Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Fledgling Musician Son Annoys Family

DEAR HARRIETTE: My teenager is in his "musician phase," as I call it. He has been plucking away at a guitar and singing for weeks now. He is a sweet boy, but he is an untrained musician. This has been driving the whole family nuts. I want him to keep it down, but he told me he's writing a love song for a girl. I am torn between supporting him and saving my sanity. Can I banish him to the garage without seeming too harsh? -- Serenading, Detroit

DEAR SERENADING: This is why we have garages! Seriously, you have every right to manage the noise in your home, even as you work to support your son. Give him hours when he cannot play because he will disturb the people inside the house and the neighbors. If you can offer him the garage as a respite, fantastic. Just be sure that he can play in there with the doors closed and not create too much sound that filters into the neighborhood. Some families have soundproofed their garages in order to keep the peace.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter graduated from college last year. Finally, she has found a job and plans on moving out. She informed me that she is taking her bedroom furniture with her. She will be moving into her own apartment -- her first time being on her own. She has a job, which is great, but it doesn't pay that much.

Does this mean I have to buy her a whole new bedroom set to fill her room? I am OK with her taking the furniture to save costs, but I don't know what this will mean for her soon-to-be-empty room. -- Still Her Room, St. Louis

DEAR STILL HER ROOM: Congratulations on this next step in your daughter's maturity. I'm sure this is both exciting and daunting for both of you. Transitions can be tough because you don't know what will happen next. It's good that you are thinking about it all now.

It is very generous of you to allow your daughter to take her furniture. If that truly is what works best for her and for your home, continue to co-sign on that. You can also consider a couple of different alternatives. For example, you could buy her affordable bedroom furniture from IKEA or another starter furniture company. If you are fine with the furniture removal, you can also consider what you want to do with her room after she's gone. Perhaps you want to turn it into a study or den. You could add a sofa bed in case your daughter or others come to visit, so they have a place to spend the night. Consider all your options. Be clear that your daughter can take only her bedroom furniture if you allow her to do so. Establishing boundaries now will be important so you don't end up with your daughter later swiping random household items without your permission. Trust that it happens to many families. Start now to control yours.

(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 Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)