Life

Ask Fiona: My parents are smothering me

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers her perspective on family dramas, emotional issues and dysfunctional relationships. This week, a suicidal teen, over-protective parents and a chronic worrier

Maybe you're using your parents as an excuse not to form a social life of your own

I'M 19 and have no social life at all because my parents are so over-protective. I used to go to parties and stuff, but I don't bother any more because they insist I'm home by 11pm and they come and get me if I'm not.

It's so embarrassing. I've never had a boyfriend because my parents would go crazy. Do you think if I wasn't an only child they'd be less over-protective?

JB

FIONA SAYS: Stand up for yourself

I don't know why they are treating you like a child when you're legally an adult, but if you continue to see yourself as one, no doubt they will too.

While you live in their home, it is only reasonable you show them consideration and naturally they are concerned about you. Surely, though, it's time you stood up for yourself a bit more – they can't keep you as a child forever.

Explain that, while you acknowledge their point of view and their concerns, you believe that, as an adult, you should be allowed more freedom and independence. As for having a boyfriend, were you to be with one they trusted, they might stop worrying about you so much.

It does make me wonder if you're not using your parents as an excuse not to build a social life...

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I worry too much

I'VE always been someone who worries about things and about other people, but I worry about things that don't affect me at all and I wonder if this is normal. If someone tells me about a problem they've got, I worry for them so much, I lose my appetite and have sleepless nights.

Sometimes it's weeks before I get their problem out of my mind, sometimes even after it's stopped bothering them. I don't know anyone else who worries like me and I wonder if there is anything I can do to stop myself?

PD

FIONA SAYS: Have a chat with your GP

I get the impression your worrying has become worse recently and, if this is the case, it might be a side-effect of depression or anxiety. If that's the case, it might help to discuss things with your GP to see if you can't get to the bottom of what triggers this.

If you've always been this much of a worrier, perhaps it's an aspect of your whole personality and you will probably need professional help to make changes.

Whatever the cause – and there may be several – then do start with your GP, who might suggest you see a therapist for ongoing support. Finally, although you might want to keep the confidence of those who confide their worries to you, do you not have a friend who could help you put things in perspective?

Just sharing your worries with someone else might be enough to stop you brooding.

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Should I stop breastfeeding?

MY BABY is six months old now and I've been breastfeeding him since he was born. I was a bit surprised, last week, when my health visitor said it was time he was weaned.

She didn't offer a reason why and as I've always thought it was OK to go on for as long as my baby seemed to need it, she's left me worried. Am I doing the wrong thing and am I doing some harm to my baby if I carry on?

LD

FIONA SAYS: Babies need a balanced diet

As long as your baby is healthy and thriving, there is no right or wrong time to stop breastfeeding. Now he's six months old, he probably needs more to his diet than just your milk, but you can continue to keep breastfeeding him too.

Perhaps, in a rather heavy-handed way, your health visitor was trying to say your baby isn't getting enough to eat. Everyone's different; some mothers keep going until their babies become toddlers, whilst others stop after only a few weeks.

So please, feel free to continue if that is what you want, but perhaps ask the health visitor for clarification. If you want more help and advice then the Breastfeeding Network (breastfeedingnetwork.org.uk) could be very useful for you.

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I'm considering suicide

I'M 15 and I've had enough and think I should end my life. All my friends have boyfriends and I seem to be the only girl that doesn't.

Most nights I cry myself to sleep, but I can't tell my mum how I feel as she has problems of her own looking after the rest of the family.

HT

FIONA SAYS: Reach out to your mum

You obviously care about your mum so, for her sake, please don't do anything to yourself that would hurt her. However much she's got going on, she would want to know if you were feeling as awful as you say and she would want to try and help you.

In spite of what they might be telling you, not all girls have boyfriends by the time they are 15. Even if those within your own circle do, it could be because they started quite young whilst you and many others like you, wait until they're older.

Surely it is better to be with someone who is right for you, rather than have a boyfriend as a trophy? And it's certainly better not to have a boyfriend at all than have one that makes you feel bad about yourself.

Please do try and confide in your mum and, if not her, then an aunt, grandmother or other older friend.

Maybe they could help you find other ways of meeting people because the wider your group of friends, the greater your chances of meeting someone special.

Finally, if you ever find yourself getting desperate then don't forget the Samaritans (samaritans.org) who you can call on 116 123. They will talk to you at any time and in complete confidence, day or night.

If you have a problem you'd like Fiona's advice with, please email help@askfiona.net

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