Dear Rosanna: 'My sister's kids are dangerously fat - is it time for me to say something?'
Question: My sister's kids are getting seriously fat and she does not see it at all. The three of them are under seven and they eat sweets constantly and drink sugary drinks often.
My mam and I danced around the topic earlier this year but we're just deeply uncomfortable about approaching it in any way, as we reckon all hell could break loose. The thing is, I mind the kids a fair bit for my sister and I refuse to give them crap to eat.
They moan for a while but I soon get them involved in making nice healthy treats and, all of a sudden, they forget about the packaged crap she feeds them.
They are going to be obese if they keep going down this road and that scares me, but what's even scarier is that when I collect them from school, I notice that they are far from alone in the chubby stakes and that all of the kids are getting bigger.
They are far too young to understand what's going on and the future implications for their health and self-esteem, but my sister and her husband are grown ups who were not fed this kind of food and should know better.
Should I say something, and if so, what? Also, I don't have children of my own so I know that will be thrown in my face but I care deeply about my nieces and nephew, and I think someone needs to look out for them.
I fully appreciate and understand your point of view because the levels of childhood obesity and illness, like type 2 diabetes, are growing at a frightening rate in this country. Some overweight kids even start to show the early signs of heart disease in childhood, which would have been virtually unheard of in previous generations.
The quantities of junk food easily available to them are certainly part of the problem, as is junk food advertising. But parents also need to be educated on what to feed their children.
I think that you're absolutely doing the right thing by feeding your niece and nephew with healthy food and helping to develop their palate away from processed junk.
But it's important that your sister realises that the health of her kids is of paramount importance to their future, and if I were you, I would definitely explain her about the necessity of feeding them fresh whole foods. It's as much about them reaching a healthy weight as it is about helping to protect them from colds and flus, and enabling them to focus properly at school.
Gently explain your concerns for her children, and make suggestions of the types of foods and meals they should be eating. Help her to make the right choices for them.
My brother has long been the apple of our parents' eyes and they never tire of telling everyone how wonderful he is - he's ticked all their boxes while they consider me something of an oddity.
In my heart, I'm happy to be true to myself, but I would be lying if I didn't admit that I do feel jealous of his golden-boy status - even though we are grown up and, more importantly, are very close to one another.
It almost hurts on a physical level when I hear my mother go on about the latest wonderful thing he has done - she glows with pride when talking about him, whereas I just end up rowing with her if we spend too much time in each other's company.
I want to let these feelings go - talking to my family will not help as I've tried this over the years.
They either don't understand what I am saying or they just want to maintain a status quo by ignoring it all.
How can I let the resentment go as I think it's holding me back in some way. In reality, I don't need their approval, but there is some childish yearning for it.
This seems to happen quite frequently in families, and often without it being as obvious to others as it is to the person who feels left out.
It's a tricky one to deal with too, as you want to be able to get your feelings across in a mature way without sounding petty or jealous.
But it's clearly affecting your relationship with your brother and your parents, and it may begin to affect the family dynamic if it continues, which might further worsen the situation.
You may want to gently raise the topic the next time the family is together, by making a light-hearted joke about how your brother always seems to be treated as the favourite. It's important that you make your point clear without sounding childish, so it's up to you to pick the appropriate time and place.
If the opportunity arises, I would also have a quiet chat with your mum about the situation, and I'm sure that she'd be horrified to learn that you feel second best to your brother.
I've been married for 15 years and I don't think I can hack it any more. My wife is lovely, a good person, but I am so bored. Every year that goes by, we become more 'settled' - like comfy chairs.
Truthfully, if we had no kids I would leave her - I just feel like I've outgrown her and we never have sex anymore. But my son and daughter would be devastated and I don't think I could live with that.
My wife hasn't got a clue how I feel but I don't even see the point in talking about it because what can talking do when I just want to be free of her?
I'm sorry to hear you feel like this, and it must cause tensions in the home as it can't be easy to conceal your true feelings all the time. But it takes two people to make a relationship work, so you need to ask yourself what you have done recently to spice it up.
Do you suggest fun things to do with your wife or ever initiate sex? She may feel exactly the same as you do, but hides her feelings for the sake of the kids. You need to put yourself in her position and think about how she feels too.
You married her and you have a responsibility towards her as her husband. You certainly can't just up and leave without talking to her either.
So I suggest that you take a deep breath and share your feelings with her. If I were you, I would make an effort with the marriage and don't just give up because it feels like the easiest solution.
I'm sure that she has also noticed the state of the marriage and would like to come up with a solution too.
Act like an adult and speak about your issues rather than running away.