Health advice: ‘My son was lovely as a baby but now he looks dreadful’

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Q I’m a single mum and I’m really worried about my son, who’s now 13.

He was gorgeous as a baby but recently he’s started to look dreadful, with greasy hair and bad spots. He’s growing so fast that I seem to have to buy him new school trousers every term. Do you think he’s got a health problem? Should he see a doctor?

A Reassure him – he’s normal. We all go through that awkward adolescent phase (think Kevin the teenager, right) when bits of our body grow at a disproportionate rate to the rest of us, so it’s probably just hormones. If you are worried, then getting a check-up is never a bad thing, but be prepared that this may be the time when he doesn’t want you in there with him any more. He’s growing up – and fast – and the spots and greasy hair are all a part of it. If the spots are acne, though, then the doctor may be able to help. But what your son really needs is love and the reassurance of knowing that what he is going through is both normal and temporary.


Q I am really fed up with my height. I’m just under 5ft.Even though I’m 33 years old, I still get asked for identification in pubs and when I want to buy alcohol in the supermarket and other shops. As a result, I’m constantly being teased and every once in a while, I snap and say something unpleasant. I know I’ve probably lost friends because of this, but why can’t people see that their teasing really hurts?

A Be truthful but keep it light-hearted. Most of us are unhappy about some part of our appearance and would like to change it, but most of us learn to accept ourselves as we are. I know that’s easier to say than to achieve, but I’m sure most of the teasing is a result of thoughtlessness rather than malice, so try to lighten up. The positive side of your “problem” is that as your friends age, you will probably still look younger than you are. You’ve lost friends by being aggressive so next time, try the truth. Tell people that it’s very unfair of them to tease you about something you can’t change – try to keep it light and defuse any tension in the exchange. That way you’ll come across as mature and sensible, which is how you want them to see you anyway.


Q I wish I could get my boyfriend, the father of my baby, to make a commitment. He lives with his parents rather than with me and he works for the family business. He stays with me once in a while but he says he won’t move in until I get myself sorted out. He’s given me a list of things he thinks I need to do, such as find a childminder, get a job, lose weight, etc. I know I’ve let myself go a bit since our little girl was born last year but everything on his list is really hard without any money to start off with. What can I do to keep us together?

A Tell him to face up to his responsibility. Were it not for your child, I would be telling you to run a mile from this man.

Unfortunately, though, he is the father of your child. You could continue to allow him to use you as a doormat, or you could tell him that it’s time he faced up to his responsibilities as a dad.

Living at home and working with his parents, he clearly has no idea just how hard it is to get a job in the real world.

He could come and look after his daughter while you start getting out and job hunting.

Once you are earning, he can help with the cost of a childminder, unless you can juggle childcare between the two of you.

The weight will come off when you are working and doing more, and when you’ve got back the self-esteem you’ve lost by letting this man walk all over you.