Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: I have three siblings. We're all good kids, thanks to my amazing, supportive and loving parents. One brother and sister had their rebellious moments, but no family is perfect. Well, none but my friend's family (in his opinion). He is close with my family, and he recently made a negative remark about my parent's parenting style. He asked me why my parents didn't discipline my siblings, implying that if they did, my brother and sister wouldn't have rebelled. I was infuriated with his comment. Why did he say this, and why am I feeling such anger toward him? -- Undone, Cincinnati

DEAR UNDONE: The people closest to you are the ones who can hurt you the most, even when they don't mean to. It is easy to look at someone else's life and make value judgments. No parent is perfect, so it is certain that your parents made some mistakes along the way. That is life.

What is also true is that even the best parents cannot prevent their children from making mistakes and sometimes rebelling. Part of growing up is making decisions, not all of which may be sound.

Forgive this man for his words. It is doubtful that he intended to hurt you. If he brings it up again, though, tell him that he hurt your feelings and that you do not want to discuss your family with him further. Be there for your siblings and attempt to help them through their rough spots. Also, tell your parents and ask for their guidance.

DEAR HARRIETTE: Because of the government shutdown, I've been out of work. I have a wife and son to support. We have money saved, but if the shutdown continues, we are going to be in trouble. What can I do in the meantime to be more productive? -- Lost, Washington, D.C.

DEAR LOST: I pray that by the time this column is printed, the shutdown will be over. If not, here is some advice that may help you. I daresay it can be beneficial in any case for people who find themselves out of work.

Be proactive and contact all of your creditors to alert them that you may have to pay your debts late due to the shutdown. Ask for leniency from each of them. For example, you can ask that late fees be waived. You can even ask to skip a month's payment of your utilities or other bills. Some of your creditors may agree to revised terms.

Make a list of your skills. What exactly can you do that others may need? Do you know a trade? Are there local businesses that need temporary support? Get creative as you peruse the landscape in your neighborhood to see where there is a need. If you have the skill that can fill that need, go for it and proactively present yourself as the solution to the problem.

Politically, write to your member of Congress and to the president to express your concerns about the shutdown. Ask them to resolve their differences so that your family and so many others will stop hurting.