Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: What is the best way to handle it if asked to remove your shoes when entering someone's residence and you are uncomfortable (or unprepared) to bare your feet? This happened to me the other day when I went to a party. Never mind the fact that I had worn some fabulous shoes and they were part of my outfit. I am short, so I always wear heels, and this made me feel even shorter once I took my shoes off. Plus, my feet weren't properly pedicured. I felt so uncomfortable, but I decided to stay anyway. I really didn't want to take my shoes off, though. -- Shoe Freak, Racine, Mich.

DEAR SHOE FREAK: It is understandable that when invited to a party you wouldn't be expected to remove your shoes in order to attend. It is also true that many people have a no-shoes policy in their homes. In those cases, it is kind of the host either to let guests know in advance that they will have to remove their shoes or provide slippers for them to wear. In this way, guests don't have to feel caught off-guard.

When no provisions are arranged and you find yourself in a situation as you did, be a good sport, tuck your shoes away and go for it. Chances are you are not the only one feeling a little awkward, at least at first.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have three children who are in their 20s. I feel guilty because I never made them become self-sufficient. I spoiled them because I gave them anything and everything their hearts desired as children. Now that they are adults, my children are malfunctioning in society. How do I reset the boundaries with my children after years of spoiling them? -- Bad Mom, Brooklyn, N.Y.

DEAR BAD MOM: Call a family meeting and admit your mistake. Apologize to your children for not teaching them budgeting, boundaries, limitations, etc. Talk candidly with them about how you showered them with everything they wanted without teaching them that hard work is what allowed you to be able to do that.

From the position of tough love, point out to them where you think you led them astray. Be specific about behaviors that you have observed in them that are not serving them. Offer to enroll them in a money management class. You can also purchase books for them that they can read, such as "The Money Book for the Young, Fabulous and Broke," by Suze Orman, or "Why Didn't They Teach Me This in School: 99 Personal Money Management Principles to Live by," by Carey Siegel.

Finally, don't beat up yourself too much. Many young people flounder in their 20s. This is the time when they begin to "find themselves." You can provide guidance, but know that they have to make their own mistakes and figure out how to fend for themselves. Yes, you can help, but this is their time to accept responsibility for their lives.