African-American-Siblings-Fighting | Photo – FKSG

8 things you can relate to if you are the first child

African-American-Siblings-Fighting | Photo – FKSG
African-American-Siblings-Fighting | Photo – FKSG

From your parents expecting you to always be the responsible one who knows better to having the privilege of bossing around your siblings, below are some things every first child in a family can relate to.

You have to hide your things

Are you sure you had younger siblings if you didn’t have to hide your necessities? Younger ones can be quite the pain in the neck as they are always snooping around your things. From trying to read you diary, go through your chats and text messages to “borrowing” clothes, accessories, and books (or any number of things), younger siblings always felt a sense of entitlement to your stuffs.

You got followed around

As the older sibling, your younger ones look up to you so it is only natural that they are not contented with just borrowing your stuffs without asking, they also wanted your friends. Are you really an older sibling if you haven’t had a little brother or sister tag along with you no matter what you’re doing? Infuriatingly enough, your parents allowed it to happen, and probably sometimes even encouraged it.

The guinea pig child

As the first child of your parents, you were their experiment at learning how to be good parents so inadvertently, they are stricter with you than they are with your younger ones. You got all the tough rules and guidelines to follow. Most parents get less strict with their younger children, and that will always feel incredibly unfair.

The responsible one

With great power comes great responsibility but in your case as the oldest child, it is with being the first comes greater expectations. Your parents always expected you to “know better” than your younger siblings.They took sides with your younger ones during a fight and you are told to grow up and act more mature since you are the older one. You also had to play the role of substitute parent for the times your parents were not around and expected to always set a good example.

The bossy sibling

Another negative side effect of being expected to be the responsible one? Your younger siblings will constantly call you “bossy.” And you know what? Maybe you are! Can anyone really blame you when you were essentially groomed to be that way?

The jealous child

Who can blame you for feeling jealous of your younger ones in their early years. One minute your parents dotted on you and the next minute another child comes along and gets all the love. Every oldest child got at least one year of exclusive love before it became shared

You made them do things for you

One of the perks of being the oldest child is being able to turn your younger siblings into your minions. From tying your shoe laces to fetching you water or food, you made them do things for you that you should ordinarily do for yourself. As they age, this little game stops working, but it sure is fun while it lasts.

You love and protect them no matter what

No matter how annoying or troublesome you younger ones are, you love them anyways. As corny as it sounds, you’re blessed to have each other, and you know it. It doesn’t matter you tell your friends or whoever cares to listen about how much of a pest your siblings can be, you’ll probably bite off their head if they pic a fight with your sibling.

Message of hope for parents with special needs children

A happy family. Photo: The Hechinger Report

The life of parents with special needs children is in itself a metaphor for life. It is full of ups and downs, joy and sorrow, achievement and disappointment. As a mother of a child with Down syndrome, I can tell you that we still have to face the “normal” obstacles of everyday life, like anyone else, but with an increased intensity that an added dimension brings. Throw in a little Covid-19 into the mix and it’s a recipe for disaster. BUT it doesn’t have to be.

In March of this year, as the pandemic made its way, it brought with it a sense of impending doom and uncertainty which was compounded by school closures and the lockdown. Overnight, everything came to a halt. The crucial support we depended on for our daughter’s special education needs were gone. No speech and music therapy to aid in cognition and speech progression, no facilitator to assist in learning and no school environment to aid in gaining appropriate social interaction skills.

A happy family. Photo: The Hechinger Report

I was alarmed as the truth dawned on me. How am I going to do this? I work full time from home, I have two children and a household to manage. Panic ensued and for me, that panic manifests in trying to control everything and having to constantly DO something at all times. This is not good, as it will inevitably lead to burnout.

Then came the pressure of school sending mixed messages and demand for school fees, just to add salt to an ever-growing wound. With all of these, it is easy to see how we can be consumed by worry, doubt, fear and anxiety. It can completely take over us as we envision a bleak future for our children. But in reality where does this lead? And if you think about it, have we ever really been in control? Are we able to ensure our future by sheer will? Can we 100% say that we will be here tomorrow? We cannot and never have been able to. It’s all been an illusion we have constructed.

OK, ok, let me stop there. The title of this article is about hope and that’s enough doom and gloom, but it sets the stage for something “special” parent needs to have in their armoury and that is PERSPECTIVE.

The tumultuous journey of raising a child with special needs has prepared us somewhat for a positive and hopeful attitude during these uncertain times. When our daughter from the age of four and a half months to two and a half years old was fighting for her life, we understood that tomorrow is promised to no one. We learned to enjoy the smallest things about today, to hug deeply and cherish everything.

On a general note, parents, for the most part, don’t see themselves as teachers. We see that role as separate and for someone else. As “special” parents we don’t see ourselves as teachers, therapists, doctors and the like. We are just clueless parents. And it is about time to change that perspective. Through the experiences we’ve had in the past 4 years, I have realized that no one knows better than the parents. I seek advice and study the professionals, of course, but at the end of the day if your child has, for example, two hours of speech therapy a week with a speech and language pathologist, what happens the rest of the time? If you think about it the rest of the time, your child is learning from YOU! That makes you the main go-to, the main therapist, and the main specialist.

So what can we do as parents of special needs children during this time? I always say before you start thinking of the notions of “school” and therapy, what is the environment like in your home?

All children need a home that is nurturing and in which they feel truly loved. When a child feels loved, nurtured and knows they matter, they are more engaged and willing to participate as well as contribute to the home and wider society at large given the opportunity. For children with special needs, learning difficulties and delays, keying into that engagement opens the door to learning.

So you have a home environment of love and nurturing. Next is to get organised and make a schedule. For everyone’s sanity, a schedule is a must. Why? Having a routine during a period of anxiety and uncertainty helps with boosting mental health as it gives focus and direction.

The schedule will depend on a number of factors the biggest being:
WORK – Understand YOUR schedule and responsibilities to your employer/business if you are still working, as you will still need to deliver that AND work with your child with special education needs.
SUPPORT – The more support you have the more time can be spent focusing on schooling and supportive therapy with your child.
Note there is no one size fits all here or a wrong or right way to approach this. Again, the key is to keep good mental and physical health during this time. So families need to do what is right for them specifically.

And PLEASE give yourself a break! Cut yourself some slack. Your children will be fine. Most important is that they feel loved and nurtured.

The ‘cradle Catholic’ promoting family planning in Ghana

“I think God has a sense of humor,” Dr. Leticia Adelaide Appiah said of her advocacy of family planning. “To let a Catholic do this is bizarre.” Credit…Francis Kokoroko for The New York Times

By Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu

ACCRA, Ghana — On the last Sunday before Lent, Dr. Leticia Adelaide Appiah was up early and the first to be ready for Mass in her home, a government bungalow in the affluent Cantonments neighborhood of Accra, the capital of Ghana.

Christ the King Catholic Church, opposite Ghana’s presidential palace, is a six-minute drive away, and in the days before coronavirus restrictions caused churches to shut, she was also a regular at weekday Masses.

Dr. Appiah’s 77-year-old mother, Susanna Kankam, said of her daughter: “She is a cradle Catholic. We baptized her two weeks after she was born.”

Catholicism is a central part of Dr. Appiah’s identity, yet in her line of work, she is actively defying one of the Vatican’s longstanding doctrines, which “condemns as always unlawful the use of means which directly prevent conception.”

In her position as the executive director of the National Population Council in Ghana, she is the constitutionally-mandated, independent, public health official responsible for advising the government on all matters of population.

Concerned that out-of-control population growth will curb her country’s development, the self-described “terrible introvert” has become Ghana’s advocate in chief for contraceptive use and family planning since her appointment in 2016.

Managing fertility is a serious issue in Ghana, where the population has soared to about 30 million, from around 12 million in 1984, and where only 20 percent of reproductive-age women or their partners use a modern family-planning method.

In light of that, the Roman Catholic Church’s recommendation that couples practice natural family planning, in which they have sexual intercourse only when the woman is not ovulating, does not sit well with Dr. Appiah.

“The problem with the Catholic faith is that because we have named the product contraception, we think that it is against life and we think that it causes abortion,” Dr. Appiah, 55, said at an after-Mass lunch with friends.

Listening to Dr. Appiah speak about the importance of avoiding teenage pregnancy, in Adumasa, southern Ghana, in February. In Ghana, 14 percent of adolescent girls are mothers or pregnant.
Listening to Dr. Appiah speak about the importance of avoiding teenage pregnancy, in Adumasa, southern Ghana, in February. In Ghana, 14 percent of adolescent girls are mothers or pregnant.Credit…Francis Kokoroko for The New York Times

For that stance, she has been described as the “Antichrist” by one priest, she said, and “had some people saying that ‘She has no children, so she is envious of us.’”

In fact, Dr. Appiah has three daughters, Suzzie Owiredua Aidoo, 31; Tracy Asomani Wiafe, 24; and Sharon Adelaide Asomani Wiafe, 21. (She is reticent about her family life, saying only that she is currently married, but not to the father of her children.)

The Catholic Church has a large footprint in Ghana, including in education and in medical services. In those spaces, she “wouldn’t even dare to talk about the other side of it,” meaning artificial contraception, said the Rev. Lazarus Anondee, secretary general of the Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference, adding that she, “will speak the Catholic way.”

But Dr. Appiah says she believes that her advocacy work has divine backing, too. “I think God has a sense of humor,” she said with a chuckle. “To let a Catholic do this is bizarre.”

She acknowledges that the criticisms “will hit you a little, you’d be a bit low but then you go for Mass in the morning, and you talk to God and ask Him: ‘Do you really want me to do this?’”

In fact, Dr. Appiah herself is uneasy about the word contraception. It puts a lot of people off, she said, adding that she preferred “planception.”

Babies “are not byproducts of entertainment, they are supposed to be planned for,” she said, reflecting her belief that, in addition to health matters, family planning was also an important aspect of women’s economic empowerment.

Dr. Appiah has proposed free family planning services and, despite fierce opposition, limiting families to three children. 
Dr. Appiah has proposed free family planning services and, despite fierce opposition, limiting families to three children. Credit…Francis Kokoroko for The New York Times

Dr. Appiah was born in Accra in 1964, to royalty on both sides of the family. Her father was an important chief, called a paramount chief, in eastern Ghana, while her mother, who became an elementary-school principal, is a member of a royal family in a different part of the country.

From a young age, she had a good idea of what she would do in the future, she said. She did well in school, she recalled, “and if you were a woman, then, of course, it is medicine.”

But her academic success was not always celebrated. As a teenager, she had an awakening when she transferred from a girls’ school to the prestigious coed Achimota School to complete her secondary education.

“If you happen to beat the boys in math and physics and get the prizes, then you become a ‘witch,’” she said. “Men don’t take it lightly when women are excelling.”

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She overcame that, however, to earn a scholarship to study medicine in what was then the Soviet Union. When she arrived in Donetsk, in eastern Ukraine, in 1985, Mikhail S. Gorbachev was newly in place as the Soviet leader and she said she still fondly remembered his television broadcasts about perestroika, the political and economic reforms that were aimed at revamping the sluggish economy.

On hospital rounds in Ukraine, the happiest place was the labor ward, she said. “It was flowers; it was laughter; it was joy,” she recalled. “You could see that these babies were surrounded by love and happiness.”

She returned home in 1993 with the idea of training as a gynecologist, but arriving in Ghana, she said she experienced “the rudest shock of my life.”

The maternity wards in Ghana bore little resemblance to those in Ukraine. “Babies were born and their fathers wouldn’t even come,” she said. “They were abandoned, and the babies would come back months after delivery, malnourished.”

Dr. Appiah after a church service in Accra. Her advocacy of family planning, including artificial contraception, has brought her into conflict with the Roman Catholic Church.
Dr. Appiah after a church service in Accra. Her advocacy of family planning, including artificial contraception, has brought her into conflict with the Roman Catholic Church.Credit…Francis Kokoroko for The New York Times

The stark differences went beyond the wards. The fertility rate in Ghana was at least several times higher than the approximately 1.5 births for the average Ukrainian woman in the 1990s.

Dr. Appiah’s mother had two daughters with her father, but as a tribal chief, her father had many more children with his seven other wives.

“We were so many, so you don’t even feel like royalty,” she said with a belly laugh. “My father was very busy populating the country.”

The jolt of returning to Ghana inspired her to change her specialization from gynecology to public health.

She obtained a master’s degree in public health in 2003 and rose through the ranks to become the health director of a large district of Accra. She completed a doctorate in 2018 in public health, conducting research into long-acting reversible contraceptives.

Since Dr. Appiah assumed her current post, she has proposed that free family planning services be included in the state’s health insurance package and provided to new mothers before they are discharged from the hospital. Those measures have yet to be approved, but a trial of free family planning services is underway in six districts in Ghana.

But some of her other proposals have not been received as well, such as limiting couples to three children and prohibiting benefits like free public education for any additional children.

“The government should pay only for up to three children because after three, maternal mortality increases,” she said. “The subsequent ones, the people pay full cost recovery.” She emphasized that this policy should be adopted only after free family planning had been made available to everyone.

The plan has been met with outrage in some quarters. “The proposal is as impractical as it is fascist,” said Nii Moi Thompson, the former director general of the National Development Planning Commission of Ghana. “Family planning is good, for those who need it, but it shouldn’t be misused for such an abominable agenda.”

Dr. Appiah, front right, with her daughters, from left: Sharon Adelaide Asomani Wiafe, Tracy Asomani Wiafe and Suzzie Owiredua Aidoo, at Dr. Appiah’s home in Cantonments, Accra.
Dr. Appiah, front right, with her daughters, from left: Sharon Adelaide Asomani Wiafe, Tracy Asomani Wiafe and Suzzie Owiredua Aidoo, at Dr. Appiah’s home in Cantonments, Accra.Credit…Francis Kokoroko for The New York Times

But perhaps Dr. Appiah’s greatest challenge has been the introduction of a program called Comprehensive Sexuality Education in Ghana’s schools. It was set to begin last fall until a misinformation campaign with links to American evangelical groups contributed to the government’s withdrawing it.

The president of the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council, the Rev. Paul Yaw Frimpong-Manso, described the curriculum as “comprehensive satanic engagement” that would introduce school children to homosexuality. In Ghana, homosexuality is illegal.

The program would have introduced concepts like consent and gender equality, while putting a greater focus on safe sex and contraceptive use rather than abstinence in a bid to reduce the high teenage motherhood rate. In Ghana, 14 percent of adolescent women are already mothers or pregnant with their first child.

So far, the Catholic Church has not reprimanded Dr. Appiah, but that may change when she meets with bishops after coronavirus restrictions on gatherings are lifted.

She waved away the possibility that she could be excommunicated. “They can’t excommunicate me because I am not going anywhere,” she says. “I was born as a Catholic and I will die as a Catholic.”

10 amazing ideas for online family activities

Get the kids cooking with cook-along sessions from well-known restaurants and chefs. Photograph: Jovo Jovanovic/Stocksy United

There are few things as wonderful as quality time with your little angels, but there really is an awful lot of it about at the moment, isn’t there? Happily, we’ve come up with plenty of ideas to help you fill this time, and keep it fun too. So explore everything your broadband can deliver, and let the adventures begin …

1. Sing with the stars
Whether you like to sing in glorious harmony or are more into belting out chart favourites at the top of your voice, there’s a digital choir to suit you. The Sofa Singersbring people together via Zoom to sing classics by artists from Bob Marley to Spandau Ballet. Numbers are limited, but the sessions are live streamed on YouTube so you can join in regardless. Lifefulness Live takes the choir idea and adds in celebs – José González and Rufus Hound are two guest performers who’ve taken part. Singalongs run every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and are organised around a lovely ethos: “To feel connected when we’re being kept apart.”

2. Hand over storytime to Michelle Obama
If you’re going to deputise storytime, you may as well hand over to someone almost as charismatic as you. Check out the former first lady reading The Gruffalo and There’s a Dragon in Your Book on the PBS Kids’ YouTube channel. Or, for more UK-centric versions, there’s Floella Benjamin’s YouTube channel where she tells a mixture of her own and classic stories. The kids’ publisher Puffin is also doing daily weekday storytimes. On Mondays and Fridays there are picture book reads and draw-alongs for the under fives, with the other days aimed at kids aged six and up.

3. Take your board games digital
Family board games such as Ticket to Ride (eight and over) and Love Letter (10 and over) can be played online via the gaming platform Steam or using phone/tablet apps. For gaming accompanied by riotous laughter, Drawful 2 is drawing-based fun for all the family, with points handed out for guessing what others are sketching. If you screen-share via Zoom you can play with family and friends locked down elsewhere.

4. Laugh with Alex Horne and Greg Davies
Channel 4’s comedy panel show Taskmaster and its madcap creative challenges have gone digital since lockdown started. Throughout the week, host Alex Horne sets tasks on Twitter for families to complete by making 20-second videos. Think “Re-enact a momentous moment from history” or “Make and demonstrate the best method of transport in your home”. The very best are compiled into a Greg Davies-helmed video that’s posted on YouTube. Be warned, the bar is high.

5. Get your kids to make something V&A-worthy
Twitter art clubs have become a thing since lockdown started. The Great British Bake Off host Noel Fielding is retweeting kids’ pictures every Saturday between 3pm and 5pm, and the the V&A museum is running design-based challenges on Wednesdays aimed at seven- to 11-year-olds. It’s called #LetsMakeWednesdays. Or you can download brilliant (and free) activity packs featuring contributions from British artists including Antony Gormley, Grayson Perry and Gillian Wearing. Head to Art is Where the Home is to get started.

6. Take a virtual zoo tour
A little animal magic is always good for the soul, so to see how everything from pandas to penguins are faring during lockdown check out live webcams at Dublin Zooand Edinburgh Zoo. Chester Zoo is really pushing the boat out with occasional live-streamed Virtual Zoo Days. If you miss one, you can catch up with all the action on its YouTube channel. Chester also has approximately 100 activities on its site for animal-loving kids to try out.Advertisement

7. Have the kids sort dinner
May as well get the kids to help out with feeding everyone while they have time on their hands at home. There’s a huge choice of kid-friendly videos from 14-year-old Aussie chef Charli on Charli’s Crafty Kitchen. Watermelon lollies and rainbow cookies seem a particular favourite. BBC Food, too, has plenty of treats for kids to make, from banana pancakes to rainbow pizza. If you’re quick off the mark, each weekday Delish is running an Instagram Live cook-along for kids. It’s available for 24 hours if you can’t join in real time. For something more adventurous, you could give your older children a hand and help recreate their favourite restaurant dishes. Wagamama and Nando’sare both running cook-along sessions showing how to make the dishes customers are missing most. Bon appetit.

8. Send your children to Hogwarts
If your children need introducing to the world of Harry Potter (surely not?), Audible has just made the first book free to listen to. For those who are already hooked, the new official Wizarding World website offers hundreds of magical Harry Potter activities – for zero pence. Think quidditch quizzes, a guide to making Ravenclaw shoelaces and Q&As with the films’ stars. There’s a slightly more cerebral take for older kids at the British Library’s Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibition. In the words of JK Rowling: “That’s what Hermione does. When in doubt, go to the library.”

9. Dive into high culture
There are child-friendly classical music clips online from the Seattle Symphonyorchestra, while the Royal Opera House has a series of challenges to inspire creativity in kids. To put that newfound love of high culture into practice try out the daily Facebook music lessons from the Benedetti Foundation. Take a look, too, at Myleene’s Music Klass – the clue on who’s leading the fun is in the name.

10. Get away from it all
You can still take your kids on holiday: you just need broadband. The family can head to St Lucia thanks to its tourist team’s live videos on Instagram, or if you’re really adventurous types, how about joining a virtual trek up Everest. Not sure where your fancy takes you? Go globe-trotting from the comfort of your home on Skyline Webcams. Rome! Madrid! Easter Island! The world is your oyster.

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Also read

Megebe Temesgen (L) is grateful to Shasitu Nigusse for keeping her promise

‘My neighbour rented out my home for 20 years’

When Ethiopian and Eritrea went to war over a border town more than 20 years ago, Ethiopian people living in Eritrea were forced to leave and the same was true for Eritreans in Ethiopia.

That was also Megebe Temesgen’s bitter reality.

As an Eritrean living in northern Ethiopia, she had no choice but to leave her home and friends behind.

But one of her neighbours, Shasitu Nigusse, helped out in her hour of need.

Looking back, Ms Megebe told BBC News Amharic that Ms Shasitu was then the only person in her life who could safeguard her home in Gondar and her belongings inside it.


Ms Shashitu rented out the house to tenants and collected rent payment on behalf of Ms Megebe for the next 20 years while was away.

She even stood in for Ms Megebe when local administration officers summoned her on matters regarding the house.

Ms Megebe finally returned home to Gondar in 2018, when Ethiopia and Eritrea made peace and the borders were opened.

Ms Megebe says she’s back at her home in Gondar to stay

She told the BBC she was touched that her neighbour held true to that promise made all those years ago.

“I’ll live here for the rest of my life,” she said.

Why teenagers reject parents’ solutions

Parents of adolescents are often confronted by a puzzling sequence of events. First, teenagers bring us their problems; second, we earnestly offer suggestions and solutions; and third, teenagers dismiss our ideas as irritating, irrelevant or both.

These moments feel ripe for connection. Why do they so often turn sour? Almost always, it’s because we’re not giving teenagers what they’re really looking for. Consciously or not, here’s what they most likely want.

Adolescents, just like adults, may find the best relief from simply articulating their worries and concerns. Indeed, it’s an aphorism among psychologists that most problems feel better when they’re on the outside rather than on the inside, and this holds true whether the difficulties are big or small.

When teenagers bring problems our way, it’s best to start by assuming that they aren’t inviting suggestions, or at least are not inviting them yet. So let them vent.


“I’ll talk to my parents as a sounding board,” says 18-year-old Kathleen Deedy of Mission Hills, Kan., “especially if it’s not enough of an issue for me to want to do something about it. I just want to get it off my chest.”

Adolescents may also share what’s on their minds as a way to spill their jumbled thoughts on the table, where they can survey and perhaps organize them. According to 15-year-old Isla Steven-Schneider of Emerald Hills, Calif., “to list the problem, to put it into words, that helps a lot.” Adults can help create the space teenagers need to do this, so long as we remember to listen without interrupting and hold back from adding our own thoughts to the pile.

Much of what bothers teenagers cannot be solved. We can’t fix their broken hearts, prevent their social dramas, or do anything about the fact that they have three huge tests scheduled for the same day. But having a problem is not nearly so bad as feeling utterly alone with it.

Teenagers often have difficulties they feel like sharing, but not with their friends. At these times, they may come to us, but looking only for empathy, not solutions. Offering a sincere, “Oh man, that stinks,” or “You have every right to be upset,” lets them know that we are willing to keep them company in their distress.

To further express our solidarity we might ask, “Do you want me to stay nearby, or would it help to have some time alone?” or “Is there anything I can do that won’t make things feel worse?” These questions send the powerful message that we are not put off by the teenager’s distress and will stick with them, even when nothing can be done.


As hard as it is for parents to stop ourselves, rushing in with suggestions carries the risk that you’ll be communicating the idea, “You can’t fix this, but I can.” This might strike our teenagers as a vote of no confidence when they are mainly seeking our reassurance that they can handle whatever life throws at them.

Instead of proposing solutions, we might bolster adolescents as they sort things out. Saying, “I’ve seen you get through things like this before” or “This is tough, but you are too” can effectively loan teenagers a bit of perspective and confidence when their own feels shaken.

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Even teenagers who have already addressed a problem may still seek our reassurance. Kathleen said she sometimes tells her parents “about a situation and what I did to solve it” in order to get validation that she made the right choice. When this happens, she says she’s “not really looking for their solution, just checking that they think I did the right thing with my limited problem-solving experience.”


Adolescents often feel vulnerable, perhaps especially so when they open up to adults about their jams and scrapes. In these moments, well-intentioned guidance can land like criticism, and lectures or I-told-you-sos — however warranted — might feel like outright attacks. Even if you are itching to point out that studying for the chemistry test last weekend instead of going to a basketball game would have prevented the problem altogether, it’s probably best to save that conversation for another time.

More often than not, offering our teenagers an ear, empathy and encouragement gives them what they came for. But if after that your adolescent is still seeking a resolution, some advice might (at last!) be welcome. Start by asking if your teenager wants help solving the problem. If you get a yes, divide the issue into categories: what can be changed and what cannot.


For the first type, focus on the needs your teenager identifies and work together to brainstorm solutions. For the second type, help them come to terms with the things they cannot control.

Joshua Siegel, a 16-year-old from Houston, lost all of his free time when the cross-country season landed on top of his already busy schedule. “I was completely overwhelmed with cross-country and band and class, but my parents understood that quitting the team wasn’t something I wanted to do.”

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Instead, Joshua’s parents agreed to help him pack an abundance of food to take to school each day. This opened up time during his lunch period and significantly reduced his stress. They did, however, all have to accept that he would need to skimp on sleep to do homework until the season ended.

“I’m happy if I have sleep and food,” Joshua said. “When I couldn’t get enough sleep during cross-country, having my parents support my basic need for food turned out to be very valuable.”


Above all, aim to solve the problem with, not for, your teenager. However inspired we might think our advice to be, it’s best to hold it back until we’ve heard our teenagers out. “When adults offer up a solution too quickly,” notes Isla, the California 15-year-old, “it feels like they’re not really listening or understanding what I’m going through.” And it often turns out that listening and understanding is all that teenagers want or need.

Five ways to stay healthy when breastfeeding

Getting enough rest, eating well and being aware of your mental health are all important when feeding your baby.

It’s important to watch your posture when breastfeeding. Photograph: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Eat well

A good diet is particularly important when breastfeeding. “You’re fuelling yourself to fuel a baby,” says Jane Moffett, a breastfeeding counsellor with the National Childbirth Trust (NCT). “Eat a varied, balanced diet,” she says . “If you’re vegan, think about calcium-fortified foods.” Wholegrains, protein and vegetables help to regulate blood sugar and may reduce your cravings for high-fat and high-sugar foods. But, with breastfeeding burning about 300 calories a day, this is not the time to cut calories. “As you’ll be feeding through the night as well as the day, it may be an idea to take a tuck box to bed,” says Moffett.

Take care of your emotional and mental health

Breastfeeding, like all elements of early parenting, may be different from what you expected. You may feel tired, frustrated, confused or helpless. According to research by the NCT in 2017, half of mothers experienced mental health problems at some time during pregnancy or within the first year of their child’s birth. If you feel in need of support, ask your GP, midwife or health visitor about breastfeeding clinics, drop in sessions and support groups. Help may be available locally but, if not, there are several national helplines in the UK. Check the NHS website for details.


Get enough rest

The pressure to relax can feel, ironically, rather stressful when your schedule is being dictated by a small baby. So, instead of telling yourself to sleep whenever the baby does, simply try to do things that make you happy. “Get rest,” advises Tamsin English, a baby feeding supporter based in east London. “It doesn’t have to be sleep – it could just be lying on the sofa, watching TV, or listening to music. Anything that helps you feel less frazzled.”

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Be breast aware

While breastfeeding, take the time to look at your breasts in the mirror, and check them regularly for signs of tenderness. “If you start to feel fluey, have a red area on one of your breasts, or if your breasts feel painful, tell your doctor, midwife or health visitor,” says Moffett. These can be the early signs of mastitis, a painful condition caused by a buildup of milk in the breast. If you suspect mastitis may be coming on, the NHS recommends massaging the affected area in a warm shower, continuing to breastfeed, trying different positions to stimulate the blocked area and maybe starting your baby feeding on the affected breast to try to drain any blockages.


Look after your back

Breastfeeding can cause aches and pains, particularly if you don’t watch your posture. There are different breastfeeding positions that may suit parent and baby – from the rugby hold to the cradle hold, from lying flat to lying on your side, or even the jazzy sounding “koala” position. The Medela website has useful pictures and notes of several of these positions, or you can ask to be shown them at breastfeeding drop-ins, which are usually run by local health services.

Private Lives Podcast: My husband and I live as friends – not lovers. What can I do?

We had a healthy sex life, but as soon as we tied the knot it stopped. We have only had sex three times this year and I worry that this is more than a phase.


I married my husband almost four years ago. Until then, we had a healthy sex life, but it switched off overnight. I put it down to me (an English woman) marrying a Sikh man and moving in with his rather traditionalmother. But although we now have our own home, we still rarely have sex (we have managed maybe three times this year). I love my husband, but feelas if we are two friends living together. I have addressed this with himmany times, but he refuses to see it as a problem. He says we just need more time, but I worry that this is more than a phase.

 When leaving a message on this page, please be sensitive to the fact that you are responding to a real person in the grip of a real-life dilemma, who wrote to Private Lives asking for help, and may well view your comments here. Please consider especially how your words or the tone of your message could be perceived by someone in this situation, and be aware that comments that appear to be disruptive or disrespectful to the individual concerned will be removed.

 If you would like fellow readers to respond to a problem of yours, send us an outline of the situation of about 150 words. For advice from readers on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns.

 All correspondence should reach us by Wednesday morning. Email:

Can I Breastfeed in It? A Facebook group for new mothers: the friendliest place on the internet

From milk-proof vest tops to bridesmaid outfits, members of an online community are helping each other to find clothes that both look great and are easy to feed a baby in.


There are things in life you can only discover for yourself and things other people could have told you if only you had asked. Sorting between these two categories is the odd genius, such as Natalie Halman. Three years ago, when she was 27, she launched the Facebook page Can I Breastfeed in It? Almost instantly, 1,000 women were showering each other with suggestions for high-street clothes you could gracefully get in and out of – playsuits, wrap dresses, deceptively simple vest tops – in order to breastfeed. Death to the public feed is a top you have to pull up, rather than pull down, thus exposing the rest of your body.

This is a painful discovery to make on your own in public. Plus, you have just spent nine months pregnant and you wouldn’t mind looking slightly nice every now and then. “Suddenly you need to account for feeding access, how it fits on your new post-baby body and whether the material will hide baby-inflicted stains,” says Halman. “All that, alongside retaining a style that makes you feel like ‘you’, is not an easy task.”

Even though a decade has passed since I last tried to feed another human with my body, it is compulsive reading, not so much for its inventive quest for more imaginative jersey knits (front-loading buttons are good, but stretch is better) as for the vignettes presented to the group – “Help, I’m going to be a bridesmaid in six weeks, still breastfeeding my one-year-old, but one of the other bridesmaids is seven months pregnant and doesn’t want to look fat, what can we wear that will suit both of us?” – hosed with helpfulness from across the country as women getdown to the brass tacks of checking stock at the relevant Sainsbury’s for one another. It is a bit like the earliest days of Mumsnet.

It now has 60,000 members, which, given that 800,000 babies are born a year and 34% of mothers breastfeed for the first six months, is a significant proportion of the whole community. “This has happened totally organically,” says Halman. “The unification of breastfeeders on Facebook is quite incredible. Due to the lack of proper breastfeeding support provided by councils, we have been forced to come together to support each other through what is, for many, one of the most challenging times in our lives.”

Most importantly, the hegemonic shift they want to instill is that breastfeeding-friendly does not have to mean nursing wear. Feeling consigned to anything prefixed “nursing”, even when you are, does not work for anyone.

COVER PHOTO: The Facebook page Can I Breastfeed in It? exudes helpfulness across the country. Photo: Getty Images/Image Source

No more blanket terms … the possibilities for today’s theybies seem endless

Don’t call me baby: the birth of the gender-neutral ‘theyby’

Theybe is the hip new thing for parents who want to bring up their offspring in gender-neutral fashion. Bring on the theycare.

No more blanket terms … the possibilities for today’s theybies seem endless
No more blanket terms … the possibilities for today’s theybies seem endless. Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Babies are so passe, even royal ones. The hip new thing to have is a “theyby”, according to a trend spotted by New York magazine that sees parents bringing up their offspring in a gender-neutral fashion.

There was of course nothing gender-specific about the “ba-“ part of “baby”, which is already a diminutive form of the original English word “babe”. The Oxford English Dictionary says that its origin is probably onomatopoeic – two syllables of “ba”, which is a typical “early infantile vocalisation”. So while a baby can call itself a baba, even if by accident, it will take much longer to pronounce itself a “theyby”.

There was of course nothing gender-specific about the ‘ba-‘ part of ‘baby’

So “theyby” here points to the desired attitude of others, rather than removing any bias from the traditional description of the object in question. (It is often unimportant whether such bias really existed anyway: replacing “mankind” with “humankind” hurts no one.)

Meanwhile, the possibilities for today’s theybies seem endless. If they need looking after they can go to theycare. In time they will even eat gender-neutral smoked-pork slices (theycon) on a Saturday morning while reading a language column in a theyper.

SOURCE: The Guardian, UK

"I don't know why I enjoy making love to my daughter"

“I don’t know why I enjoy making love to my daughter”

A middle aged man, Kenneth Abuya, who was arrested for allegedly defiling and impregnating his 10-year-old daughter has said he did not know why he enjoyed the act.

The accused, who was arrested by policemen at the Gender Unit of the Lagos State Command Headquarters, Ikeja, was said to have been having canal knowledge of his daughter for several years before he allegedly impregnated her in 2017.

During interrogation, he allegedly confessed to the police that he loved his daughter so much and was never irritated when he was having sex with her.

He was said to have initially denied the allegation before the victim was brought before him.

Police sources said the victim was taken to hospital for general tests, and it was discovered that she was pregnant.

“The bubble burst when the victim told the police that her father, who she accused having sexual intercourse with her severally, was the owner of the pregnancy,” the source said.

The suspect was thereafter charged before an Ikeja magistrate’s court for defilement and impregnating his daughter but he pleaded not guilty.

The presiding magistrate, Mrs. B.O. Osunsanmi, granted him bail in the sum of N500,000 with two sureties in like sum. The court also ordered the prosecutor to duplicate the case file and send a copy to the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) for advice.

The matter was thereafter adjourned till May 14, 2018.

SOURCE: Daily Trust

Is sex the answer to relationship woes?

Is sex the answer to relationship woes?

How does it make you feel when your partner is cold and distant? Or when they’re critical and prickly? Does it make you want to rip their clothes off, order in a vat of whipped cream and install a chandelier to swing from? No? Well there’s your problem – according, at least, to Michele Weiner-Davis, the marriage-guidance counsellor whose Ted talk explaining her unconventional advice to warring couples has been viewed almost 3.5 million times online.

Is sex the answer to relationship woes?
‘Just Do It. Your partner will be grateful, happier and therefore nicer, too,’ says Michele Weiner-Davis. Illustration: Andrea De Santis/Observer

Her advice couldn’t be simpler: shag. Do it even if you don’t want to, do it especially if you don’t want to and, most important of all, do it frequently whether you want to or not. To make it even clearer, she’s borrowed one of the most famous advertising slogans of recent times: Just Do It. “Your partner will be grateful, happier and therefore nicer, too,” she explains from her clinic in Colorado. “It’s a win-win situation for both of you!”

Weiner-Davis’s self-confessed “zealotry” for marriage has its roots in the moment her mother blew her teenage world apart by announcing that her seemingly perfect marriage had been a sham for its 23-year duration. She was 16 at the time, and says she wasn’t the only one who didn’t recover from the bombshell: her mother never remarried and her two sons rarely speak to her.

If couples put the work in, they can fall back in love

The experience, says Weiner-Davis – who states that her greatest achievement is her own 40-year marriage – was transformative. She became a staunch believer in the fact that most divorces can be prevented; that the relief of a post-divorce life is temporary but the pain of divorce is permanent; and that if couples put enough work into staying together, they can fall back in love and live happily ever after.

Over the years, Weiner-Davis has honed her message. She’s now stripped it back to what she believes is the essence of a successful marriage. Gone is any therapeutic consideration of a couple’s history; of their emotional travails; of cause and consequence. Now she is entirely one-track minded: no matter how appalling the state of a marriage, she believes that kind, generous and frequent sex can bring it back from the teetering edge of collapse.

Her realisation was hard-won. “For decades, I was in the trenches with warring couples,” she says. “But there were times when I was not too effective. I realised that there was a pattern to the times I’d failed. There was always one spouse desperately hoping for more touch and because that was not happening, they were not investing themselves in the relationship in other ways.”

Weiner-Davis stopped focussing on the couples’ difficulties from an emotional angle and addressed them exclusively as sexual problems. that when the so-called “low-desire” partner – who is, she is at pains to emphasise, just as likely to be a man or a woman – was encouraged to have sex they didn’t particularly want, not only did they end up enjoying themselves but the high-desire partner became a much nicer person to be around.

There is always one spouse desperately hoping for more touch

“I heard the same story from my clients so often that I did some research,” she said, “and found several different sex researchers who confirmed what I was finding: that for millions of people, they have to be physically stimulated before they feel desire.”

Armed with this new theory, Weiner-Davis began encouraging her low-desire clients to be receptive to the sexual advances of their high-desire spouse, even if they weren’t feeling up for it. “I found that unless there was something a lot more complicated going on,” she insists, “there were usually substantial relationship benefits to making love with your high-desire partner.”

She rejects any suggestion that she’s advocating a sexually subservient, anti-feminist, “lie back and think of England” approach. In fact, she says this is the embodiment of female empowerment.

“It’s not just telling women to spread their legs,” she insists. “This is not just about sex. For a high-desire spouse, sex isn’t usually about the orgasm: it’s about someone wanting to feel that their partner desires and wants them. I’m hoping that women will feel empowered that they are getting their own needs met through understanding their partner.”

No still means no, she says. “But it helps to not just say no. Instead, explain why you don’t want to make love, suggest a later date and ask whether there’s something you can do for your spouse right now instead. “But here’s the deal,” she adds: “There had better be a whole more Yes’s or Later’s than No’s because if the No’s win, it leads to the problems I have been talking about.”

Weiner-Davis points out that while it’s commonly accepted that couples should make all their important family decisions together, when it comes to sex, who ever has the lower sex drive makes a unilateral choice for them both. And, just to rub salt in the wound, she adds, the disenfranchised, high-desire one is expected to stay monogamous. No wonder, she says, they get cross.

I mention Weiner-Davis’s theory to some female friends of mine. The overriding response is: “Oh God, not another thing for my To Do list!” Weiner-Davis is quick to condemn this response. “Imagine if, when a woman said she wanted to have more intimate conversations or a date night, her husband said: “It’s just one more thing on my To Do list!” For a high-desire spouse who experiences love through touch instead of quality time, it’s exactly the same impact. I’ve had grown men crying in my office, crying about the sense of rejection they feel from their low-desire wives.”

I then regale her with the experience of a friend whose husband had started his own business which quickly went catastrophically wrong. The family finances were in peril and he couldn’t cope. His wife stepped in. Alongside her own job and while juggling the childcare, she worked late into the night for weeks to stabilise their security. During this time, she was scrupulous in not blaming her husband, either explicitly or implicitly.

With crisis narrowly averted, the stressed and sleep-deprived wife realised her husband was being snippy and sulky. When she asked what was wrong, he exclaimed: “We haven’t had sex for weeks!” Surely, I ask Weiner-Davis, this shows that not all demands for sex should be met with her Just Do It ethos.

Not at all, she says. “This woman knew his ego needed to be protected and tried to do that by not blaming him for his mistakes. But it sounds like the bigger statement for him was: ‘Am I still a man and do you still desire me?’”

But it’s the selfish, uncontrolled behaviour of a spoilt child, I insist. Weiner-Davis doesn’t disagree. “Women often say that they feel they have three children instead of two children and a husband,” she admits. “But the fact that this husband was telling his wife what he was feeling sad about is a really good sign: some people throw in the towel.

Is the deal explicit, I ask, does the low-desire one say: “OK, we’ll make love more often, but then you have to turn your iPhone off every once in a while so we can actually talk”?

Yes and no, Weiner-Davis says. “This isn’t about keeping score. Relationships are not 50:50. They’re 100:100. We have to take responsibility for doing everything that it takes to put the relationship on track – even if you’re not getting the response you want initially. That’s really hard.

“It’s about asking yourself,” she says, “when he or she speaks and acts badly, whether it’s because you have not had sex for four weeks. Is their anger actually about feeling hurt and rejected? If it is, the low-desire spouse needs to be more sexy – even though they will not want to do this. And the other one needs to ask themselves when the last time the couple spent quality time together.”

On the other hand, Weiner-Davis admits there is a limit. “I’d say that after several weeks, if nothing has changed in terms of reciprocity, then the couple do need to sit down and identify what’s missing in their relationship for each of them and what they would like to have.”

Michele Weiner-Davis’s cure for a sex-starved marriage

If you have a low sex drive try to adopt the Nike philosophy – and ‘Just Do It!’, even if you feel neutral towards having sex at that moment.

If you’re the one with a high sex drive, try to discover the way your partner wants to receive love. It’s typically through quality time, words of affirmation, thoughtful, practical acts of caring and material gifts.

If you don’t want sex at a particular moment, explain why and suggest another specific time – and ask whether you can do something else physical at that moment for your partner instead.

If you have a higher sex drive than your partner, try to empathise with them and accept they might never want wild or creative sex, but see the increased level of intercourse as a gift showing their love.

Remember there’s no daily or weekly minimum to ensure a healthy sex life. As a couple you need to work out together what works for you.

What is the best time to resume sexual intercourse after birth?

What is the best time to resume sexual intercourse after birth?

One of the most intriguing things about working with women is the ease with which rapport is established once they feel comfortable with the topic at hand and do not feel judged for having a difference of opinion.


What is the best time to resume sexual intercourse after birth?
Resumption of sex is dependent on a triad of good physical, mental and psychological states. The body has a great capacity to heal after birth.

These discussions happen in any setting and hence in many instances, being a gynaecologist means occasionally having to clarify medical issues outside the office.

In one such instance, the very interesting conversation of when to resume sexual activity after childbirth came up. Opinions around the table were expressed with utmost humour, but reflected the reality that it is not a topic that is often discussed in the doctor’s office.

One of us, a mother of one, was absolutely dumbfounded by what she was hearing and remained quiet for a long time.

When she finally spoke, her surprise was genuine. She could not understand how one would wait for weeks to resume sex. She had undergone a normal delivery and in less than a week, it was business as usual for her.

So what is deemed the correct time to resume sexual intercourse after birth? There are no hard and fast rules except that one needs to wait for lochea (the bleeding that occurs after delivery) to dry up. The rest is quite subjective.

Lucy had a normal delivery for her first child. She had a fairly easy time, with a short labour and a relatively small baby born at 2.7 kg. She did not need an episiotomy (a cut made by the doctor or midwife to increase the vaginal outlet to ease delivery of the baby) and she did not sustain any tears in the peri-vaginal area.

After birth, she recovered fairly quickly and within two weeks she had stopped bleeding. By the third week, she comfortably had her first sexual encounter and other than the unruly breast milk splashing all over, she did not complain.

Seven years later when her second baby came, things were different. She had an uneventful pregnancy but at birth, her delivery was complicated.

Her baby weighed four kilos and she had shoulder dystocia, a complication where the baby’s head is out but the shoulders get stuck in the pelvis, putting the baby at risk of suffocating.

The response by the medical team was swift and aggressive. Lucy got an episiotomy and a fair amount of bruising. Despite healing well afterwards, she was scared of sexual intercourse because she thought she would be in pain. It took a lot of counselling and reassurance to resume a normal sex life.


Resumption of sex is dependent on a triad of good physical, mental and psychological states. The body has a great capacity to heal after birth. The episiotomy or tears heal in three to six weeks, and in the same time, the lochea will dry up.

The uterus will have shrunk back to its pre-pregnancy size by six weeks. Physically, a woman should be able to safely engage in sex without pain. Painful intercourse requires review by the doctor to ascertain and treat the cause.

Apart from genital tract wellness, overall body wellness is also important. As the hormones settle down, the toll of taking care of a newborn comes in, causing chronic fatigue.

Some mothers may have battled complications such as high blood pressure, diabetes and anaemia during pregnancy that they are still recovering from. Others may have delivered by Caesarean section and will be nursing wounds, both externally and internally.

The mental state must never be overlooked. Post-partum blues are fairly common though grossly under-diagnosed. This interferes with the function of the woman as a whole, from the swinging moods, to feelings of inadequacy as a mother or lack of affection for her baby, to sexual hypofunction.

In the extreme spectrum, postpartum psychosis will strongly disable a new mother to the point of needing hospitalisation.

Perhaps the psychological state is the most under-appreciated. A positive sexual encounter is heavily dependent on a woman’s psychological state.

Her environment is vital in determining how she feels. A mother who feels supported and appreciated in her new role, having peace of mind and without social pressure, is more likely to be well adjusted and hence more responsive.

However, some mothers may be alone, battling the crying baby with a terrible case of colic, without help. Others may have lack a partner to shoulder the responsibility with, while others may be worried about financial pressures. With such an unsettled mind, sex is the last thing on their mind.

All in all, good health is not only just physical but also sexual. It is a component of postpartum care that must not be ignored. It is the pillar upon which contraceptives are discussed and offered. The woman needs to be reassured that it is all right to have a healthy sex life and her partner needs to understand the situation so as to be supportive.

While at it, let us not forget the mums who are not breastfeeding for various reasons; their fertility resumes earlier and they will require contraceptives earlier to avoid getting pregnant weeks after birth.

SOURCE: The Bloomgist/Agencies

What do you do when you can’t get it right?

By Omoteniola Akinwalere

The weekend is around the corner and yes, it’s already buzzing at my end. So, I came across



his girl’s story on one of my numerous WhatsApp groups and I just kept imagining how one
person could be sooo dumb. I know by now, you’re already wondering what happened. Just
chillax, you’ll probably think so too by the time you finish reading the story.
She said her first boyfriend asked her for sex and even though she’s an usher and believed
premarital sex was wrong, she allowed him and three months later, he dumped her. Details of
what went wrong was unknown.
The second one was an illiterate who sold spare parts according to her and even though she
was a graduate, she still agreed to date him. She bought him things and even tutored him in the
aspects of speaking and writing English only to find out about his fiancée one week to his
wedding. I guess we all know how that ended.
The next one after him impregnated his ex-girlfriend and she found out after she had just slept
with him. The baby mama texted her and asked her to stop sleeping with her husband.
That was when she decided that marriage wasn’t meant for her and she would rather remain
single. She said she was confused and didn’t know what to do.
On my own part, I think she’s just dumb and failed to see the signs and writings on the wall.
She needs your opinions. What do you really think is wrong with her or do you think it’s just the
men she has been dating who are bad? Let me know what you think she should do. I’ll be
reading your comments

Could this be dirtiness or is it just manliness?

By Olaleye Omoteniola Akinwalere

So, there’s this story that has been circulating on social media since last week. I guess you all might have seen it as well. I’m talking about the man whose wife travelled and left him at home for a week and came back after one week to meet dirty plates in the sink.

A lot of people have been saying a lot of things, people giving their own opinions and all of that but seriously what could have caused it if not for laziness? I mean I can’t even imagine myself eating for just one day without washing my plates not to talk of a whole week, that’s sheer laziness and dirtiness.

This brings us to issues bordering on child training in Nigeria. Most Nigerian families place moreimportance on the training of the female child than that of the male child primarily for marriage purposes. They teach the girls how to sit, how to take care of the home, how to talk in public and even how to cook a variety of delicacies while all the while exempting the boys from such teachings. This isn’t good enough. We should train our boys to grow up to become good husbands as well rather than just training only the girls how to be good wives. I’m very sure that if that man had been trained properly while growing up, washing his own plates wouldn’t have meant anything to him.

A lot of men out there think it’s demeaning and below them to help their wives with household chores. This is wrong. Household chores are not designed for women alone. Men should try and help out once in a while when they have the chance. There are so many men out there who still help their wives out with household chores. It shouldn’t be something to measure your self worth or manliness with. It just shows how responsible you are and how much you really love and care about your wife.

This is just my own opinion on the whole issue. Some people might not agree with me and it’s fine. I would really love to read your own opinions in the comment box.

Have a wonderful weekend y’all.

This article expresses the authors’ opinion only. The views expressed in this article are that of the author’s and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of The Bloomgist.

Your own opinion articles, feedback, suggestions, complaints or compliments are welcome at

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My husband told me a woman kissed him, should I forgive him?

My partner is pressuring me for a second baby, but I am struggling with the one we have, I need help

I feel like I’m facing the worst dilemma of my life, in which either outcome is absolute and which, if I get wrong, there’s no going back from.

My partner wants us to have a second baby. When we got together I knew that a family was part of the deal. Originally, I didn’t want children but I wanted him and I saw the potential to be a great family rather than a great couple.

We had our daughter a year ago but, because we’re in our 40s (I’m 42, he’s 45), the pressure is on to have another one quickly – ideally, getting pregnant in a few months’ time.

I am feeling incredibly anxious about this. I don’t want a second pregnancy/baby/toddler, but I do want a two-child family. Although I am happy with how “good” a mother I am, I find childcare emotionally and physically draining, relentless, frustrating and often infuriating.

I am not an anxious mother, but the extent to which it drains me is making me anxious. I am also self-employed and work from home but that doesn’t make things easier – life is trying to fit my administrative mountain around emptying the dishwasher and putting the laundry out while a baby cries at my feet.

I find one, very easy baby “takes” a lot from me, and I don’t know if I have enough energy – physically or emotionally – to manage two, which would be exacerbated by the fast turnaround time. My partner says we’ll get as much help as we can afford but I still feel it’ll be another five years of (my) hard labour until they go to school and I have some respite. I don’t know what state I’ll be in by then.

I do, however, see us as a family with two children (for the family dynamic and that they’ll play with each other down the line). I also feel nervous and guilty about making the decision to stick with one, having an easier time now but a harder time later as an only child requires extra looking after as there aren’t any siblings to play with. I don’t want to be responsible for my partner’s disappointment and resentment either. I don’t want a lifetime of feeling I’ve made a mistake – either way – and I feel like I’m going to be dogged by “what if?” all my life.


I have heavily edited your letter, but, in your longer version what I got, overwhelmingly, was that you don’t want another baby yet, maybe ever. Having “just” one baby is not a crime; it’s not an afterthought or a disaster. For some people, it’s a positive, conscious decision. I’m not telling you to stick with one, or go for two. I can’t possibly make that decision for you. But your thoughts and feelings do matter in this and I’d like to reflect them back to you.

You sound overwhelmed. Your closing paragraph in your original letter contained 10 negative adjectives to describe your state of mind. You also mentioned “rage”. I don’t think any of this can be ignored. Another baby is not a magic fix for an idea of the perfect family life. Your next pregnancy may be smooth sailing, or it might not be. It may push you over the edge. Your next child could be “easy” – or not. You may have twins. Your children may get on or they may fight all the time. When there are so many unknowns, you really need to hone in on what you want. And yes, of course it is a decision for you and your husband, but as you do the majority of the childcare and you say your health is suffering and you struggle during pregnancy, I really do think you have the veto on this.

How do you hone in on what you want? By allowing yourself the luxury of trying to be in the now, and not thinking about this for at least a couple of months – your daughter is at a great age, what a shame to miss it thinking about the what-ifs. I know that at 42, you will feel you don’t have lots of time on your side but you may be more fertile than a woman who is much younger. (Your biggest guide, although no guarantee, is looking at your mother – did she conceive easily in her 40s? Did you conceive easily first time round?)

The first year of your first child’s life can be particularly hard and not often the best time to make life-changing decisions. If your partner has promised help second time round, what about getting that help now so you can see what life will be with more support? I think you need to talk to your husband and, if you have a sympathetic one, your GP. It’s great you are getting therapy and I think you need to give that time to work.

It’s really good that you are giving this lots of thought, and it’s causing you angst because it’s an important decision – this shows you are sensible and aware! Many women stop having children but always wonder what it might have been like to have “one more”, but it’s often just a fleeting thought, not a life-destroying lament.

A few years ago, when I was thinking about having another child, someone gave me some good advice, which is to make sure it’s a positive decision, not something you just let happen, or let slide. I realised you can love the idea of something, but the reality would be different. I think it’s a distinction you need to explore.

 When leaving a message on this page, please be sensitive to the fact that you are responding to a real person in the grip of a real-life dilemma, who wrote to Private Lives asking for help, and may well view your comments here. Please consider especially how your words or the tone of your message could be perceived by someone in this situation, and be aware that comments that appear to be disruptive or disrespectful to the individual concerned will be removed.

 If you would like fellow readers to respond to a problem of yours, send us an outline of the situation of about 150 words. For advice from readers on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns.

 All correspondence should reach us by Wednesday morning. Email:

I haven’t had sex with my partner for 24 years and I am tempted to sleep with a friend, what should I do?

My partner and I have been together for 27 years. We are like soulmates and I love him very much, but he stopped having sex with me 24 years ago. I am now almost 50 and he is a few years older.


We have had our ups and downs, but have always grown closer, regardless of the lack of sex. I have had a few affairs in the past that I am greatly ashamed of. My last affair was four years ago, but recently a friend, who I know would be discreet, has made advances. We have only kissed but if I’m honest, I do want to have sex with him.

However, the thought of doing such a thing plays with my mind and my heart. I don’t want to be that terrible person. My partner won’t talk to me. He is completely closed. He says it’s him and not me. I just want us to be happy. I don’t want to leave him. I feel safe with him. I want to look after him and to know he is all right.

 When leaving a message on this page, please be sensitive to the fact that you are responding to a real person in the grip of a real-life dilemma, who wrote to Private Lives asking for help, and may well view your comments here. Please consider especially how your words or the tone of your message could be perceived by someone in this situation, and be aware that comments that appear to be disruptive or disrespectful to the individual concerned will be removed.

 If you would like fellow readers to respond to a problem of yours, send us an outline of the situation of about 150 words. For advice from readers on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns.

 All correspondence should reach us by Wednesday morning. Email:

My partner says he want to start having sex with other guys

My boyfriend and I have been together for more than a year. We love each other – but he has been bringing up the possibility of having sex with other guys. He says he hasn’t been satisfied with our sex life, but I told him I can’t emotionally deal with an open relationship. Even so, he brought it up a second time.


Before considering an open relationship, it is essential to understand what – for him – is unsatisfying about sex between the two of you. This needs to be discussed in a non-blaming manner, so specific problems can be addressed and, hopefully, fixed. Within certain communities where open relationships are relatively common, there may be a tendency for some to opt for that rather than fully exploring intimacy within their primary relationship. This is not for everyone, and can lead to much pain and chaos if not fully emotionally consensual for all.

There are many kinds of “open relationships”, and negotiating rules and guidelines is extremely important. For example, would he tell you if he has sex with someone else? Is he considering multiple partners? Would a third party come to your home or stay overnight? Every possibility should be negotiated.

But it is very different to have, “Hey, let’s have sex with other people for fun” suggested, than to have what you have been presented with, which is: “I’m dissatisfied with you, so I want to have sex elsewhere.” Few people would feel comfortable with that, and you certainly do not have to agree to it. Listen carefully to his ideas and feelings then make a smart decision.

 When leaving a message on this page, please be sensitive to the fact that you are responding to a real person in the grip of a real-life dilemma, who wrote to Private Lives asking for help, and may well view your comments here. Please consider especially how your words or the tone of your message could be perceived by someone in this situation, and be aware that comments that appear to be disruptive or disrespectful to the individual concerned will be removed.

 If you would like fellow readers to respond to a problem of yours, send us an outline of the situation of about 150 words. For advice from readers on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns.

 All correspondence should reach us by Wednesday morning. Email:

My husband told me a woman kissed him, should I forgive him?

My partner earns far more than I do but wants me to pay half of our bills

My husband told me a woman kissed him, should I forgive him?
File photo: Unity Gym

I am a woman in my late 20s with a good career, but I struggle to get by and have £10,000 worth of debt. Some of this I borrowed from my partner to repay a credit card. I have been with him for more than a year and we are talking about me moving in with him.

He earns three times what I do and is sensible with money, which I respect. The issue is that he wants to split the mortgage and bills 50/50. Part of me thinks this is fair, but he admits his bills will not increase, so any “rent” I pay will just be an additional number on his spreadsheet. It upsets me that he could help me without any cost to himself, yet won’t. We have talked but haven’t come to an agreement. Am I being unreasonable?

 When leaving a message on this page, please be sensitive to the fact that you are responding to a real person in the grip of a real-life dilemma, who wrote to Private Lives asking for help, and may well view your comments here. Please consider especially how your words or the tone of your message could be perceived by someone in this situation, and be aware that comments that appear to be disruptive or disrespectful to the individual concerned will be removed.

 If you would like fellow readers to respond to a problem of yours, send us an outline of the situation of about 150 words. For advice from readers on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns.

 All correspondence should reach us by Wednesday morning. Email:

Sexual healing: I can’t climax with my girlfriend when I wear a condom

At 64, I just don’t get the same sensation with a condom, and manual stimulation during intercourse is uncomfortable for her.


I am 64. My girlfriend is 48. She cannot take the pill, so I wear a condom. I have no problem having an orgasm without a condom but when I wear one, I don’t get the same sensation.

Today, I had her stroke me while having intercourse, but the position is uncomfortable for her. Oral is out – she had a bad experience in the past.

First, experiment with different kinds of condoms. A wide variety is available on the market, and certain types might allow a better sensation for you. But try to think creatively about your sexual styles. Is it important for you to climax during intercourse, or could you enjoy “her favourite” for a while, then remove the condom and invite her to bring you to orgasm manually – with your help and guidance?

As men age, they need more direct genital stimulation, so as a couple you will have to find ways to cater to your needs. For example, I am sure that the erotic imaginations of you and your girlfriend could lead you both to devise exciting ways to achieve orgasm.

It would also be reasonable for your own hand to provide the finishing touch. The best sex occurs when teaching, learning and experimentation takes place between partners who ask for what they truly need.

Pamela Stephenson Connolly is a US-based psychotherapist specialising in sexual disorders.

When leaving a message on this page, please be sensitive to the fact that you are responding to a real person in the grip of a real-life dilemma, who wrote to Private Lives asking for help, and may well view your comments here. Please consider especially how your words or the tone of your message could be perceived by someone in this situation, and be aware that comments that appear to be disruptive or disrespectful to the individual concerned will be removed.

If you would like fellow readers to respond to a problem of yours, send us an outline of the situation of about 150 words. For advice from readers on sexual matters, send us a brief description of your concerns.

All correspondence should reach us by Wednesday morning. Email:

Source: The Bloomgist/Guardian UK

Five things Nigerian women hide from their husbands

Guys, if you are a married, or thinking of settling down soon, there is probably something your lady is not telling you. Continue reading “Five things Nigerian women hide from their husbands”

Sexual healing: My partner has a phobia of kissing – but tries to have sex when asleep

He only kisses me when he ‘sleep sexes’ Continue reading “Sexual healing: My partner has a phobia of kissing – but tries to have sex when asleep”

Opinion: How do we make better husbands and fathers of men?

Last Saturday I had the privilege of being in the midst of a group of Continue reading “Opinion: How do we make better husbands and fathers of men?”

Are Igbo brides ‘most expensive’ brides in Nigeria?

Eastern brides are said to be the most expensive brides in Nigeria, in terms of what is reportedly demanded of the potential groom in the ‘list’ Continue reading “Are Igbo brides ‘most expensive’ brides in Nigeria?”

Early retirement: does it mean early death

Aspot of gardening, going travelling – who hasn’t daydreamed about early retirement? So damn the latest study in the Continue reading “Early retirement: does it mean early death”

What happens when parents argue in front of their parents

As parents, we try not to row in front of our children. Instinctively, we know they find it hard to cope when we’re at odds with one another, and they’re disturbed if our arguments become persistent or hostile. This is plain common sense.

Couple arguing

But there’s some important new information that all parents need to be aware of. It was published in a new report by the Early Intervention Foundation (EIF) – where I am chief executive – along with the University of Sussex. Its findings? Simply: that unresolved conflict between parents has a potent influence on children’s early development, mental health and future life chances.

This is true whether the parents are together or apart. Having disagreements is normal, of course. What does the harm is the ‘unresolved’ part. Children need to know how arguments can be settled, allowing life to move on.

Ongoing conflict between parents can affect a child’s mental health, the development of their social and emotional skills, academic attainment – and can impact their ability to form future relationships. It can also damage their physical health, lasting through their adult lives and into the next generation. And it starts early.

Babies as young as six months show higher physiological symptoms of distress, such as an elevated heart rate, in response to overt exchanges between their parents, when compared to exchanges between adults who are not parents.

But children of all ages can be affected by destructive inter-parental conflict – outwardly through high levels of aggression, hostility and violence; inwardly through low self-esteem, anxiety, depression and, in extreme cases, suicidal feelings.

Policy and services need to consider the couple relationship (together or apart) as well as the parent-child relationship
Policy and services need to consider the couple relationship as well as the parent-child (posed by models)

I found the new report, which was commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions, striking both as a parent and because of the implications for my work. The EIF’s mission is to improve the life chances of children at risk by using effective early intervention – reaching them before any problems escalate.

Much of the focus of early intervention, in recent years, has been on the relationship between the parents – usually the mother and child. These can range from parenting groups to therapeutic support and many of the approaches are effective. But this report suggests that it’s actually the quality of the inter-parental relationship that has a significant influence on both children’s long-term psychological outcomes and the quality of parenting they receive.

This is an important issue that services aren’t really considering. It’s a critical missing piece of the jigsaw.

It also resonates with day-to-day experience.  We may kid ourselves that our children don’t notice rows, but the reality is they’re highly perceptive and attuned to how their parents relate to each other. How children perceive their parents’ level of conflict determines how they expect their parents to behave towards them – and this, in turn, can lead to psychological distress.

What’s fascinating is that conflict between parents has more of an impact on the relationship between a father and his child than a mother and her child. As a dad, if you’re having frequent difficulties in your relationship with the mother of your children, this is more likely to filter into how you relate to and parent your offspring. Mums seem to be better at insulating their children from this spill-over effect.

Children of all ages can be affected by destructive inter-parental conflict (posed by model)
Children of all ages can be affected by destructive inter-parental conflict (posed by model)

This is important for thinking about the best ways of supporting families and children to address these issues. Policy and services need to consider the couple relationship (together or apart) as well as the parent-child relationship – and it needs to address fathers as well mothers.

There is a growing international body of well-evidenced interventions, which have positive impacts on both parents and children. But policymakers and commissioners should consider support for both the couple themselves and the parenting relationship. Just targeting the general parental–child relationship, in the context of ongoing parental conflict, does not lead to sustained positive outcomes for children.

How we currently organise services is very far away from this. Child and Adolescent Mental Health services are focused on the child or young person, rather than the family. Many local authorities separate adult and children’s services, making it very difficult to take a whole family approach.

Ante natal classes may help prepare couples for the birth experience, but they rarely cover the impact a new baby can have their relationship. Relationship support services are stretched and have not traditionally focused on the impact on children. Schools are often aware of problems but are wary of intervening unless there are child protection issues.

We need more emphasis on teaching children and young people ways of managing conflict to better prepare them for life ahead.

Most parents desperately want the best for their kids. We must put families at the heart of how we organise services and give parents the confidence to seek help if they need it. The Government’s aspiration to improve life chances depends on it.

SOURCE: Bloom Gist News/New Telegraph IK

‘Spending too much time with your partner may be the problem.’ Photograph: Microzoa/Getty Images

10 tips on how to have sex with same person for the rest of your life

1 Accept that having sex with the same person for the rest of your life – unless it’s yourself (see later) – is hard and, at times, boring.

‘Spending too much time with your partner may be the problem.’ Photograph: Microzoa/Getty Images
‘Spending too much time with your partner may be the problem.’ Photograph: Microzoa/Getty Images

But not impossible. The problem – actually, there are several and also lots of contradictions – is that the received wisdom has always been to spend more time with your partner to build something called “intimacy”, which will lead to The Sex. Actually, this may be wrong.

2 Spending too much time with your partner may be the problem. Do romantic weekends make you feel really unromantic and panicked? Seeing someone all the time is not sexy after the first few months. It leads to something called habituation, which must be avoided at all costs if you want to continue having sex with your partner. Habituation is when you stop really seeing someone/thing because you see them all the time, ie taking someone for granted, which leads to hating their guts. In one survey, a common answer to the question “When do you feel most attracted to your partner?” was “When they weren’t there.” This is because anticipation is a powerful aphrodisiac and distance lets erotic imagination back in, which leads to fantasy. Unfortunately, it’s often cruelly crushed when your partner comes back into view.

3 The major stumbling block to sex in a long-term relationship is that you’re after two opposing things: security, reliability – lovely anchoring things like that which make you feel safe – but you also want fire, passion, risk, danger, newness. The two camps are opposed. If you have one, you can’t have the other.

4 The answer is to try to get pockets of distance. Make sure you stay true to yourself. Do things for yourself and by yourself; socialise on your own sometimes. In another survey, respondents said that they found their partners sexiest when the partners were in their element: the life and soul of the party, doing a job really well. Being “other” to the person they knew as reliable and as their partner. Having sex at your partner’s place of work may be something to consider if you can avoid CCTV. You don’t want to watch yourself having sex with the same person over and over again on YouTube because you have become a meme.

5 All this said, you do need to spendsome quality time together to keep the bonds going. Sharing good experiences is better than spending your money on stuff for each other. This is because memories of experiences shared become more golden with the passing of time, unlike mere things you get used to (see habituation). Also you can only throw things at each other in an argument that leads to sex if you are in a film starring Sophia Loren. In real life, it leads to hate and mess.

6 Masturbation is basically having sex with the same person for all of your life, yet no one gets sick of that. Why? Because you are safe to go into your own private head-place, and the chances are that there is a real dissonance between the erotic you and the you in the real world. The erotic you has no place in your every day life, the erotic you may not be very responsible (responsibility kills sex drive). The erotic you only has one goal. Orgasm. It isn’t the point, they always tell you that in sex columns, but it’s nice – otherwise, come on, what is the point of all that effort? It’s this distance that’s at the heart of keeping an erotic charge between you and your partner. Consider separate bedrooms.

7 Learn the difference between wanting someone and neediness. The first is sexy, the latter isn’t. Looking after someone because you want to is different from one person being cast in the parenting role to the other, which isn’t sexy at all and will lead to a lack of sex with your partner and, possibly, lots of sex with someone else who doesn’t need looking after.

8 Don’t expect your partner to be everything to you. There’s an oft quoted phrase in relationship circles: “don’t expect your partner to do the job a whole village once did.” Also be realistic: two centuries ago you’d probably be dead by the age of 50, now marriages can last longer.

9 But! Take solace in the fact that older people do have more sex. Last year, a study found that if you’ve been married to the same person for 65 years, you have more sex than you did at your 50th wedding anniversary.

10 The secret of sex with the same person for ever, says Esther Perel, the author of Mating in Captivity, is letting go of “the myth of spontaneity. Committed sex is willful, premeditated, focused and present”. She also suggests good tools for talking with your partner (or to find out things about yourself), for example, start conversations with: “I shut myself off when …” and “I turn myself on when …”

Happy relationships can boost life expectancy

7 facts that shows Couples are healthier, wealthier… and less trim

Happy relationships can boost life expectancy

They say that marriage isn’t a word, but a sentence. For the most part however, it seems to be a cushy one. Quite aside from the massive party, shiny ring and tax breaks, science has revealed numerous other benefits to getting hitched. For instance, just last week a study was published suggesting thatbeing married boosts your chances of surviving cancer. “Generally speaking, people who are in stable marriages have better health compared to those who have never been married, but it’s not so much about being legally married as the benefits of being in a stable, long-term relationship,” says George Ploubidis, reader in population health and statistics at University College London.

So what else is good about being paired off? Here’s our guide to the upside of settling down.

Physical health

Numerous studies have associated marriage with a lower risk of disease, from diabetes to cardiovascular and respiratory problems – particularly if you are a man. “Married people tend to smoke less, drink less alcohol, and eat more healthily,” says Ploubidis. “Having a joint income also helps, and relationships can provide a buffer against the stresses of major life events.”

Cohabitants, on the other hand, seem to drink and smoke more, yet they are still buffered against some of the negative consequences, Ploubidis and his colleagues have found. “Possibly this is because they eat more healthily or have greater levels of social support,” he says.

But this is only likely to be true of happy unions. Separate research has revealed that individuals in conflict-ridden relationships have higher levels of inflammation, which is associated with many age-related diseases, weaker responses to vaccination and slower healing rates, compared with happy couples.


Being happily married can also boost your chances of living a long life. When researchers combined the results of numerous studies, they found thathusbands and wives were 10-15% less likely to die prematurely than the population as a whole.

Possibly it’s because if you’re in a long-term relationship, you’ve got someone else looking out for your health. “Your familiarity with someone else’s body has benefits in terms of their health status: you could be looking at their back and see a mole that needs attention, or there was a case a while ago where the man was touching his wife’s breast and felt a lump,” says Kaye Wellings of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. “And if one person stops smoking, generally the other one stops as well.”

However, critics of these studies point out that many count people who are divorced or widowed as unmarried, even though they might have spent many years as part of a couple. Instead they point to results from the Terman Life-Cycle Study, which started in 1921 and followed 1,528 men and women for as long as they lived. Here, those that lived the longest were those who got married and stayed married – and those who never married in the first place.

Once again, the quality of the relationship probably matters. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health revealed that people who experienced frequent conflicts with their partner were twice as likely to die during the study period than those who rarely experienced conflict.


Happy relationships can boost life expectancy 3

They say you can’t put a price on love, but that hasn’t stopped economists from trying. People who get married and stay married have roughly double the wealth of those who never marry – or four times the wealth if you consider their combined household income, research by Jay Zagorsky at Ohio State University suggests. In part, this is because increasingly, both halves of the couple work, meaning two salaries. Couples can also take advantage of economies of scale, buying one car that they share and maintain, rather than two, for instance; and it can occasionally mean that one partner picks up the slack while the other goes for a promotion, or works hard to score a bonus, for instance.But it’s also true that wealthy, and highly educated individuals are more likely to marry in the first place. Recent data from the Marriage Foundation suggests that wealthier couples are four times more likely to get married than people from poorer backgrounds – perhaps no surprise when you consider the average cost of a wedding is £20,500

And if you get married and then divorce, Zagorsky’s research suggests you’ll end up financially worse off than if you’d never married in the first place.

Less loneliness

The health benefits of long-term relationships also seem to extend to mental health: married people report less depression, and they’re also less likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. Of course, people who are prone to depression and substance abuse may also be less likely to form long-term relationships in the first place. But partnering up does have the benefit of providing a shoulder to cry on when things get tough; a problem shared is a problem halved, after all.That’s not to say that singledom necessarily condemns you to a life of loneliness and depression, however. One reason why the benefits of marriage seem so much greater for men than women could be that women often have larger social networks outside marriage, and these already give them valuable support. If you’re single, maintaining strong friendships could provide a similar emotional prop.


You get married and live happily ever after, right? Generally speaking, research supports the idea that married people are happier. But perhaps happier people are more likely to get married in the first place. Happy people tend to be more sociable, and they’re therefore more likely to meet someone they’d like to form a long-term relationship with in the first place. Getting married also seems to cause a temporary blip in happiness levels: one study that tracked 24,000 German couples over 15 years found that although marriage increased happiness in the short term, as time wore on, individuals’ happiness levels eventually returned to their premarital state.

However, a recent study that combined British data with data from the Gallup World Poll concluded that marriage really does make individuals happier in the long run. The effects were particularly vivid during middle age, when people feel the toll of family demands, career stress and wondering where on earth their life is going. Here, married people experienced a shallower dip than singletons.

Sex life

Happy relationships can boost life expectancy 2

Surely single people have more sex though? In fact, people who are married or cohabiting have sex roughly twice as often as those who are single, says Wellings, who is also co-lead of the National Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyle Study (Natsal). But it is true that the frequency of sex declines the longer a couple have been together. “After taking account of age and relationship type, those whose relationship has lasted less than two years have sex twice as frequently as those for whom it has lasted six years or more,” Wellings says. American research echoes this trend. For instance, a 2010 survey of 5,865 Americans found that 61% of singles reported not having had sex within the past year, compared with 18% of married people.What about quality of sex? This is harder to get data on, but Natsal has recorded levels of sexual satisfaction among interviewees. Here, it seems that absence really does make the heart grow fonder: 65% of men and 67% of women who live with their partner report being sexually satisfied, compared to 83% and 80% of those who are in a steady relationship, but live apart. This compares to 46% and 44% of men and women who have never lived with a partner (and 39% and 35% of those who are single now but previously lived with someone).


So couples are happier, wealthier, live longer lives and are having more satisfying sex than single people. No wonder they’re so smug. But at least singletons have one thing to feel superior about: they’re likely to be fitter and slimmer. Married men are 25% more likely to be obese or overweight than their unmarried counterparts, one recent US study found – though there was no significant difference for women. Another study found that unmarried men and women spend an extra 1hr 36min per fortnight exercising on average, compared to married individuals. Some of this may be due to the demands of raising children – although curiously, the gap between the married and the never-married was greater for men. Perhaps it is true that married people are more inclined to let themselves go.

SOURCE: Bloom Gist News, The Guardian UK

Six reasons you should never have a family pet


Supercilious dogs, tortoises with icky illnesses, chickens that stink. If you think a family pet is a good idea, read this first. Emma Beddington debunks the myths.

Continue reading “Six reasons you should never have a family pet”