Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Might Be Able to Help Friend's Son in Jail

DEAR HARRIETTE: I just found out that one of my good friends has a son who is in jail. I was wondering where he was, as he has not come to any of the gatherings that we typically have throughout the year. Now I know that he didn’t come because he has been in jail for several weeks. His mother did not tell me; another friend did.

I want to support my friend, and I might even be able to help. My husband is a defense attorney, and he would be happy to do whatever he can. That said, I don’t want to intrude. Obviously, this is sensitive, but given that we might be able to help, do you think it’s worth it for me bring it up to her? -- Helping My Friend, Milwaukee

DEAR HELPING MY FRIEND: Schedule a time to get together with your friend. Ask for permission to have a candid conversation. Let her know that you were recently told that her son is in jail. Point out that you are not trying to get in her business, but you want her to know that you would be happy to help if she needs support. Remind her that your husband is a defense attorney. Ask her if she needs legal support. Find out if there is anything you can do to help her. Assure her that you have no intention of gossiping about her family crisis. You only want to help. Listen to what she requests of you, including if she asks simply that you do nothing.

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics | Health & Safety | Friends & Neighbors

Reader Addicted to Political Talk Shows

DEAR HARRIETTE: I was obsessed with politics last year, so much so that my husband and children didn’t want to stay in the same room with me because I constantly had cable TV on, watching one political talk show or another. I do not work in politics, but I got so concerned about the stuff that has been happening that I wanted to stay on top of it. I realize now that I went overboard. How can I remain in the know without becoming obsessed? I feel bad that my family doesn’t want to spend time with me anymore. -- Seeking Balance, Pittsburgh

DEAR SEEKING BALANCE: Cable news networks enjoyed huge audiences in 2017 thanks to the constant barrage of inflammatory material that fueled daily commentary. While you are not alone, you are wise to figure out how to curb your political news addiction. Consider reading news sources -- including newspapers and websites -- at a particular time of day. Reading is not noisy and does not automatically distract others.

As far as watching your favorite political shows, give yourself a timeframe when you can watch. Outside of that window, either turn off the TV or switch to a more neutral channel. If your shows do not air within that time slot, tape them to view later. Tell your family of your intention to spend more quality time with them and away from politics. Then work at having engaging experiences with them. Everyone will benefit.

(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 | Mental Health | Addiction