ASK FIONA: I seem to be always arguing with my mum
Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers her perspective on family dramas, emotional issues and dysfunctional relationships. This week: alcohol, privacy issues and a friendship coming to an end
I'M finding it really hard to get along with my parents these days, especially my mother.
She won't let me have a private life at all and if a friend calls me, she always wants to know who it is and what they want.
If I go out, she wants to know where I've been and who with.
I'm 17, not seven, but if I stand up to her she accuses me of being difficult.
I can't wait to leave home, but, as I'm in the middle of my A-levels, I've nowhere to go.
FIONA SAYS: It's difficult, sometimes, for parents to accept their children are growing up and beginning to exert their independence.
Your mother does sound very insecure and anxious though, and perhaps she needs you to reassure her you won't do anything stupid with dangerous people.
Choose a moment when you are both calm and try to get your mother to talk about what is bothering her.
Don't lose your temper – show her you can be mature and explain that as you are nearly an adult, you feel that you have a right to some privacy.
Try and have a discussion and negotiate for what you want – offer to give her some information that you're comfortable with in return for, say, privacy around phone calls.
It won't be very long before you leave home, but whoever you live with deserves the courtesy of knowing something about your movements.
For the moment, that someone is your parents, so try to keep calm and recognise a lot of their anxiety is concern for your wellbeing.
SHE WON'T STOP GOING ON ABOUT HER NEW JOB
I'VE become very close to my friend for the six years we've known one another.
We see each other most days and often spend our weekends together, but recently she can't stop going on about the new job she's landed.
I've tried to steer conversation around to other things, but it still always comes back to how much she is earning or how wonderful her new company is.
To be honest, I'm sick of hearing about it.
I don't want to lose my temper with her, but she just won't shut up about it.
Please don't think it's because I'm jealous, because I'm really not, as I have a great job myself, but I just don't talk about it all the time.
FIONA SAYS: It sounds like your friend is becoming a bit of a bore, at least as far as her job is concerned.
As she's such a good friend and if you want to retain that friendship, it's worth making the effort to deal with this before it causes too much damage.
Try telling her that, while you're pleased that she enjoys her job so much, you really don't want to keep hearing about it.
If she is offended by what you say, apologise, but say you miss the talks you used to have as she never talks about anything except her job any more.
It is possible that this friendship has run its course – I would hope it hasn't, but it is possible the two of you are growing apart.
Seeing one another most days makes for a very intense relationship and perhaps yours has burnt itself out.
It could be she talks about her job so much because you've exhausted all other topics of conversation.
I'd suggest you both need more people and more activities in your lives as I suspect you've lived in one another's pockets for a bit too long.
AM I AN ALCOHOLIC?
I THINK I may be an alcoholic as, since my girlfriend and I split up, I can't get through a day without drinking.
That happened six months ago and my immediate reaction was to down a bottle of whisky – which made me really sick.
In spite of that, I still have at least four or five pints and a few chasers most days and I know it's having an effect on me and on my health.
I don't feel depressed about our split anymore, I can see we weren't suited, but I still can't stop drinking.
FIONA SAYS: You are drinking way over safe limits and your liver and kidneys will be protesting under the strain.
You're damaging your health and even if you were to cut your drinking by half, you would still be way over the top.
It might not be so bad if you had a few "dry" days each week to give your body a chance to recover, but as you can't seem able to manage that, I suggest you talk to your GP.
Be honest about the amount you drink, when, where and why, as, without the full facts, your doctor can't help you.
You might also like to contact Drinkline, the national alcohol helpline that you can call free and in confidence on 0300 123 1110.
I don't know if you're an alcoholic, but you most definitely have a drink problem and you are right to be concerned.
CAN I LOVE THEM BOTH?
FOR the 15 years we've been married, my husband has spent long periods away from home.
We've both had to adjust to periods when we don't see each other, but we've trusted each other and our relationship has been great.
After a recent party, a good family friend accompanied me home and while I never intended anything to happen, we somehow ended up in bed together.
I feel so guilty, but at the same time, excited, as I'm really attracted to this man and he is to me.
My husband is a good, considerate man and I don't want to do anything that will hurt him, but is it possible to love two men?
FIONA SAYS: It's not impossible, but it's a sure-fire recipe for unhappiness.
I'm not convinced you are, as yet, in love with this other man; you're attracted to him, you're excited by the relationship, but I'd say those were signs of problems within your marriage, not love.
I don't know what your husband does that keeps him away for so long, but while you thought you'd accepted these periods alone, you were clearly missing something.
Your new lover has provided that "something", but is it what you really want?
Perhaps what you need is to put some sparkle or magic back into your marriage, so I'd suggest you contact Relate (www.relate.org.uk) to discuss your feelings.
A counsellor would help you explore these issues to find out what you really want.