Q My sister and I have been spending a week timeshare in Spain for many years. We have children the same age and our two families have always gone together every October half term.
However, this year our oldest 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 along anymore. Our daughter is still quite young emotionally and hasn’t really discovered boys, parties or alcohol.
She is always happy to do things with us and gets along well with her sister and younger cousin.
Q My sister and I have been spending a week timeshare in Spain for many years. But this year our oldest daughter, who is 14, says she doesn’t want to go.
My nephew is the opposite. Sometimes he can be very good (fun) company, but he’s often a typical monosyllabic teenager – sullen, scruffy, swearing, rude to my sister and trying to be cool.
My daughter was very upset when her cousin pressured her to try vodka.
I know she has problems with him drinking and smoking. When we went to their house a few months ago, my oldest daughter was very upset because they had gone to a party that got out of hand and where her cousin pressured her to try the vodka. I had to take her in tears.
I think we should forgo the vacation this year, but my sister is upset and says her daughter will be very disappointed if her cousins don’t come. She thinks the two elders may just be ignoring each other. I think she wants my moral support too.
What should we do?
A It’s even more difficult because you’re pulled in different directions. You’re clearly close to your sister, so it must be sad for both of you that your older children have, in this moment, turned out to be chalk and cheese.
I understand that your daughter doesn’t want to go. She is at a fragile and sensitive age and the prospect of spending a vacation with her older cousin is daunting.
You might decide to give it a miss this time and see if things have changed next year. However, there is also a risk that if she does not go, she will feel less able to deal with such problems in the future.
You can ignore it this time and see if things change next year
So, with your husband, ask him if she thinks she can spend time with her sister and her other cousin – if all the adults make sure her older cousin can’t bully her. But make sure you really listen to their needs.
I’m not sure this is an easy vacation for anyone, because your nephew seems difficult. I’m sure your sister thinks he’s struggling and I wonder if her husband feels the same way and is supportive.
Unfortunately, there is a perception that smoking and drinking are “just what kids do” at 15. However, both of these activities are illegal under the age of 18 because they pose serious health risks.
Public health charity Ash warns that the younger a person smokes, the greater the risk of addiction and mortality.
You and your sister can contact youngminds.org.uk or family-action.org.uk for advice on how to help each child and each other.
Does my professional success scare my husband away?
Q I have been married for 12 years to a man who I consider my soul mate. We are both in our 40s and have never had children. Our relationship has always been loving and strong and our sex life fantastic.
However, recently things have calmed down, with my husband saying he was too tired to have sex. I know couples go through less “physical” phases, but that’s not who we are.
The last time we tried, he couldn’t go all the way. I am devastated. Everything changed shortly after I was promoted to a management position at work – I now earn more than my husband.
I asked him if that was what got in the way of sex and he said it wasn’t all about my wonderful career.
I know we should be getting counseling, but I’m shocked to think that’s where we’ve come.
I have been married for 12 years to a man who I consider my soul mate. However, recently things have calmed down, with my husband saying he was too tired to have sex.
A As old-fashioned as it may seem, unfortunately some men still feel very threatened, even emasculated, by the fact that their wife earns more than them.
It’s so unnecessary – and it’s sad for you that he can’t support you and celebrate your success. But yes, you have to grit your teeth and suggest advice, because there is clearly more to it than that.
Maybe he’s unhappy at work and desperately wants to leave, but fears it will reduce him further. He might feel like you’ll stop loving him if he’s not as successful as you. Maybe he has other worries. Either way, he’s unhappy.
Gently explain how much you love him (always start with this) and how happy you have always been with him. Say you’re worried he’s unhappy and you’re anxious and 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_