Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: My 10-year-old daughter is musically inclined. This includes playing the violin and the recorder. Recently, she has been learning how to whistle. I don't know if they are formally teaching her this in music class, but she is whistling with some force and to a tune.

On the one hand, this shows her ability to use her breath effectively. But I am old school. I was always taught that it is bad manners for a girl to whistle, especially in public, at the dinner table and such.

I don't want to stifle my girl's creativity, but I do think that some places are inappropriate for whistling. What do you think? -- Anti-Whistler, Silver Spring, Md.

DEAR ANTI-WHISTLER: I beg you not to stifle your daughter's exploration. She is discovering the power and control she has over her body, including how she can create sound. As a budding musician, this is important in her development.

That said, you should also give her parameters. I, too, believe that whistling and singing at the dinner table are inappropriate. The same goes for whistling at a public function, such as in class or in church. Teach your daughter where you think it is OK to whistle, and when. Then encourage her to explore this new frontier within those parameters.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My father died a few years ago. We had a contentious relationship. Now I have learned that certain things I believed about him were wrong. I discovered that one of his siblings had done some unkind things that were attributed to my father and that definitely tainted our relationship.

I feel horrible. How can I forgive myself for so harshly judging my father? And what should I say to his sibling? -- Mortified, Jackson, Miss.

DEAR MORTIFIED: The good news is that you can offer your respect and apologies to your father, even though he has passed. You can forgive him for whatever he actually did to hurt you, and you can forgive yourself for not being kinder when he was alive. The act of forgiveness is powerful and can take time. This is especially true when the person who requires forgiveness is you.

If your father's sibling is of sound mind, meet with him or her. Tell this relative of your inner conflict -- namely, that you spent many years being angry with your dad, in part because of the piece of information that you recently learned is attributable to the relative. Ask why this relative never acknowledged doing whatever is in question. Tell your father's sibling how hurtful it was for you to believe that your father had been the culprit. Tell your relative that you intend to forgive him or her but that it may take time because you are hurting right now.

To support you through this tough time, you may want to read "Forgiveness Is a Choice" by Robert D. Enright. One great website that is filled with inspirational quotes and commentary is