Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Teenage Daughter Won't Get Off Phone

DEAR HARRIETTE: My teenage daughter walks around with her cellphone attached to her ear like it is an appendage. I feel like everything she does takes twice the time it should because she is constantly talking to her best friend while she’s fulfilling a task. I like and appreciate that she has a friend who seems to be nice, but she is taking this too far. How can I regulate her telephone time without becoming the mean mom? I want to teach my daughter good habits. -- Too Much Phone Time, Milwaukee

DEAR TOO MUCH PHONE TIME: Make it clear to your daughter that she cannot be on the phone when she is completing her chores. That could be managed by you having a phone basket. She can be required to put her phone in the basket until chores are checked off and reviewed by you. Having a method that allows her a bit of independence -- the basket rather than giving the phone to you -- gives space for her to become responsible without feeling overly pressured. If this does not work, she could lose phone privileges. Talk to your daughter about timing and duty. Encourage her to fulfill her duties before engaging in fun.

Husband's News Obsession Bothers Reader

DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband is obsessed with cable political news. Every time I walk into my living room, bedroom or any other room where there’s a TV, my husband is glued to it. It’s almost like watching sports for him. The TV is loud, and he’s invariably screaming at it. I can’t take it anymore. Every day there’s some new horror story about how our government or some other one is mishandling its affairs. I don’t want to bury my head in the sand, but I need a safe space where we are not bombarded by the theater of the absurd that has become daily life. What can I do? -- Politically Drowning, Seattle

DEAR POLITICALLY DROWNING: Watching what’s happening in the world isn’t making it any better. You should talk to your husband about activism. Suggest that he take one more step and put his concerns and fears into action. Perhaps he can volunteer for a civil rights organization or get involved in some other way.

At home, ask your husband to agree to some downtime when the TV is off or at least when it’s not on a news channel. Plead with him for balance in your home. If he is unwilling to comply, work to have him agree to watch one TV that is out of earshot. Ask him to agree to turn the volume down, and absolutely put your foot down about watching the news in your bedroom. Be clear that you, too, are concerned about your world, but you are unwilling to give all your time and brain space over to a rehashing of what’s happening each day on the national and global stage.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)