My 10-year-old has started sleeping in my bed. Am I wrong to allow it?

There may be an issue she isn’t discussing – she may not even be aware of it, says Annalisa Barbieri Before lockdown, my 10-year-old daughter slept in her own bed every night without any problems. She is an intelligent, happy girl, albeit a bit shy. She eats well, has good friendships, and loves life. We […]

I am not attractive to others. Would life be better if I made more effort?

Looking stylish is a smokescreen, says Annalisa Barbieri, where and why did you learn to be quiet and invisible? I am a 63-year-old woman who, about 10 years ago, realised I am not seen as physically attractive by others. I have had a few partners in my life, though I didn’t settle with any of […]

My soulmate married someone else. Am I wasting my life waiting for him?

He has been entirely selfish and you deserve better, says Annalisa Barbieri. It is time to move on I live with a man I don’t love. But I once loved a man I met at university. We had a few nice holidays together and cosy meals out. He always paid for everything, which made me […]

I want to move back to the UK. How can I convince my husband to give it a try? | Annalisa Barbieri

You both need to say how you really feel – and be heard, says Annalisa Barbieri. Only then can you work out what happens next I met my husband at university, while he was studying in the UK. He returned to his home in mainland Europe and we had a long-distance relationship for some years […]

My in-laws are manipulating our children. How do I stop them? | Annalisa Barbieri

Have faith in your children. They won’t be turned against you so easily, says Annalisa Barbieri I am worried my in-laws are trying to turn my children against me. They are mainly civil on the surface, but they’ve never liked me and I have had years of passive-aggressive comments, in particular from my mother-in-law. My […]

A younger man has befriended my grandmother. I worry he’s a threat

If she trusts him more than family, she’s at risk, says Annalisa Barbieri. The authorities can help, but you need to stay vigilant I fear my 85-year-old grandmother is at risk. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease two years ago and lives alone in sheltered housing. She refuses to accept the diagnosis or any related […]

I’ve fallen out with my mother over her racist views. Should I reach out?

Fear will be at the root of it – so try to work out what she is afraid of, says Annalisa Barbieri I have always found many of my political and personal views to be at odds with those of family. Over the years, I’ve tried to challenge them gently about issues such as homophobia […]

My sister’s getting married. How can I go if I’m afraid of my stepdad?

With the wedding some way off, maybe now is the time to talk to your sister honestly, says Annalisa Barbieri My younger sister has just got engaged, and I’m really happy for her and her partner. The difficulty is, I’m not sure I can go to her wedding, which is still some way off. I […]

I left my baby to cry at night for a week – is it my fault she’s an anxious child?

You judge yourself harshly, says Annalisa Barbieri. Make peace with the past and be a more confident mother I am the mother of a four-year-old (due to go to school next month) and a 20-month-old, both girls. I am quite anxious and highly strung. I have always set very high standards for myself and had […]

My sister says she doesn’t want to see me. Should I give up on her? | Annalisa Barbieri

Your mother caused this rift, says Annalisa Barbieri. But if your sister really doesn’t want to be in contact, you should listen My childhood was not a happy one. My mother was a narcissistic and toxic person who liked everyone but my older sister, my father and me. She was beautiful, smart and the life […]

Why does my boyfriend make jokes when I try to discuss our future?

Put the emphasis on conversation, not confrontation, says Annalisa Barbieri. And invite him to spell out what he does and doesn’t want from life My boyfriend and I have had a lot of serious conversations about marriage and kids, as those are things we want in the next two years. We are both single parents […]

I feel ashamed that my marriage is over: how can I tell our young son?

Children pick up on undercurrents, says Annalisa Barbieri. Look at this as a new chapter, but be clear in agreeing boundaries After 22 years together (half my life), my husband and I have decided to separate. We’ve had extensive therapy, we love each other and want the best for each other, but unfortunately, the romantic […]

I’m terrified that I will die, leaving my son. How can I cope?

Big life transitions are hard, says Annalisa Barbieri. Maybe you are worried about him leaving you as he heads into adulthood I’m 54 and happily married, with a 15-year-old son. In the past, I didn’t have maternal feelings, but since having my son, I feel as if an extreme emotional switch has been turned on. […]

I struggle to make and keep friends. What am I doing wrong?

Your childhood neglect is at the heart of this, says Annalisa Barbieri. Try to give that little girl in you what she needs now, rather than hoping your friends will I have a wonderful husband, happy children, good health and a close relationship with my family. But I’ve always struggled with friendship. Every time life […]

I’m anxious about returning to the world after lockdown. Is this normal?

Taking back control of our lives can be daunting, says Annalisa Barbieri – but try not to be too cautious I’m starting to see friends and neighbours who are anxious and fearful about going out – and for a while I felt it, too. Not so much because they fear catching the virus (although that […]

Is my husband’s affair linked to my childhood abuse? | Annalisa Barbieri

Your trauma is not to blame for your husband’s infidelity, says Annalisa Barbieri. Therapy will help you focus on your own needs When I was 12, my 19-year-old cousin started to sexually abuse me, showing up at my house most afternoons. I worshipped him, so I didn’t know how to say no. I do not […]

Should I give my brother financial advice or mind my own business?

In families people end up playing roles, says Annalisa Barbieri. Look at what’s happening beneath the surface I am close to my younger brother and we speak at least once a week. These exchanges usually include his referring to money problems. He and his wife are in their 40s, on good salaries, have two young […]

How can I overcome past traumas while I still live with my mother?

A recent sexual assault and your shaky start in life means there’s a lot going on. It’s time to start attending to your needs, says Annalisa Barbieri I am 31 and have moved back in with my mother. I didn’t finish university, but had jobs throughout my 20s, which were fulfilling. However, I never stayed […]

My boyfriend has sexual kinks I find abhorrent. How can we resolve our differences?

You need to have an honest conversation, says Annalisa Barbieri, because if you feel pressured into doing something sexual, is it still consensual? My boyfriend and I have been together for a year and a half. We enjoy a very active sex life. However, some of the things he is sexually attracted to are just […]