. You should behave well and don’t let her bad behaviour drag yours down. Banning her from the house would only feed her feelings of persecution and make matters worse. She is your husband’s mother and he is bound to have feelings for her, no matter what she does. But he should do everything he can to build bridges between you and her. The important thing is for you to be happy as a family, no matter what she does. Once you cease to care, you rob her of the satisfaction of upsetting you. If she’s being deliberately spiteful, this should make her see it’s a waste of time. If she can’t help herself because of some mild mental health problem, then feel sorry for her, but never lose sight of the fact that you, your husband and your children are the family unit and nothing and no one can change that.

“I can’t believe my husband is so uncaring”

We recently tried for a baby – our third – and I was over the moon when we were successful. Then our circumstances changed with my partner losing his job and about four weeks later I miscarried. I was devastated, but he was relieved – and made no secret of it, saying it’s just as well as we can’t afford another child any more. He doesn’t understand how upset this has made me and when I suggested we maybe leave it for a while and try in a year, he told me he wants to go for a vasectomy. His attitude is making me question our marriage. Please help. Marianne

Two painful disasters struck your family. You lost a much-loved baby. He lost his job, which meant he became afraid of not being able to provide for his wife and family and the coming baby. When you lost the baby, I’m sure he, too, grieved but also felt relieved from one small part of the burden of providing. Of course, he was insensitive and unkind, but I wonder if he might feel that you have shown too little understanding of his feelings over the job loss. To most men, their identity is bound up in their job and losing it is humiliating and frightening. They feel a failure for letting their family down and wonder if they’ll ever work again. Your suggesting another baby may simply have made him feel worse and it could be that him saying he wants a vasectomy could simply be a reaction to your suggestion. Now you need to comfort one another and start to rebuild the happiness you had before life was so unkind. Once he’s back in work, you can think about another baby. I think you’ll find his reaction then very different.

If you’d like Denise to answer your problem, email

Please note, sadly, Denise can’t guarantee to answer all the problems she’s sent.

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