Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Member of Online Chat Group Plans Meetup

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been a part of a chat group for a year or so. We originally bonded from our love of playing video games, but we have now turned into a global support system for each other. We have spoken through video chats, and I have found all of these people on social media, so I know I am not being "catfished." I want to organize our first meetup in person. Would it be crazy to invite them to stay at my place? I don't have the funds for an international flight, so I figured I'd be doing my part by allowing them to stay in my house. -- Online Family, West Palm Beach, Florida

DEAR ONLINE FAMILY: Given that this is a group of people -- and not just one -- chances are that you will be safe if they all descend upon your home. What could easily be awkward, though, is managing expectations and expenses. Should you decide to suggest this idea, why not float it first to see who is interested?

If there is substantial interest, lay the ground rules in writing to the group. Without changing the energy of your communications, let them know that you are happy to have everybody stay at your house if everyone agrees to pitch in with particular responsibilities, including chipping in for food (and cooking) and keeping things tidy. Make your list as thorough as you deem important, and only move forward if several people agree to come. A one-on-one meetup could be awkward and unsafe.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My wife has gone completely bananas baby-proofing our home. She is 8 months pregnant and snaps at me if I don't replace the plastic outlet cover the second I am done using power. Also, I don't always close the gate on the stairs since we do not yet have a child. She thinks these habits of mine will carry over when we have a child, but I think she is overreacting. How can I get her to realize we have months before we seriously have to worry about a mobile baby? There's Time, Pittsburgh

DEAR THERE'S TIME: Beware the intensity of a pregnant woman's demands. I say that having been pregnant myself. The mothering instinct kicks in, and for some women it becomes all about safety. And dare I say, for some of us, a certain skepticism arises as to whether anyone, including Daddy, can possibly keep the child safe enough.

You are dealing with a woman who sounds like she is living somewhere in that state of mind, so tread lightly. Do your best to try to remember to close the gate and cover the outlet. These are simple yet important requests. When, in your estimation, your wife goes too far, ask her to reel it in a bit. Point out that the baby will not crawl, or even sit up for that matter, for a long while after it is born.

Promise to work together with your wife to protect your child. And then, remember to do it. Don't slack. Do pay attention -- all the time. It is actually extremely hard to do, by the way, which is why your wife wants you to practice now.

(Harriette Cole is a life stylist 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.)