Sense & Sensitivity

DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m afraid my parents are about to get divorced. They have been arguing nonstop for a long time. Recently it has escalated. The crazy thing is, I just moved back in the house after graduating from college. I’m here for a short time until I can get on my feet. Who knew that I would walk into a war zone? They were fine before I left four years ago, but it’s different now. They don’t seem to notice me much, but I want to help. What can I do? -- In the Middle, Stamford, Connecticut

DEAR IN THE MIDDLE: Consider it a blessing you are at home during this stressful period. Be careful as you investigate what’s going on. Talk to each parent separately and ask what their intentions are. Find out if they think there is a chance or desire for repairing their marriage, or if they feel it’s over.

If either of your parents wants to stay together, suggest they go to counseling to work through their problems. If they both sound like they are ready to end their marriage, encourage them to take action rather than beat each other up emotionally as they are doing now. They owe each other the respect of dissolving their marriage with some sense of decorum. Tell your parents that what you are witnessing is scary and miserable for you. Ask them to treat each other better, even if they are about to sever their bond.


DEAR HARRIETTE: I work in corporate America at a job I have had for about 7 years. I do well there and am up for a promotion soon, but a woman who works on my floor could be standing in the way of that. She is basically my peer. For the past few months, she has been making a play for me. Whenever we are alone, she does little things like standing too close to me, sitting close by and hiking up her skirt, even touching me as she walks by. I have absolutely no interest in this woman. I also happen to have a serious girlfriend. I don’t want any mess. I don’t want this woman’s subtle actions to turn into anything more. Should I tell my boss? I don’t know how to handle it. -- The Dotted Line, Cincinnati

DEAR THE DOTTED LINE: You should speak to your boss about your concerns from the perspective of asking for advice. What you are experiencing happens rampantly to women in the workplace, and most businesses have some measures in place to help prevent overt sexist behavior. Ask your boss what he recommends you do to discourage this woman from continuing her advances.

You should also tell your human resources director about what has been happening so you are on the record as noting this discomfort. Be clear with your boss and with human resources that you enjoy your job and appreciate the opportunities you have had. Point out that you do not ever want to do anything that would jeopardize your integrity or that of the company.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)

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