Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine offers her advice on dealing with rebellious teenagers, and a partner who is refusing to take his medication.

Why don't my children love me anymore?

I FEEL as though my teenage children have stopped loving me. For the most part, it's as though I don't even live in the same house as them, even though I do the lion's share of the cooking, cleaning and washing.

On top of this, I'm holding down a part-time job at a local solicitors firm, which leaves me feeling exhausted. If I ask them a question or make a comment about something, they'll roll their eyes, snigger at each other and carry on doing whatever they were doing.

If I'm foolish enough to ask for help in the house - which I don't think is unreasonable given they're all teenagers - I get a barrage of excuses and abuse, some of which is really hurtful. Last week, my youngest lost his temper and accused me of hating him, when all I'd done was ask him to finish his homework before going out.

I don't hate any of them, I love them all, but sometimes it is hard to like them, especially when I get signals that suggest they really don't like me. My husband doesn't seem to get the same treatment from them, but then again, he's out working most of the week. What am I doing wrong and what have I got to do to get them to love me again? – LD

Fiona says: Don't blame yourself

You're doing nothing wrong. You provide a loving home for three young people and you're doing it in the face of some fairly typical teenage behaviour - moodiness, anger and a reluctance to do anything that's asked of them. So please, try to stop feeling that you are unloved. I suspect there is nothing more sinister going on here, other than teenagers exerting a growing sense of independence as they approach adulthood. Throughout this process it is usual for friends, peers and relationships away from the home environment to become more important to them.

Yes, they can be hurtful, confusing and worrying, but I suspect they are also completely unaware that they are causing you so much pain. All of this explains their behaviour, but it doesn't mean that you must accept it (nor should it mean that they're allowed to continue to ignore and ridicule you, as that's just disrespectful and rude).

I suggest you find a time when they are all likely to be free and have a serious talk with them. Explain just how hurt and exhausted you're feeling and ask them for their help in making some changes. It's important that you involve your husband in this, as they need to see that you are both serious and united about tackling the issue.

Before you have this chat, you might also find it useful to get some pointers on how best to communicate with teenagers and what tactics are likely to work best. The charity Family Lives ( has an extensive section on teenagers on their website, as well as a confidential helpline, online forums and parenting courses, should you feel the need.

Why is my husband refusing to take his medication?

A FEW months back, a doctor told my husband that he had raised blood pressure, and put him on a couple of medications to lower this and his cholesterol level. At the time, he seemed to accept the diagnosis and remembered to take the medication.

However, after a couple of weeks, he started to forget to take the pill - I think, deliberately. He now appears to have stopped taking them completely, and if I remind him, he gets defensive and then angry.

I have tried to make him understand that I'm worried about him, but he won't see sense. He says he's exercising more and that, as he's only 46, he's got plenty of time to deal with his health issues without taking tablets. – TS

Fiona says: try speaking to his GP

Your partner is most likely hoping that his condition will go away simply by ignoring it. Unfortunately, this is a common response from people when faced with a potentially life-threatening condition. So too is aggression or anger, as you've found.

Every time he takes a pill or you explain how important it is, he's reminded of his own mortality. The stark truth is that people with high blood pressure are up to three times more likely to develop heart disease or have a stroke, and plenty of these people are in their 40s.

If he won't accept the facts, then there is little you can do, other than perhaps tell his GP that you're worried he isn't taking his medication. The doctor won't talk to you, but will be able to talk to him at his next appointment.

Why is my son avoiding me?

A LITTLE over a year ago my son got divorced and moved to a flat about three miles away. When he was married and lived half an hour away, I saw him regularly, often with his son. Now I see his ex-wife and my grandson more than I do him.

In fact, the last time I saw him was at a funeral four months ago, where he seemed awkward and tried to avoid me. His ex-wife has told me he hardly visits his son too, which I'm sure isn't healthy. Why is he doing this when we used to be so close? – RN

Fiona says: You won't find out unless you talk to him

He may be feeling guilty or embarrassed about the divorce, especially if he was at fault. He may be deeply depressed about it too, which could explain why he might try to avoid situations where he has to talk about what happened. Alternatively, he might resent the fact that you have continued to see his ex-wife, especially if he feels that he is the injured party in the divorce. Whatever the reasons, you won't find out what's bothering him unless you can get him to talk.

If he won't visit, I suggest you call him, tell him how much you miss him and try to draw him out of the shell he's created for himself. Don't judge what's happened, and stress that you haven't taken sides, but simply want to continue to see your grandson. If he can't (or won't) talk to you, encourage him to speak to his GP or a Relate counsellor ( about getting through this.

I'd like to add that not seeing his son is indeed unhealthy, and you should also encourage him to try and rebuild this relationship.

I've fallen for my friend's crush

MY friend is attracted to a new guy at work and, as he's shy, she asked me to scope him out first. At first, I thought he was a bit boring and I told her so, but she's keen on him and a good friend, so for the past four weeks, I've taken every chance to chat with him.

At an after work drinks session last week, he made it clear he was attracted to me, which also made me realise I've fallen for him too. I'm in a real mess now - as how do I tell my best friend that I've fallen for the guy she wants? Should I just say that he's not interested? – IA

Fiona says: Be honest with your friend

If you value your friendship, and I suspect you do, I think hiding your feelings would be a mistake. It sounds as if you all work at the same company and the probability that you will be able to keep this a secret, especially if you start seeing this guy, is very slim indeed.

Better, I think, to come clean and explain that you never meant for this to happen. Your friend may well be upset and angry, but hopefully she'll be able to see that you have been honest and that you value her friendship.

If not, you will have to decide which is more important to you; your friendship or the chance of a relationship with this guy.

If you have a problem and you'd like Fiona's advice, email