Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Children Need to Learn From Mistakes

DEAR HARRIETTE: I put my foot in my mouth this weekend. My kids got into a war of words with some of their friends that I felt, as a parent, needed to be addressed with the other parent. I talked to the other mom, and ultimately this conversation made the whole situation much worse. The kids had moved on from what seemed like a very negative situation and felt that it was resolved, only to have me stir the pot again. I have apologized to my kids, but is there anything else I should do or say? -- Foot in Mouth, Cincinnati

DEAR FOOT IN MOUTH: The best thing you can do now is nothing. Please do not call the other mom again or grill your own children. As hard as it may be for you to step back and let your children figure out how to manage their lives, you must attempt to do that. Of course, there are times when a parent should step in, particularly when the children’s safety is at risk. Outside of that, it is best to stay on the periphery observing to make sure the children are doing their best to work through a challenge without getting involved in it. Pay attention. In time, your children may double back to give you an update on what’s going on in their lives. They need to have the space to make mistakes and learn from them without having Mommy too ready at the rescue.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Teens

Moths' Munchings Mortify Mom

DEAR HARRIETTE: I feel so bad. Somehow moths got into my family’s winter clothes when they were stored away. We have just pulled out our sweaters and almost all of them have moth holes in them. I feel terrible that my children have to wear sweaters with holes, but I cannot afford to replace them. I am afraid my children are going to be ridiculed from wearing holey sweaters, but I don’t know what to do. How can I suggest that they spin this situation so it doesn’t seem so bad? -- Full of Holes, Boston

DEAR FULL OF HOLES: Sadly, many families are opening their winter clothes along with you to discover that moths have invaded. The first thing you should do is invest in mothballs. Even though some damage has already been done, you need to exterminate the moths that are in your home to prevent further damage in the coming days and weeks.

For the damaged clothing, you may be able to sew some of the holes. Invest in colored thread and carefully sew or darn -- if you know how to do that -- as many of the holes as possible. Some clothing may fare better with patches. Get creative.

To prevent moths from taking over your valuables in the future, be sure to keep all of your clothing clean, especially wool and cashmere items. Handwash immediately after you soil such clothing items, and keep them stored in airtight containers.

(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.)

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Money | Work & School