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Secret torment of the boy who never smiles.

DEAR LINDA

I AM a teacher and I recently commented to a colleague that a child at school never smiled. I was told he had been sexually abused by his father who had served a prison sentence for the crime. However, the father was now home again, living with the mother and child.

The mother is undergoing counselling because she feels so guilty for what happened, but how could she have let the dad back? The other teachers suspect the child is still being abused, but we all feel powerless. Is there anything we can do to find out and to make sure that he is being protected? I cry every time I think about what he has to go home to.

The best thing a teacher can do is to make it easy for the child to get counselling help, through Childline, not to try to intervene themselves. That means sensitively acknowledging there may be a problem and offering the child the opportunity to use a phone in a safe private room, where he can talk to a Childline counsellor without being interrupted.

Teachers are just too busy to deal with the nitty-gritty of a horrendous problem like this - but they should never be too busy to look for signs of abuse in a child and to recognise one who is quietly desperate.

This young man might feel that if he "talks" he is betraying his family and the pain of that may be hard to bear.

Put him in touch with someone who may be able to make the situation more bearable and you will have done him an incredible favour. However, if the child admits to the teacher that he or she has been sexually abused, the teacher must tell the Head and alert all other agencies to protect the child. Call my Telephone Helpline, 'Are You Worried A Child Is Being Sexually Abused?' on: 0930 563 093. The Childline number is: 0800 1111.

I simply can't measure

up to my wife's sex toy

DEAR LINDA

I HAVE a small penis and have never satisfied my wife during intercourse except by manual stimulation and oral sex. She has long preferred to use a vibrator rather than making love to me, as she is knows she will have an orgasm. I feel humiliated and inadequate as my wife constantly puts me down on other matters as well.

I often wish I had a woman who wanted me for me and what I can offer, not for what I can't. I don't suppose there is anything that can be done, but I wanted to get it off my chest anyway.

CLITORAL stimulation by hand or vibrator is an important part of a loving sexual relationship for many women.

Your wife has raised her expectations of penis size by using a vibrator instead of a penis. It is impossible for any man to match what a toy can do and the sex toy industry has a lot to answer for!

A counsellor may help you find out why else your wife is humiliating you. Your local RELATE Couple Counselling Service would be able to arrange this.

Penoplasty, which costs from pounds 2,500 to pounds 3,500, can widen and lengthen your penis by up to two inches. It is no worse than a hernia operation and recovery takes about a week to 10 days. But it doesn't guarantee an improved love-life.

Children will suffer if you leave their loving father

DEAR LINDA

I HAVE three children of eight, two and nine months. Over the last year my partner and I haven't been getting on too well and I have been seeing a wonderful man at work. He now wants me and the children to move in with him. I know my partner loves me and can offer me security, but I can't get over my feelings for the new man as I know he would make me happy.

IT SOUNDS like your man really loves you and the children. They need their father, and if you throw everything away on an unknown you will be depriving them of him. Although we owe it to our kids to work things out with our partners if possible, people often take the easy option without thinking about the consequences. No matter how many arrangements are made to see their "weekend parent" (usually the Dad), children always feel the loss. Nothing ever really compensates for that and the grief stays with them. The grass over the other side of that fence is never as green as you think.

Is it normal to sleep

with older women?

DEAR LINDA

I AM 16 and do not find girls of the

same age attractive. I much prefer older women. Recently, I slept with a 30-year-old mother of two. If my secret got out, my life would not be worth living. Am I normal?

YOU obviously feel safer with older women. Maybe that is because you can have fun without any commitment. It's quite normal to try to learn about sex from an experienced person, but don't let it stand in the way of meeting someone nearer your own age. Friendship and respect are as much a part of a relationship as sex - you certainly don't seem to have a sexual problem.

Your girl won't give up smoking until you do too DEAR LINDA

I HAVE two children of eight and 10. The other day the youngest asked me why I smoked as it was bad for me. Then the 10-year- old said that she had started smoking. To call her bluff I gave her one and she inhaled deeply and blew it through her nostrils.

Since then, she has been smoking about five a day and if I don't let her have them she gets very bad-tempered and threatens to go and live with her dad who left me about four years ago.

I've been smoking since I was 13 and my family and friends say that if it keeps her happy I should let her smoke.

One day, we all went out with my sister and her kids and she smoked 12 at least. Should I make her stop? She is better behaved if I let her carry on.

YOUR eight-year-old has got it about right. If you have a child who smokes, the only tool you have is for you both to give up. (Children with parents who smoke are more likely to start than those with non-smoking parents).

Ask for nicotine patches or the new Nicorette inhalator (like a plastic cigarette) from your pharmacist and maybe go to a "give up" group.

Show your daughter that you really do disapprove...if she is smoking at 11, what happens at 13 when she wants to have sex, or try drugs? Children are just not mature enough to make these sorts of decisions.

Why not offer her a treat or a small present if she stops? The bottom line is there is no point falling out about it.

She may also still be hurt about her dad leaving and she may want to talk about that, rather than getting back at you through smoking!

As parents, we are there to guide our children. We can't always get it right, but we can and should make our point of view known.

I'm so glad I got away from this violent monster

DEAR LINDA

I STILL live in dread of my ex finding me. I left him after 39 years of being kicked, beaten and abused. I had a beautiful home, but thought that if I only had about 10 years of life left, I'd rather be on my own.

I have my dog and only meet other people on "walkies", but however lonely I am - and loneliness is a dreadful thing - it's better than what I left.

ABUSE of a partner can be physical or emotional... either way it is unforgivable. If the woman (it is usually a woman) suffers in silence, she is giving her partner permission to bully and beat her. Thankfully you got away, but only after a lifetime of indignity. Maybe your courage will help other women to make the break earlier.

The first step is to recognise the situation and that it is unlikely to change. Then tell someone you trust and gather information. Congratulate yourself at every step.

Don't blame yourself. He has no right to beat you, it is a criminal offence. For further information ring: Refuge Domestic Violence Crisis Line on: 0990 995 443. (Calls are charged at the national rate). Also call my Helpline, 'Is Your Partner Beating You?'on: 0930 563 094.

Where can I meet feminine lesbians?

DEAR LINDA

I FEEL so lonely and isolated. I am a pretty, feminine, fashion-conscious woman, but I despair of finding a partner because I am a lesbian. There are no gay and lesbian clubs or groups in my town and none of my friends are gay. How can I meet other feminine lesbians?

THINK of something that really interests you just to widen your circle of friends. But the only guarantee of meeting gays is at a gay club and there are more in big cities. Get Gay Times to give you ideas. If you like walking, ring Julie at the Gay Outdoors Club (for women) on: 01509 506 971.

Call Linda's lines

Is your man being unfaithful?..................................0930 563 088 Are you going off sex?.........................................0930 563 089 Dealing with the first few weeks after childbirth......0930 563 090

Is my child taking drugs?........................................ 0930 563 091

Dealing with impotence.........................................0930 563 092

Are you worried a child is being sexually abused?...0930 563 093

Is your partner beating you?................................0930 563 094
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Title Annotation:Features
Author:Wolfe, Linda
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 3, 1998
Words:1626
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