Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Parent Wants to Guide Son Away From Job

DEAR HARRIETTE: My son graduated from high school six months ago. He does not want to go to college, and he doesn’t really have goals. I am so worried about him. When he was growing up, we always talked to him about college and building a career, but he just isn’t interested.

He got a job at a gun-making company, of all places. His job is to assemble guns. It’s a small business in a nearby town, and he makes good money. But this is not what I want for him. I know it’s legal, but I hate the idea of it.

Should I try to convince him to leave this job or give him space to find his way? I’m worried because I don’t want him to get into gun culture. A bunch of his friends like going to shooting ranges and stuff. I don’t think that’s a good idea for him. But he is a high school graduate and 18 years old. He has the right to make his own decisions. I know I can’t control my son, but I want to guide him. Is it too late? -- Bad Decisions, Tampa

DEAR BAD DECISIONS: You cannot live your son’s life for him, as much as you might want to. While you may not love his choice of employment, at least he has a legal job. He will learn discipline and timeliness at this job, especially if he is on the assembly line. This may also open his eyes to how he would like to spend his future. Some people enjoy rote work, while others want a different type of challenge. Rather than trying to direct him to another line of employment, encourage him to do his best on this job. He doesn’t have to stay there forever, but doing well is important for his employment record.

In terms of how he spends his free time, you already know you cannot control his actions. You can remind him to be extremely cautious when using guns. Point out the obvious: He must always follow the law. You live in a state that allows the open carry of weapons. Your son is of age to own a firearm, so you cannot control that. You can continue to talk to him about safety, though.

Read more in: Work & School | Family & Parenting | Health & Safety

Recently Fired Factory Worker Needs New Job

DEAR HARRIETTE: I worked on my factory job for 15 years, and I was recently laid off, though I didn’t do anything wrong. My company was sold, and the new management is automating everything, so they cut back on a lot of the workers. I have to find work soon, but I’m not sure what to do. I can’t outsmart a computer. Another friend who got laid off has decided to take computer classes so that he might be able to get an administrative job. Do you think that’s a good idea? I don’t know what to do. -- Out of Work, Queens, New York

DEAR OUT OF WORK: It is always smart to increase your skills. What you may want to do is go to your local unemployment office -- the same place where you can get unemployment compensation for a period. Get counseling there for how to direct your job search and expand your abilities. The government offers a range of free classes for people who are trying to re-enter the work force. Seek out this support to see what types of jobs are available these days and what you need in order to secure one. Go to for guidance.

(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.)

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