Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Recruit School's Help With Truant Son

DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm at my wit's end with my oldest son. I received a phone call from his high school guidance counselor saying he has missed four weeks of school. I'm really disappointed in him, because I thought he was going to school.

I leave the house at 6:30 in the morning to go to work, and my son doesn't have to leave for school until 8:30. When I questioned him about not attending school for the past four weeks, he told me that he was in his classes and that his teachers did not check his attendance.

I do not like people lying to me. I really wanted to wring his neck, but I refrained from such thoughts. I'm tired, and I do not know what to do to help. Any ideas? -- Mommy Dearest, Jackson, Miss.

DEAR MOMMY DEAREST: You have to get to the truth. Since the school contacted you about a prolonged absence, it's likely that your son was, indeed, absent.

Since you cannot be there, you need an advocate at the school to be your eyes and ears. See if the counselor can help you. Talk to him or her about ways to support your son. Figure out what interests your son about school and attempt to lure him to be present with those things.

Keep talking to your son about his future and about how his choices today will definitely affect his options for tomorrow.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I agree with your response to the college graduate (producer) whose old friends (moochers) were living with him while they were trying to "get on their feet." He was getting tired of it and needed more space, etc. Your advice was that he set a date for them to move out and be as helpful as possible until that time.

How different is that from the welfare, Medicaid and public assistance housing folks who have been mooching off the government and taxpayers (producers) for years at the expense of others? It is really the same thing, but on a smaller scale. And it's getting worse, because the moochers are hyperbreeding and causing a continuation of the problem with no hope of it changing or slowing down. I'd love to discuss this with you. How do we stop this insanity? -- Small Producer, Memphis, Tenn.

DEAR SMALL PRODUCER: This is obviously a controversial topic, and I am not an expert on it.

I see your point. I do not think that anyone should assume that someone else -- be it a parent, a friend or the government -- will take care of them forever. But I also firmly believe in supporting those in need. I feel that it is an important part of humanity.

I appreciate the public assistance programs that our government offers and know they serve millions of people who otherwise would be in dire straits. At the same time, I firmly believe that each of us has the duty to do our best to improve our lives and become independent.

I know many stories of incredibly successful people who at one point needed and used the services of the government to tide them over while they repositioned themselves. I believe that public assistance is good. I do not believe it should be guaranteed for life.