Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Parent and Daughter Don't Agree on Piercings

DEAR HARRIETTE: My 15-year-old daughter wants to get her nose and eyebrow pierced. Her best friend from school just did it, and now she thinks it’s her turn. I think it’s a terrible idea. I think it will limit her options for work before she even figures out what she wants to do in her life.

I don’t mean to be a party pooper, but I think my job as her mother is to help guide her to make smart choices as she grows up. This is difficult to do when her peers are being allowed to make other decisions. How can I keep my daughter following the path we laid out for her, given all of the outside factors? -- Pierced, Washington, D.C.

DEAR PIERCED: Your job is to guide your daughter and to set restrictions while she is still a minor. You have the legal right to prohibit her from getting these additional piercings, at least for now. In the best of worlds, you won’t have to use that card, though.

Instead, talk to your daughter about her choices. Tell her about the range of career opportunities before her, and point out that in some fields multiple piercings and tattoos can prove to be a deterrent. Let her know that some fields allow them as well, but your job is to help her have as many options as possible until she is ready to choose her path. Encourage her to wait to make any permanent markings or holes in her body until she has reached the stage of knowing what she wants to do with her life.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Teens

Social Club Gatherings Become Out of Hand

DEAR HARRIETTE: I belong to a social club that hosts monthly gatherings for all its members. We rotate who will host each meeting, and it’s a lot of fun. A couple of the members are well-off, and they have been competing with each other for who can make the fanciest affair. I think it has gotten out of hand. If one hosts at a four-star restaurant, the other hires an in-house chef to prepare a six-course meal. What used to be girlfriends getting together to enjoy each other’s company has turned into a reality show.

I don’t like it anymore. I’ve been thinking about leaving the group, but I feel bad that two women could spoil it for all of us. Do I dare say anything to the rest of the group? I want the shenanigans to stop. -- Back to Normal, Glen Cove, New York

DEAR BACK TO NORMAL: Call a meeting of your club’s leadership and express your concerns. Explain that you think it’s important for the camaraderie to come before the pageantry. Find out if others share your view. Ask if you can bring your concerns to the whole group. Be thoughtful and strategic. Point out that what started out as fun competition seems to have turned into something unhealthy for the group. Ask everyone if they would like to go back to simpler activities. Be sure to include the two reality stars in your decision-making. They may not realize how far out of hand they have gotten.

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics | Friends & Neighbors