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Bullying stepdad gave me a fear of dentists; Ask Fiona.

Byline: Fiona

Q I WAS the victim of bullying by my stepfather. I was hit as a young boy but my mother, who lived in fear of this monster, never intervened.

My life was hell until the day he died but he made me weak and there are times I wish my life would end.

When I was 16 my mother took me to the dentist and he came. I got upset and he stormed out. To this day, I have never seen a dentist and have serious problems with my teeth. I asked my GP for a referral to the hospital but he wouldn't help me. GC A I am sorry to hear you had such an unhappy childhood but this is something you can get over. Your stepfather isn't there any more.

With the right help and support, the scars he left will heal.

You could ask your GP for counselling but as it sounds as if you don't have a very good relationship. You may prefer to speak to someone else.

Mind is one of the leading mental health charities working to help people experiencing mental distress.

The helpline (MindinfoLine) offers confidential help on a range of issues.

You can call on 0845 766 0163.

There are Mind associations throughout England and Wales offering help including support with housing, counselling, befriending, advocacy, employment and training.

Every journey starts with a first step.

That might be to find a sympathetic dentist and tackling the problem with your teeth. Or it might be picking up the phone and talking to one of the organisations who can help.

I am sure you will begin to find a sense of achievement that will convince you life is worth living.

Q I FEEL very sad because my family seem to take little interest in my kids. They do everything for my sister, but nobody ever comes to our house.

I'm the black sheep of the family.

My wife is fed up and says our kids need grandparents. But I can't control what they do. I don't understand why I get blamed when it's out of my hands.

I've told my mother but she doesn't listen. I wish I had a better family but I don't, and I know they don't like my partner. I love her and I love my kids. I wish that were enough. AG

A I find it strange your partner should blame you for something so obviously out of your hands. Is this a clue as to why your family don't like her? Is it they recognise she makes life impossible for you?

You say you are the black sheep but is the problem more of your family's feelings about her than you?

Perhaps you should try inviting your parents to visit. Ask them for Sunday lunch or tea, and encourage them to get to know their grandchildren better.

If you and your partner make more effort, your parents may feel welcome.

For some reason, they don't at the moment and that has to change.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Feb 10, 2009
Words:507
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