Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: I received a phone call from my uncle a few weeks ago. While we were talking on the phone, my uncle expressed concerns that his 40-year-old nephew (me) is not in a relationship. He mentioned that my family expressed the same sentiments. I happily informed my uncle that I have gone back to college to obtain a degree in business management, and I am not able to balance a relationship and college at the same time. I calmed my uncle's anxieties about my relationship status for the moment.

I would like my family to support me in my academic endeavors as opposed to their being concerned about my personal life. How can I set parameters for my family regarding my personal life? -- The College Student, Queens, N.Y.

DEAR COLLEGE STUDENT: You may want to schedule a family meeting where you can talk face-to-face. Present the plan that you are currently living out to your family. Describe your intention for your education, and give them a sense of what you imagine for yourself in two years, in four years, in ten years. If you believe you do want to be in a relationship down the road, tell them. Make it clear that education is your focus right now and you want to give it your all so that you will create opportunities for yourself that will help to expand your future choices. Ask for their support and trust.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My children are at the age where they can participate in team sports. My brother has agreed to take them to their athletic endeavors whenever I have to work on the weekends. My brother and I were once athletes in college, and now we work in the finance industry for separate companies. Our jobs are very demanding, and there's no room for error. After our workday, we usually watch some sporting event. We yell at the TV if the referee makes a bad call, and we cheer when an athlete makes a spectacular play. I do not want my brother or myself to make a scene if my children's referee makes a bad call or if the coaches decide to pull my children out of the game because they made a mistake. I live in a suburban community where the parents actually fought the coaches and referees for making bad calls against their children. Do you have any suggestions on how to stay calm while watching the kids play? -- Helicopter Mom, Brooklyn, N.Y.

DEAR HELICOPTER MOM: Talk to your brother about managing emotions during your children's games. It is natural to get excited about your kids' games. Many parents and family members do yell out during games. You can do that, but you need to be clear about boundaries. Stay in the area where you are seated. Do not defy the referee. Do not go down to the field. Just because other attendees lose their cool does not mean that you have to follow suit. Remember that you are an example for your children.