I HAVE now been asked officially if I "almost always" push, slap or hit my spouse during an argument.
And I have been quizzed as to whether I take heroin on a daily basis; have failed to do "what was normally expected" of me because of drinking; and whether I thought my life was a failure.
It's these probing questions, and more, that the parents of 20,000 children involved in the 'Growing Up in Ireland' study have been asked as part of research into how our youngest citizens develop over time.
I know, because my middle daughter is one of 11,000 involved in the infant group who were nine months old when chosen but who are five today, along with another 8,500 nine-year-olds who are now in their early teens.
The work started in 2008 and will not be completed for at least another two years.
Participants are chosen from a list of child benefit recipients, at random. The children are of every nationality, from every educational and professional background and from all parts of the country.
It's important work. Today we learn how parental stress can impact on a child's development, but have previously learnt about obesity problems in nine-year-olds; influences on how children learn; the family and financial circumstances of our youngest and the work and childcare choices mothers of very young babies make.
Three in-depth interviews have already taken place, one with each parent. The interview with the primary caregiver – generally the mother – lasts more than two hours, and about an hour for the father.
The child is weighed and vital measurements taken, before researchers move on to the parents and ask basic questions such as age and relationship with the child, education and employment status, before looking at the baby's habits and routines.
They then move on to a series of statements which you are asked to agree or disagree with, including whether your child is a "major source of stress"; if their behaviour is "embarrassing"; or if having a child has meant having "too few choices".
You are asked to rank the importance of things you do for your children (is playing with your child more important than providing for them?), and who does the routine tasks like putting the baby to bed and reading stories.
BUT you're also asked more fundamental questions, using a confidential questionnaire on a laptop without the official seeing your answers. They include whether you are happy as a parent, or if you would avoid having a child if given the option again. Has it brought you and your partner closer together? How often you and your spouse argue – and that question about the slap.
The information is covered by the Statistics Act, meaning the results and answers you give are confidential. No personal data can be given to other agencies, and you cannot be identified by your answers.
There's a reason for this. The more honest people are, the more evidence the researchers have to work with to help produce reports like today's, which should prompt policymakers to address these fundamental issues which affect the next generation.