Sense & Sensitivity

DEAR HARRIETTE: I was driving a group of teenagers to a baseball game when one of them opened the window and threw a banana peel out of the car. I was shocked. This child is close to my son and normally well-mannered. I pulled over, stopped the car and told him to get out with me and collect the banana peel to put it in the trash. He couldn’t believe I did that, but he got out and picked it up.

Later my son told me how embarrassed he was that I picked on his friend like that. He said his friends won’t want to hang out with him if his mother embarrasses them like that. I was so angry I didn’t say anything to my son. How can I address this so my son understands how egregious his friend’s behavior was? -- Crossing the Line, Atlanta

DEAR CROSSING THE LINE: Point out to your son that littering is illegal and immoral. It is our job to take care of our planet, not pollute it. That goes for your son at all times and his friends when they are in your company. Acknowledge that you did not intend to humiliate this young man. You did need to uphold your values, which meant the friend had to pick up his litter. Add that your son should reinforce good environmental habits with his friends.

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

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