Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: I wanted to say something in regard to the letter from "Unhappy Parent."

My son migrated to the U.S. from the Caribbean when he was 7 years old. He was picked on and bullied and had problems adjusting because he spoke differently. I had to make regular trips to school because he was "too active" (the teacher's words, not mine). The teacher suggested that I give him some sort of medication to "calm" him. Sadly, I took her advice. His grades improved, but he was like a zombie! He slept all the time and became withdrawn.

I took him off the medications and enrolled him in sports. He was too tired to act up in class and at home, and it taught him how to be a team player, how to perform under pressure and how to follow rules. Today I am the proud mommy of one of the youngest professional athletes in the U.S.! I hope "Unhappy Parent" gives my suggestion a try before she puts her active 6-year-old on meds! -- Move Your Body, Chicago

DEAR MOVE YOUR BODY: While I am not a doctor, I do know as a parent that when you put your child in activities that allow for him to use his physical energy, he often behaves better when it's time to be still. Active recess and gym class at school are essential, yet many schools do not offer gym class anymore. As far as parents go, you were smart to enroll your son in sports. I highly recommend this for boys and girls. In addition to directing physical energy into appropriate activities, supervised sports teach children how to get along, agree to disagree and other key social skills.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm in an interracial relationship. I date a black woman with kids. We've been together for almost two years, and my family doesn't agree with the relationship. They think we should break up. We really love each other, and her family seems to like me and is accepting of the relationship. My family doesn't feel the same way, and wishes things were different. Sometimes I feel like I don't know what to do. Any suggestions? -- Heartbroken, Washington, D.C.

DEAR HEARTBROKEN: It is embarrassing to learn that people in our country continue to have discriminatory thoughts and feelings about people of other races. I can only imagine how challenging this is for you. Because it is your family that is against your relationship, I can see how tough it must be for you to build your relationship and have peace.

You need to figure out what you want. If you believe that you, your girlfriend and her children have a future together, claim that and let your family know. Be direct when you ask them to support you. If they offer push-back, challenge them. Have them name what their concerns are. If they are race-related, let them know that you are ashamed that they would think that way. If they are founded on other legitimate reasons, hear them out and consider their position.