Life

Ask Fiona: Is my daughter too vain for her own good?

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers her perspective on family dramas, emotional issues and dysfunctional relationships. This week: loneliness, vanity and scarring

The teenage years can be difficult for parents as well as the young people themselves

I'M really worried about my 14-year-old daughter who seems obsessed with her looks.

She's forever trying out new hairdos, worrying about her looks and experimenting with make-up.

She's a perfectly pretty looking girl and although she's not worried about her weight, I'm afraid that will be the next thing.

I'm getting concerned that this goes way beyond normal.

KP

FIONA SAYS: Adolescence is all about finding yourself – who you are, what you are and the kind of person you want to be.

That includes your looks and clothes, just as much as it does finding your role in life, so what your daughter is doing is a normal part of growing up.

Trying different clothes, make-up, hair styles and colours is a fun part of understanding herself, so please don't spoil it for her.

It's a compliment to you that she feels safe and relaxed enough at home to go through these changes.

I'm pleased to hear she's not worried about her weight and hopefully that won't be an issue for her.

If it becomes so, do talk to your GP or write to me again as that would be something to be concerned about.

In spite of all this concern with her outward appearance, I am sure, if you question her, you will find she knows well enough that what is inside a person is more important than their looks.

I'M LONELY LIVING IN A NEW COUNTRY

EIGHTEEN months ago we moved here from Poland, and I am so lonely.

I am married with two children, the eldest is at school and youngest goes to playschool each afternoon, then I go to sleep.

All the time I am tired and lack energy to do housework, shopping, everything.

My husband does not understand – he is happy with his new job – but I am going crazy.

Each morning he goes to work early for a lot of hours, so I see him very little.

I have no friends nearby, what can I do?

NM

FIONA SAYS: When you are depressed and unhappy it is very easy to just go to bed and sleep.

I am sure you know that this is a habit you need to break.

You need to find new friends, new interests and more energy to do things.

Your loneliness is, I think, your most serious problem.

Most people find it is easier to make friends when they have small children, so start with the next time you take your child to playschool.

Ask one or two of the other mums if they would like to go for a coffee with you.

If they say no, don't take offence – it may just be that they're busy.

Just say, 'OK, maybe another day'.

See who your child is most friendly with and ask the other child's mother and child round to your house after the playgroup.

You could also talk to your child's teacher and explain how you are feeling – it may be that you could go into the school to help, which would get you out and meeting people.

It may be that some of the other mothers feel lonely too, just like you, so making the first move to get people together might help more than you expect.

As for your husband and his long hours, explain to him how you are feeling.

He may also be able to help you meet new people – perhaps the wives and partners of his colleagues.

MY SCAR MAKES ME SELF-CONSCIOUS

WHEN I was 14, I was badly burned in a fire and have a terrible scar on my face.

I use make up to disguise it, but I am never confident about the way I look and I'm sure people are looking at me.

The make-up is the special kind for people with facial disfigurement and I was taught how to use it when I was quite young, but it doesn't change how I feel inside.

I would love to get into a relationship, but I never let things get too far as I'm afraid, if someone got close enough to kiss me, they'd see how I really look.

I could certainly never face waking up with someone seeing how I look.

PB

FIONA SAYS: We live in a world where, sadly, looks seem to count more than they should.

It's a prejudice that needs to be overcome and, for many years, the charity Changing Faces has been campaigning to do just that.

Aside from their campaign work, they also offer expert counselling, advice, and resources to people affected by disfigurement of any kind.

The object is to help people feel good about themselves and I think you would find them a valuable resource.

Visit changingfaces.org.uk and see for yourself what is on offer.

These can include face-to-face contact sessions at one of their two centres in London and Sheffield or by phone, Skype or by email.

There are people out there who look beyond any facial differences you may have - it's just a case of having the confidence to go out there and find them.

That's where this organisation has helped a great many people and I hope it can help you, too.

HOW CAN I WORK FROM HOME?

LAST year in your column, I think someone had asked you for information on how people can work from home.

I am in my late sixties and would like to be able to make some extra money.

I would really appreciate your help regarding this matter.

KS

FIONA SAYS: If you want to work from home these days, it really helps if you have a computer and know how to use it.

There are opportunities with companies who want you to test their websites, take part in surveys, provide English speaking practice and more.

If you're an outgoing person, you could organise get-togethers to sell on behalf of a company – there are opportunities for all sorts; wine, make-up, gardening products and many more.

If you have a special skill (cake making, dress making and so forth), you could offer to sell these to other people by putting cards in shop windows.

Alternatively, make a home video to demonstrate these skills on YouTube and get paid for the number of times people watch it.

You could possibly consider registering as a child minder or you could become a dog walker or pet sitter.

If your spelling and grammar are good, you might get work as a proof-reader.

Whatever you decide, be careful, because a lot of advertised home-working jobs are a scam – do your research carefully and don't sign up to anything without taking advice first.

There are some very low paid jobs out there – such as "fulfilment" – which can mean sorting things into envelopes and mailing them.

They can sound good, but be careful as these are often 'piece work' – you might get paid per hundred or even per thousand envelopes filled.

Finally, if you have a spare room in your house, you could rent it out.

I hope this is helpful.

Life

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