DEAR HARRIETTE: My son was invited to spend the weekend with one of his classmates at their country home. He is excited to go. He hasn't done anything like this before. As I get him ready, I'm wondering if I should give the family money for food or for whatever activities they may do together. I don't want to presume anything. My son is 12. What is the protocol here? -- Stepping Out, Schaumburg, Ill.
DEAR STEPPING OUT: Give your son money for the weekend. That way, if the family goes out and he needs money, he will have it.
Generally speaking, though, when a child is invited to spend the weekend with a family, the family takes care of the expenses such as food and other activities. If an expensive activity is part of the agenda and you are expected to foot the bill, the family should let you know in advance.
I think it's safe for you to relax and know that your child will be well cared for. Have him send a thank-you note upon his return. You should call to say "thank you" as well.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I've noticed that an older woman who goes to my church has gained a lot of weight, but she's still wearing her same clothes. The skirts are now hiking up in the back and drooping in the front. It's not a good look. I like her so much and want to help her, but I feel like she will think I am being rude. She is a pillar in our church.
We have a seniors group where we talk about ways we can support one another. I was thinking I might be able to bring up this topic at the group generically without speaking directly to her. What do you think about that approach? Or should I speak to her directly? I am a senior, too, so I know how challenging it can be to grow old gracefully. -- Fashion Faux Pas, Cincinnati
DEAR FASHION FAUX PAS: This is a tricky situation. I like your idea of the seniors group -- if you have more than one thing to mention that really does affect other members of your congregation. I say that because, if it's obvious this woman is the one with the fashion challenge, it will just call attention to her publicly, which could be hurtful.
If you think you can speak to this woman without judgment, go for it. Ask to speak with her privately. Tell her you have noticed something you want to bring to her attention, namely, that her skirts are fitting differently. Suggest that she go to the local tailor to have the hems evened out.
You can bring up this touchy subject by speaking about yourself. If you have had a fashion challenge in recent years, tell her how you handled it. Compliment her on her style and recommend that with a little altering, her outfits can be perfect once more.