Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Father Frustrated by Son's Senior Slacking

DEAR HARRIETTE: My son is getting in a lot a trouble his senior year of high school. He goes to a boarding school hundreds of miles away, and I have gotten calls and emails about him talking back to teachers, pulling pranks and missing practices. I don’t know what could possibly be going on, but I know that he needs to adjust his attitude. I have worked very hard to give him this education, and I cannot stand to have him kicked out of school with mere months left. How do I get “David” in the right lane? This could jeopardize his future college career. -- Frustrated Father, Dallas

DEAR FRUSTRATED FATHER: You need to go to the school and see your son. With your own eyes, observe his life, his room, his friends. Talk to his teachers and coaches. Schedule meetings so that everything is organized. Set up a meeting with the campus psychologist to get an evaluation of what’s going on with your son. If this behavior is sudden and extreme, chances are something happened to precipitate it. Do your best to find out what’s going on.

Talk to your son about his life. Gently try to get him to open up so that you learn what’s happening. Remind him that he is almost finished with school. He needs to perform well, grade-wise as well as behaviorally, in order to have a good chance of getting into the college of his choice. Monitor him from a distance by staying in touch with members of the administrative staff.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I just underwent surgery, and I am in a horrible mood. I hate being immobile, I hate having to rely on someone and I hate that I am expected to be recovered by July. I need help doing everything from walking up the stairs to cooking food. My morale is incredibly low, and I can tell this makes people want to spend time away from me. How can I find light at the end of this tunnel? I can’t handle losing my mobility and my friends. -- Hurting, Boston

DEAR HURTING: The key here is that you just underwent surgery. Give your body some time to heal a bit, trusting that it will get better. The first few days and weeks after surgery are often tender and do require support. To the best of your ability, be cordial with everyone who helps you. Admit that you are having a hard time with this loss of mobility. Thank them for being willing to help you. Apologize for your bad mood.

Pick something to pay attention to each day that brings you joy. It could be reading a book or eating fruit or writing in your journal. It could even be watching a comedy on TV. Do your best to avoid sad stories right now. Choose to pay attention to uplifting things to help support a better mood.

Stay in touch with your doctor and explain your mood. If it does not improve soon, you may be given temporary medication to help you. Let your doctor guide you medically. Spiritually, you can pray, meditate and choose to believe that you will get better -- because you will!

(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.)