‘My stepson is violently angry about our marriage’: Advice column
Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine advises a woman who's worried about her stepson, and another who is worried about leaving her child alone
Q My stepson is seven and visits every other weekend. When I married his father last year, he was clearly upset, but since then things have got so much worse.
He says he hates being with us and goes out of his way to break things in the house.
Last week he got so upset that he smashed his hand through a glass-fronted cabinet.
I can’t do this much longer.
A This child is clearly in pain and in need of help. He's confused and emotional and, at seven years old, may lack the capacity to understand and explain why he feels this way. Instead, he makes his feelings and frustration known by lashing out.
The important thing for you to know is that this is not personal, it's a reaction to the changed circumstances. But your husband must help his son understand that you must be respected.
Both parents should work together and contact Family Lives (familylives.org.uk) which offers a confidential helpline.
Q At what age can I leave my 13-year-old daughter at home alone?
I have recently been persuaded to join a local dance class, which takes place every Thursday evening.
I can't afford a baby-sitter, I'm a single mum and not earning very much. Besides, my daughter thinks she's too old to need a baby sitter anyway.
It's only for a couple of hours and she thinks it's a really good idea for me to get out. She also says that if she has a problem, she can contact me on my mobile.
A The law doesn't specify a minimum age but a parent can be prosecuted for negligence if a child of any age is left in a situation where they are at risk of harm.
It comes down to a question of judgement and taking sensible precautions and this will obviously depend on the age of the child.
Providing she's comfortable with the idea, I see no reason why you shouldn't go to the classes.
It would be good for both of you.