DEAR HARRIETTE: I was recently accepted into the college that was my top choice. My cousin, who is a year older than me, applied there last year and did not get in. She really wanted to go, and I know she probably is upset that I got in and she didn't.
I am definitely going to this school, but I don't want my cousin to feel bad or feel like she is not as smart as me. What should I say to her? -- Family Matters, Salt Lake City
DEAR FAMILY MATTERS: Your cousin may have hurt feelings that actually don't have anything to do with you. She may still be upset that she didn't get into the school of her dreams. Because you are her family and close to her, it may feel to her as if her nose is being rubbed in it. It's important to remember that this is not what you are doing.
I suggest that you speak to her. Tell her your good news and acknowledge that you are excited about going to this college. Let her know that you remain so sorry that she was not invited to attend.
Don't go into the reasons why she may not have been accepted. Colleges take many factors into consideration when they admit students, and being smart is only part of it.
Encourage your cousin to do her best at whatever college she is attending. And stay in touch when you go to school. If she ever wants to visit, invite her to come to the campus.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a high school teacher, but I look young enough to be a student. I think that because of this, lots of students treat me like I am their friend, not their teacher.
I like to think that I am a progressive teacher, and I love my students and want them to feel comfortable with me. But I also want them to respect me and remember that there are boundaries between us as students and teachers that are not the same as between friends. How do I tell my students this? -- Looking Young, Seattle
DEAR LOOKING YOUNG: It is possible for you to have a congenial relationship with your students that remains professional.
Regarding your appearance, you may want to change your style of dress. Instead of wearing casual clothing (if you do), wear professional attire. That will make you look more mature and will say to the students that you mean business. I advocate for all teachers to dress professionally no matter what their age, because it shows students a style of dressing that they can emulate as they grow up.
Regarding your behavior, you must teach your students to respect you and the boundaries you have created. That means acknowledging them when they behave appropriately and making them suffer consequences when they don't. Constantly let them know what the boundaries are and how they should talk to you and one another. Over time, if you enforce your rules, they will follow.