Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Dad Angry Over Daughter's Report Card

DEAR HARRIETTE: The way I grew up, the only grade my father considered worth getting was an A. He thought getting 100 on a test was the only acceptable score. While I was an A student, I found it extremely stressful to try to live up to his expectations. That’s why when I had my daughter, I decided not to put that same kind of pressure on her. I expect her to do well, but I do not enforce strict rules about grades.

My daughter recently got her report card, and she got all A's (A, A-plus and A-minus), plus one B. My husband was livid that she hadn’t received all A’s. Further, he told me that my father would never accept a B. We got into an argument about this. Sure, that was my father’s way, but what I know is that my daughter tried really hard and did the best she could in this particular subject. A B is not a bad grade in my book.

I tried to calm down my husband and let him know that I will make sure our daughter knows to always do her best, but I don’t want him dashing her confidence by telling her it’s A or nothing. What should I do? -- A or the Highway, Denver

DEAR A OR THE HIGHWAY: You and your husband must come to an agreement on how and what you will say to your daughter about her education and her grades. She should not have to hear the two of you arguing about her grades, nor should she feel conflicted over the way that her parents regard her scores. Talk it out. Do your best to get your husband to agree to be a cheerleader for your daughter in the sense that you both should be actively encouraging her to study and apply what she learns in the best possible ways. If she needs help, get it for her. Talk to her teachers to learn what support the school offers so that she can improve her grades where needed. Work as a team.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Work & School

Son Seems to Have Changed While Away at School

DEAR HARRIETTE: My son is a junior in college. He has just come home for the summer, and I see that he has picked up some bad habits. He used to keep his room tidy and help out around the house. Now, he sleeps late, doesn’t tidy at all and is generally kind of grumpy. I’m worried that something happened while he was away at school that has changed his outlook on life. I’m not sure how to get him to open up, though. As children grow up, they rarely want to talk about what’s really going on. What can I do? -- Worried, Madison, Wisconsin

DEAR WORRIED: Start by talking to your son over a meal. Ask him how he’s doing and how the school year went for him. Gently probe to learn if he met any new friends, or if there is a special someone in his life. You may need a few of these conversations before you get any leads.

Meanwhile, remind him of the things you expect him to do at home. He hasn’t lived there for a while, so a refresher may be needed. Ease into living together again as the summer unfolds.

(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 | Etiquette & Ethics | Work & School