Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: I've been talking to this guy every day for a while. I really like him. He seems nice, and it's cool that he likes to talk to me on the phone a lot -- a lot of guys only like to text with their dates. We've gone out multiple times, and that has been fun, too. He has always paid for our dates.

This week he sent me a picture of his private area. I didn't ask him for it. I think that he wants a picture from me. How do I tell him that I'm not comfortable with that and not to send pictures to me? -- Grossed Out, Westchester, N.Y.

DEAR GROSSED OUT: Be direct when you talk to him. Do not use a text message to speak to him. Wait until you are face-to-face. Tell him that you found the picture offensive. Yes, you like him, but you are not in a sexual relationship, plus you would not want him to text you sexual pictures even if you were. Point out that you know a lot of people do this sexting thing with pictures and racy texts, but it is not your thing.

Ask him if he is willing to curb that behavior. You need to know where he stands on this so that you can decide if you want to keep talking to him. Unfortunately, because sexting is so rampant, it may not seem like a big deal to him, even though it is to you. Figure out if you have shared values and proceed accordingly.

DEAR HARRIETTE: How do I get my child to practice good hygiene? My 11-year-old son is going to middle school in the fall. He has a tendency to not take regular showers. I told him multiple times that if he doesn't bathe in a reasonable amount of time, he would either be punished or there will be consequences. I'm afraid that he will keep up these bad habits when he gets older. -- Dealing With Dirt, Silver Spring, Md.

DEAR DEALING WITH DIRT: Talk to your son about the importance of regularly bathing his body and how it leads to good health. Also, talk to him about his changing body. He is soon to enter puberty, which means he will be developing body hair and will likely develop body odor if he does not regularly clean himself. Educate him on the young man he is becoming. Empower him with information about himself. This may inspire him to bathe a bit more frequently.

You can absolutely also put your foot down about how often he must bathe. If he refuses, take away privileges that he values, such as video games, TV, play dates, etc. Figure out what would motivate him to clean up because he would hate to lose some aspect of his daily life.