Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole


DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter is starting middle school this year, and she will be going to a different school than all of her good friends. This is because my husband and I got into a huge argument about schools, and he put his foot down about not wanting to send her to the favored school. In order to avoid a complete family meltdown, I acquiesced. But now my daughter is sad all over again as she remembers that she will no longer be in class with her besties. How can I smooth things over for her? -- Mad Mom, Jackson, Miss.

DEAR MAD MOM: You made a decision. Now it is time to live by it. Your emotional state regarding the school change will surely affect your daughter, so own your decision and move on. Focus on the new school and the great attributes that it has. Learn all that you can about the school and the extracurricular activities that it offers. Help your daughter figure out where she fits in.

In the meantime, make sure that she stays in touch with her best friends, but not too much in the first weeks. Both sides need to acclimate to their new environment. After they settle into their new schedules, arrange get-togethers where they can check in and continue to nurture their longtime friendships.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I was previously married, but my husband and I never talk about it. It seems like it happened a lifetime ago. My ex and I never had children, so it didn't seem to matter. That is, until it came up one day when my family and I met up with one of my old college friends who mentioned my ex. My 12-year-old son overheard the conversation and became upset. I talked to him about my past and shared that it was true, although it happened years ago. He seemed OK. Now I wonder if I was wrong not to mention it before. There just didn't seem to be any reason. What do you think? -- Scratching My Head, Shreveport, La.

DEAR SCRATCHING MY HEAD: My parents taught me that it was their responsibility to share information with their children on a need-to-know basis. Over the years, I learned all kinds of things about both my mother and my father that would not have been appropriate before the moment they were shared.

This is a good gauge for you. You had to clarify with your son after he overheard about your past, and so you did. Had that not occurred, since you have no relationship with your ex and it occurred long ago, there was no real need to tell your son. Similarly, as time goes on, you may discover that experiences that you have had -- both positive and negative -- will be right to share based upon what he is experiencing in his life. Even some of the most extreme situations need to come to the fore when you are facing serious situations where insight is helpful. Trust your instincts. Do not lie. Share when the moment calls for it.