Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Needs Answers for Nosy Friends

DEAR HARRIETTE: Every summer for the past 15 years, my family and I have gone on vacation to the beach. This year has been difficult. I lost my job a few months ago, and we have had to cut back on our activities a lot. We managed to scrape together enough money to send our son to the camp he has attended for the past few years, but that meant that there was no money left for my husband and me to do anything more than whatever we can do locally. Friends keep asking us what’s up, why we aren’t heading to the sun like usual. Do I tell the truth -- we just can’t afford it this year? Or do I say we decided to stay home and work on our house, which is also true? I’m not sure how forthcoming is appropriate. -- No Sun, No Fun, Dayton, Ohio

DEAR NO SUN, NO FUN: Think about the friends who are asking, how close you are to them and how much you want them to know. Since you are out of work, you may want to let people know so that if they have any leads, they can share them with you. Keeping your state of employment to yourself does not necessarily help you, even though it can be tough and feel embarrassing to talk about it. For the friends that you feel comfortable talking to, tell the truth -- all of it. It is a blessing that your son is able to enjoy the summer in his normal way. You are making the best of your situation, but these are lean times. Opening up allows you to think out loud with loved ones. Maybe you will find a path to abundance in this way.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Holidays & Celebrations | Money | Work & School | Friends & Neighbors

Could Hungry Teen Have Eating Disorder?

DEAR HARRIETTE: I read one of your recent columns, and I wonder: Did anyone entertain the possibility that "Alex," the hungry teenager who eats constantly without any regard for his family, has an eating disorder and needs help? I know that it's more common in girls, but the fact that he doesn't make any specific requests but gorges on everything in sight sounds like compulsive eating. He's a teenager, and teenagers are under stress and often have emotional problems. Please suggest to his mother that she check it out. -- Concerned, Memphis, Tennessee

DEAR CONCERNED: Thank you for your suggestion. You are smart to point out that boys, too, can suffer from eating disorders. I did some research to be able to share more here. It turns out that teenage boys (and men) nationwide do wrestle with anorexia, bulimia and binge eating. Any parent who suspects his or her child of eating in an unhealthy way should investigate the possibility of an eating disorder. Get a complete physical for your child so that you gain an assessment of his or her health, and take the necessary steps to get your child healthy. This website has some good information specific to eating disorders and males: For anyone else who may be facing an eating disorder, do not suffer alone. Get help.

(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: Mental Health | Health & Safety | Teens