DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a 17-year-old girl. My mother and I have been arguing a lot lately. It seems like every time I see her, we get into a fight about something.
Recently, my mother complained that the smell of my perfume was giving her a headache. She says this about every perfume I wear. Or my mom gets mad if she asks me to do a chore and I don't do it right away because I'm doing homework or I already have plans or commitments. If I don't do what she asks immediately, I get grounded.
How do I stop this without flat-out avoiding her? -- Chored-Out, Scarsdale, N.Y.
DEAR CHORED-OUT: It's natural for teens and moms to have moments of friction and frustration. The best thing you can do is to realize that both of you have heated emotions about certain things. How you handle them is what's important. It helps to put yourself in your mother's shoes for a minute.
Your mother could be sensitive to fragrance, especially if it's new for you to wear it. You could apply less perfume or not wear it at all while you are at home. It also could be that your mother associates perfume with adulthood, and that the smell of it makes her uncomfortable about how you are blossoming into a young woman. If that's the case, your mother's reaction is more emotional than rational, and all you can do is ride it out. Over time, she may soften to the idea.
As for your chores: There's no way you reached 17 years old without knowing what your basic chores are. That means your mother shouldn't have to remind you of them or urge you to complete them. Even if she adds a chore to your schedule, do it. If you complete the task and then jump back into your homework or previously scheduled activity, you will earn a lot of respect from your mother, which will likely earn you more freedom. It really is worth it.
DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my friends, whose daughter is very close to mine, recently hit a financial rough spot. The family needs to move to a different town to cut costs, and my daughter has been asking a lot of questions about why they are moving. Until now, I have been skirting the issue, but I have to tell her something. What should I tell my daughter so that I am not lying to her but also do not embarrass my friends on this private issue? -- Awkward, Seattle
DEAR AWKWARD: I think you should speak to your friend and ask for her wisdom. It may be uncomfortable, but I imagine your friend would appreciate being able to provide the narrative for what's happening in her life.
I recently talked to a woman at my daughter's school whose family is doing the very same thing. This mom explained to her children and to other friends that they were moving to make a lifestyle change. She made it positive, so everyone is excited for them.