Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

British Co-Worker's Humor Goes Too Far

DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my co-workers is from the U.K. “Grant” is well-liked, but he can occasionally go too far with his jokes. Whenever others bristle at his humor, Grant huffs and claims that American humor is just not as developed as his British humor. While this may be true and open to interpretation, there is no denying he offends whoever ends up as the butt of the joke. Should there be more pressure on Grant to apologize, or does he get a pass because we apparently can't understand his sense of humor? -- Cross-Atlantic Comedy, Raleigh, North Carolina

DEAR CROSS-ATLANTIC COMEDY: Americans tend to be enamored with people from other countries, England specifically, as well as much of Europe. The accents along with the general differences and similarities of culture and experience can prove hypnotizing for some -- at least until the love affair takes a wrong turn. This frequently happens when nuances in humor enter the picture.

Your co-worker should not get a pass for what sounds and feels like insulting repartee. If you or your co-workers continue to be uncomfortable because of the ways in which Grant verbally jabs at you, speak up and tell him. Be specific. Let him know that you find his stories about his homeland fascinating and that you do enjoy learning about his culture, but, conversely, make it clear that you do not appreciate some of the indecorous commentary that he targets at you when he gets caught up in his jokes. Ask him to tone it down.

DEAR HARRIETTE: Of my three daughters, my two youngest are actresses. I realized I've been neglecting the oldest one, "Lacey," when we sit down to dinner, and I had no clue what was going on in her preteen world. I drive the two youngest to auditions, casting calls and the occasional modeling shoot. My husband tends to look after Lacey. I don't want this to be an irreparable rift in our mother-daughter relationship. How can I spend more time with Lacey when I'm already trying to be supermom, without boring her as a chauffeur? -- Mother-Daughter Time, Cincinnati

DEAR MOTHER-DAUGHTER TIME: Take a step back and evaluate your engagement of your children. Talk to your husband about your concerns. Discuss how the two of you can better balance the ways that you interact with all your children. It would also be wise for you to give up your “supermom” complex. No matter what you do, it is not possible to be perfect. Instead of striving for the impossible, think about each of your daughters, what you can do to make it clear that you actively care about her well-being and what you can do to demonstrate that you are paying attention.

Consider swapping days when you and your husband act as chauffeur. Carve out time once a week, at least, when you have one-on-one time with your preteen. She is at a vulnerable time in her life when close parental observation is hard but extremely important. Do not give up. Each of your children needs your loving attention.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)