Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Blast From the Past May Upset Sister

DEAR HARRIETTE: My sister's high school boyfriend just contacted me via Facebook and asked me about my sister. He said he wants to be in touch with her after something like 40 years. My sister is single now, but I don't know if I should connect them. This dude is seriously a blast from the past. My sister is kind of weird about inviting people into her life -- just bringing it up may start an argument. She is pretty reclusive these days. That's part of why I thought I might connect them. Maybe he would make her smile. Do you think I should set up a blind date kind of thing for them? Should I just tell her and see if she's interested? Or should I leave it alone? -- Sisterly, Salt Lake City, Iowa

DEAR SISTERLY: Do not surprise your sister with a blind date. That would be awkward for everyone and could easily backfire. Be respectful to her and let her know that her high school beau wants to be in touch. Tell her how he reached out, and suggest that you share her phone number or email address with him. Being in touch does not necessarily mean dating or even seeing each other. It can mean an email or phone call. She may be open to something that simple.

If she says yes, great. Make the connection. Because she may decline, do not promise anything to the ex-beau. If she does decline, tell him you will deliver the message and if she wants to, she will reach out.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My son just informed me that he wants me to get him some really expensive earphones for Christmas. He is 10. I know that he and his friends listen to music on their iPods, but I think the price is excessive. He pointed out that he would be happy with that gift alone if I chose to buy it for him rather than the range of things we usually buy. He has a point. I definitely spend more than the $100+ that the headphones cost, but I just usually buy a lot of things. Should I honor his request? It still seems like a lot of money. -- Unsure, Washington, D.C.

DEAR UNSURE: If it is true that you spend generously on your son's holiday gifts and he is crystal clear about his one desire, you may want to consider it. Part of the experience that parents should have with their children is teaching them about choice and value. He wants an expensive item. Explain how you would expect him to take care of it and that if he breaks or loses it you will not replace it. Your choice to buy him a broad range of things does not seem to be his choice now. This means that you and he have to be disciplined. If you tell him that he can have only that one item or that one and a few extras, stick to that. Explain to him that this is how you can honor his desire. Teach him the power of choice by being a parent of your word.