Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: I took my daughter and her friend out for Halloween, and it started off great. We went trick-or-treating in a neighborhood that is famous for many of the residents participating with candy and decorations -- they even have a haunted house. This is where we had our problem: My daughter's friend freaked out when we began walking through the house, and she literally froze in her steps. Her screams were different from the normal screams in a place like this. She was scared to her core. I was able to guide her out of the haunted house, and we then went home. It was frightening for all of us, including my daughter. Also, my daughter didn't get to enjoy the haunted house. The girl's mother didn't join us because the girl wanted to go with just us. It would have helped a lot to have her mother there. Do you think I should require that a parent come with any child that joins us next year? Our children are 9 years old. -- Spoiled Fun, New York City

DEAR SPOILED FUN: You named it. Especially for an event like Halloween where children and adults in costumes are milling about at night, is it smart to have more than one adult chaperoning the children. As you experienced, if there is an attraction that one child is against, it is much easier to manage each child's expectations if you have more than one adult in the group. In the future, I would require that each child have a parent in attendance.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband complains about something every day. From the moment that my son and I wake up, he has something to say about what we are doing or not doing. When he comes home from work there it is again: something we did wrong. I am fed up. My son is dragging around. When I bring this up to my husband, he says I am being too sensitive. I may be sensitive, but I am certain that there is good in our lives, along with whatever we are doing wrong in his eyes. How can I get him to see that? -- Fed Up, Chicago

DEAR FED UP: When you can carve out a private moment, sit down with your husband and check in with him. Ask him about his day, about what's going on in his life. He sounds frustrated and stressed. It may be that something is happening with him that has nothing to do with you or your son, but, unfortunately, you are experiencing the brunt of his short temper. See if you can learn what's troubling him.

Also, do tell your husband that you are concerned that he doesn't notice the good things that occur in your family. Point out that you want your son to feel loved and supported rather than criticized all the time. Let him know that while he may not realize it, he often picks at each of you. Ask him to work with you to begin to notice and celebrate one thing each day about each other. This will help all of you to come together in a positive way. You can lead the charge in pointing out the good things. Start by noticing something great about him!