Category Archives: Family

Five things you probably shouldn't say to someone who has had a miscarriage

For most people, miscarriage is a loss that society is not great at talking about. Here’s advice from experts on how to change that

When I asked my mum whether she had ever experienced a miscarriage, she said no. When I asked her a second time, she said yes. I spent the next four months trying to find out how a taboo can be so strong that even a doctor wouldn’t want to share the experience with her daughter. You can listen to what I discovered in the first episode of a new Guardian audio series, Strange Bird.

Before I spoke to people about pregnancy loss, I had only the vaguest sense of the experience – a stock image of a woman looking sad. The reality is so much more complex than that. There are females who, like me, think they haven’t experienced a miscarriage but could be mistaken. There are those who knew about the miscarriage and felt a profound trauma and there are those who felt relief.

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'She doesn't notice what I've done': five couples on how they split the housework

One of you makes the bed, the other’s a messy cook. Does it matter? Households from around the world share their dirty secrets

Oliver Burkeman on the housework gender gap

For more housework tales, listen to our Home Truths episode of The Story podcast

Stephen Driscoll, 45, a high school teacher, and Ai Driscoll, 38, who works in sales, live in Chiba prefecture, Japan. They have a four-year-old son and a baby due in March, live in a three-bedroom house, and don’t have a cleaner: “It’s not really done in Japan.”

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What do you say to a friend who has just lost a child? | Hadley Freeman

I used to think of babies dying as something the Victorians had to endure, not us. If only

A couple of weeks ago, I went to a memorial. It was for my friends’ two-year-old son. I don’t have much experience of memorials, but I think the format is that you’re supposed to talk about what a great life the deceased had, and oh the funny things he used to say, ha ha ha. But really, I thought, as I walked in on that bright cold day, what can you say at a two-year-old’s memorial, except isn’t life so goddamn unfair sometimes?

The story of my friends’ baby is not mine to tell, so all I will say is that, shortly after he was born, he became very sick, and then last month he died, still only a toddler. He was born just a few months before my twins, so his mother and I were pregnant together. I remember thinking at the time how, between us two women, we were cooking up three boys. How about that for some crazy mathematics? If there are words to describe how it feels to watch your lovely friends then go through their worst nightmare, while you lead the life they once imagined for themselves, then I’m afraid they’re beyond my reach; for the past two years, all my mind could manage was cliche.

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Source: gad

Every time I visit my family, they body-shame me

I have been through something similar, says Annalisa Barbieri. Try joking it off – or face the problem head on

I am being constantly body-shamed by my family, and it hurts.

I moved to the UK years ago and built up a good career. I am finishing my master’s degree part-time while working full-time; I have also recently started my first managerial role. Juggling my studies and a full-time job, means I go back to my country only once a year.

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Source: gad

Helping child witnesses: 'One girl gave evidence with a hamster on her lap'

They might be victims of rape, or witnesses to murder. But can they really be relied upon to tell the truth at trial?

In the playroom, perched high above suburban rooftops, it feels as if you’re sailing in a sturdy little boat. Outside, beyond the fields, the sea is a strip of hazy grey-blue that glows silver where it meets the sky. Here on the floor is the scattered residue of a child at play: plastic tractors and fire engines spilling from a big red box, half-done puzzles, doll’s house furniture left awry. On a shelf sit the smiling knitted figures of a policeman and circuit judge, the details meticulously rendered, right down to the judge’s red sash and purple-trimmed robes.

Through a pair of open doors in the adjoining interview room – the green room, they call it, on account of the carpet and the cushions – Ruth Marchant and a police detective sit in a pair of battered mock leather armchairs, reflecting on their afternoon’s work. The boy they have been talking to hasn’t made any allegations, but his reaction when the man it’s feared has abused him is mentioned – his erratic breathing, the way he starts to rock – makes the detective feel sure he has something to tell. Marchant wraps one skinny-jeaned leg over the other. “It’s there, isn’t it?” Beside them is a child’s version of their chairs, startlingly minuscule by comparison.

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Source: gad

Cornelia Parker: ‘When a deadline looms, you have to come up with the goods’

The sculptor and installation artist, 61, on anxiety dreams, eating with family and being blood sugary

I need eight hours of sleep, but I never get it, except at weekends. I have anxiety dreams, usually about putting up an exhibition and not having the work. Sometimes work comes to me in a dream. You can be gnawing away at something for months, years even, and suddenly wake up and it gels. I do 10 minutes of Pilates every morning, if I’m in the mood.

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A letter to… the ‘rude’ woman who saved my daughter’s life

‘Thank you for beeping your horn when you did, for seeing what I hadn’t seen’: the letter you always wanted to write

It was about seven years ago. I had just picked up my three-year-old daughter from nursery. I was weighed down with shopping, and with my daughter’s things. She scooted alongside me. We arrived at a pedestrian crossing and she pressed the button. In the distance, I heard sirens, told my daughter to wait and watched the police car approach.

Little did I know, as the green man flashed, that my daughter had begun to scoot into the road. I watched the police car speed towards us – that’s when you beeped your horn and waved frantically to me. My daughter was about a metre from the path of the police car, hidden from their view by your car.

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Source: gad

'I put my head on her knee and cried': what my 102-year-old friend taught me about grief

I presumed I would be looking after the centenarian women I met. But they looked after me

Edna lives just off the M4 in a tiny brick bungalow with a wheelchair ramp. I crawled to her front door. I didn’t knock; I went straight in and put my head on her knee, pushing the Zimmer frame out of the way. And I cried, and she was still and kind and said: “I think you will always miss him. You lost your son, dear.”

On the way to Edna’s I’d had to pull the car over so the animal in me could thrash the air and grope for my dead baby – a primal scream against the loss, the regret and the pain of it all. The burden shifted marginally, briefly almost felt manageable, when I arrived at her house.

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What can we learn from Marie Stopes's 1918 book Married Love?

A century on, its overheated language can seem quaint, but the book was a pioneering attempt to tackle a problem that is still unsolved

“More than ever today are happy homes needed,” declared crafty Marie Carmichael Stopes in the very first sentence of her sex manual Married Love, which turns 100 this year. Happy homes, her logic held, were the consequence of happy marriages and thus “the only secure basis for a present-day state”. So a book geared to teaching married couples how to have great sex (and thus a great marriage) was a service to the country.

Stopes’s was a clever argument and it worked, if not for the betterment of society, then certainly for her publisher. Married Love was a huge hit in Britain, selling out six printings within a few weeks of publication, as eager couples gobbled up its contents. The Americans were less keen on better sex for the sake of the state; they immediately banned the book, with US customs barring its import for more than two decades. By that time, Britons had bought more than half a million copies of the book and were far ahead of their prudish US counterparts in the quest to understand female sexual pleasure. They were also well on their way to “entering on a new and glorious state” based entirely on “the joyous buoyancy of their actions”.

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How do I find time for my family?

Don’t attempt to have your mind on work and children at the same time, says Sharmadean Reid

When my son, Roman, was born, I was a stylist, and I’d take him to meetings in a sling, schedule my work around his naps, and just carry on. When he was tiny, this was pretty easy; as he got older, it became less so. So my first piece of advice is don’t attempt to have your mind on work and children at the same time: it soon gets tough.

Instead, I decided to carve out dedicated family time and work time, and I now rule my life by a fairly tight calendar. If I am working from home and Roman wants me to play, I’ll explain that I need 10 more minutes, then the laptop is closed and he has my full attention.

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Source: gad