Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a 20-year-old son, and he has a girlfriend who I just adore; however, I feel as though he may not be treating her as well as he should. I know that he is kind of a player. I don't think he is dating anyone else right now, but he doesn't seem committed. He is bad at calling her back. He forgot her birthday. He is kind of flirty with other girls, even when she is around. I hate that about him. This girl is amazing and has a good head on her shoulders, and for me to say this about my son's girlfriend is new -- he usually dates girls I hate. I really like this one, and I don't want him to screw it up, but I don't want to meddle in his love life because that could backfire. What do you recommend? -- Meddling Mom, Syracuse, N.Y.

DEAR MEDDLING MOM: Your son is young and still figuring out what he wants in life. I recommend that you talk to him about his interests and desires as they pertain to a partner. While he does not need to be thinking about marriage necessarily, it would be wise for him to think about what he likes in a girlfriend and if this young woman meets his interests.

Remind him of good manners in relationships. Tell him what you believe his girlfriend would appreciate. Point out that wandering eyes can be disruptive to a relationship and are disrespectful. Give your son pointers on how to show his girlfriend that he appreciates her, including remembering birthdays and special occasions. You can also tell him how much you like his current girlfriend, but do not talk badly about the others. Emphasize the positive.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I just left my job two weeks ago to travel the world for a year. I worked for a big financial company on Wall Street and made a lot of money, but I wasn't happy. I was responsible before leaving: I saved a lot of money and can afford to do this. I am hoping that this trip will help me find myself, but my sister thinks quitting my job was a bad idea and that I shouldn't take the trip. I think she is wrong. She is worried that I will come home and not be able to find a job. I am willing to take that risk. I'm hoping that the trip will help me figure out what to do next. How can I calm her down? -- World Traveler, New York City

DEAR WORLD TRAVELER: Your sister is not wrong to be concerned about you, but you are right to pursue your dream. You have acted wisely by saving money and making it possible to travel for a year. Tell your sister you love her and appreciate her concern, and that you intend to take the trip and discover your life's next steps.

While traveling, keep a journal and document your experiences. With eyes wide open, explore the world and be ready to embrace the perfect opportunity when it presents itself.