Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Teenager Needs to Learn Definition of "Emergency"

DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm a firefighter in my town, and my daughter constantly calls me when she is in the middle of an “emergency.” These so-called emergencies have consisted of setting off the fire alarm when making popcorn, hearing something when she is home alone and getting pulled over for speeding. When I am on duty, I need to remain available to anyone in danger. Is the public more important in these moments than my daughter? She is a teenager, but I don't want to abandon her when she's unsure of what to do. -- Smoke Signals, Tarrytown, New York

DEAR SMOKE SIGNALS: It is time for you to sit down with your daughter and talk to her about the boy who cried wolf. While she may be learning how to be alone and more independent as a teenager, she sounds like she is being a bit manipulative in pulling you away from work for minor challenges. Explain to her how to handle minor household emergencies. Remind her about the importance of driving safely, and make it clear that she can lose her license and her ability to use the car if she is not responsible. Assure her that you love her and want to support her in every way that you can, but point out that your job is to save lives, and you have to be on call. While she can be free to ask you to talk her through a seeming emergency, make it clear that you cannot drop everything and come whenever she calls. You may also want to find a neighbor or some responsible adult who can look out for her when she is at home alone.

DEAR HARRIETTE: In photos, I like to pose only on a certain side (the left). This is definitely my best angle, and I've struggled with figuring out how to ask people to move or switch with me so I can look my best in photos. What is the best way to phrase this? I don't want to sound overbearing, but I do want pictures I can be proud of. -- Cheese!, Milwaukee

DEAR CHEESE!: You are going to have to accept the reality that you will not be able to get your perfect photo angle in every picture without seeming arrogant and selfish. So you have to be strategic. When group photos begin to form naturally, you can scoot yourself over to the best location for you. You can even sometimes say that you want to be in a particular place because “this is my best side,” but don’t become obnoxious about it.

Instead, practice taking photos in different ways so that you find a few poses that make you feel comfortable. Usually, a slight movement of the chin or repositioning of the shoulders can help one’s overall look in a photo. You can practice by taking selfies alone or with a trusted friend.

In the end, I recommend relaxing and enjoying being with the people with whom you are being photographed, rather than obsessing about your perfect side.

(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.)