Q I have an 11-year-old son who is very immature and over-sensitive for his age. If something doesn't go his way, he breaks down in tears. He'll do this anywhere, even in school, in front of his friends. I'm amazed they don't tease him about it. He is the eldest of four children and honestly, his nine-year-old sister is more hardy than he is. I worry he'll be more of a target next year when he starts secondary school so want to know how to help him before then.
Q We are thinking about getting rid of the TV as our New Year's resolution. We haven't spoken about it with the kids (aged eight, five and three) and I'm not sure how to broach it with them. Should we go cold turkey or will we phase it out? My husband thinks we should phase it out, but I think that's because he just doesn't really want it to go either!
Q My wife and I have separated since the summer and this is the first Christmas that my children won't be with me on Christmas Day. I'm devastated. The youngest is just seven and she was crying when I told her I won't be there for dinner but her mum is determined and there is no changing her mind. How can I get her mum to let me come over, just to see them at least?
Q My 12-year-old son is in first year in secondary school. He has become highly anxious over the last few months and is now refusing to go into school most days and when he does go, I always get a text by lunchtime demanding that I come and pick him up.
There are many Christmas classics. It's A Wonderful Life. Elf. The Santa Clause. John Carpenter's The Thing. Anything that has even the faintest trace of snow, really. But above all of these lies the festive fairytale of Bad Santa. Despite the fact that it contains almost relentless profanity, sex, alcohol abuse and a general grottiness of a Charles Bukowski novel, it contains many of the elements that made It's A Wonderful Life a perennial favourite.
I was chatting to my hairdresser the other day about our Christmas plans. We are both separated mothers and we shared our stories as only those who have walked the same path can do. She explained that she would be spending Christmas Day alone this year.
This time last year, I was eight months pregnant and the absolute antithesis of festive cheer and goodwill. I was huge, sore and exhausted beyond anything I could have imagined. "They're more hassle on the outside than in there," people would remark, referring to my massive bump. I didn't believe it for a second. I was barrelling towards burnout at work, and giving the onslaught of festive parties a wide berth. My partner and I did a half-hearted 'Just Us' Christmas, celebrating our last year as a duo. Ergo, lots of sleep and snogging as though it was all about to be taken away from us (which, in the end, it sort of was).
Is it just me or do you other people find the run-up to Christmas much more enjoyable and gratifying than Christmas Day itself? In this case, I already know the answer, because I asked on Instagram last week, and it seems the majority of you prefer the build-up too, and actually find Christmas Day quite stressful, upsetting or anti-climactic.
Like many women, it took getting pregnant for Caroline Morahan to want a baby. It wasn't exactly that she didn't want to have children. More that she saw having them as something that would happen some time in the future, never in the now.
It's Christmas. Not that pre-Christmas period that starts anywhere between late August and early December, but full-throated, horrible, wonderful Christmas. You can tell this because everyone is sick. I am sick, you are sick, my wife and kids are all sick. In fact, I can't remember the last time I met someone who wasn't profoundly unwell with some sort of bug and/or virus.
Q My teenage son has incredibly smelly feet. I have bought him 100pc-cotton socks and an anti-fungal powder for his shoes, but nothing seems to do the trick. He washes daily - spends hours in the shower - so it isn't a hygiene issue. He doesn't have athlete's foot. Have you any suggestions on what could be causing this and what I could possibly do about it?
Q My husband works away mid-week and is home every weekend. Our baby is just six months old, and he makes strange with his dad every time he comes home. My husband gets very upset about this and it seems like it is only Sunday before we are back fully settled and then he has to go again first thing Monday. I worry about their relationship and wonder should I be doing something about it?
Next year is shaping up to be an epic 12 months for Irish hockey stars and twin sisters Bethany and Serena Barr. Not only will the Lurgan girls be putting their hearts into realising their dream of Olympic glory in Tokyo next summer, but they will be working harder than ever to keep their late sister Charlene's dream alive.
It was 2008 when I moved to Dublin. I doubled the pay-check I'd been getting in Belfast and my husband and I (then boyfriend and girlfriend) moved into a swanky D4 apartment at a not-unreasonable €1,300 a month. Over the next few years we embraced city life with its gigs, theatres, brunches and dinners. I visited art exhibitions, pop-up events and hopped on and off the Dart, never too bothered if it was crowded or a little late. As far as I was concerned, Dublin city life was wonderful.
Q I worry about my eldest boy, age seven. He hates getting praise and doesn't like to be centre of attention. He hid an award from school about being pupil of the week in his class. Anytime I look up lack of confidence in children it's always that they've been given out to a lot; but we are very relaxed parents. It's like he doesn't see any value in himself. He even told me he didn't want presents from Santa this year and it broke my heart a little. What can I do to help him?
The head lice are coming, the head lice are coming! This is the cry across the land, for a note has been sent home from school. By the time we find said note from the frontlines, stuffed at the bottom of a schoolbag, the situation has gone from an outbreak, to an epidemic, to a pandemic. All is lost, we wail!
Q I've just got back from my son's parent-teacher meeting. He's in third year and we'd been happily believing that he was getting on great, but it turns out he isn't handing up homework, often sits day-dreaming in class and his teachers have little confidence in him doing well in the Junior Cert. He started palling with a new crowd this September and I'm now thinking they might be a bad influence on him. How can I get him back on track?
To add to the smorgasbord of parental anxieties - picky eating, bullying, bed-wetting, allergies, vaccinations, nits, starting school, dropping them on their heads - here's a new one: play-date anxiety. Yes, it's a thing. An American thing, but trends travel, so gird yourself.
This year, we saw three multinational firms introduce significant paid paternity leave. Diageo led the charge, announcing 26 weeks fully-paid in May, followed last month by Hewlett Packard Enterprise and Vodafone declaring their intent to offer six months and 16 weeks respectively.
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