Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

New Neighbor Make Bad First Impression

DEAR HARRIETTE: A family moved into my neighborhood recently, and my husband and I immediately invited them over to welcome them. We included a few couples from our street, and everybody chipped in to make it a special event. We had a good time getting to know these people, but honestly, while most of us liked the wife, we found the husband to be obnoxious and standoffish. He didn’t try to talk to us. More, he bragged about himself and his possessions. It was gross.

We did find the wife charming. She was pleasant and seemingly comfortable in her skin. She was as laid back as he was aggressive. I want to continue getting to know her, but I really don’t want to have to keep inviting her husband to things. Is it OK to scratch him off the list? -- No Husband Allowed, Milwaukee

DEAR NO HUSBAND ALLOWED: Don’t cut the man off just yet. Instead, choose creative ways to engage the wife independently without actually excluding her husband. That could mean inviting her to a girls’ night or day event. Find ways to spend time with her and others in your group so that you get to know her. Occasionally invite her husband to come to a co-ed affair. He may not want to come, depending on how he feels about that first encounter. Be strategic -- but not rude.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My son loves rap music and enjoys playing it super loud in his room. I have listened to it, and, admittedly, I find some of it offensive. The language is often profane and many of the messages are misogynistic. I already know I can’t stop him from listening. We talk about the messages so that I can ensure he remembers our values.

Recently, he and his friends were playing this music loudly in mixed company. We were at a picnic and they were blasting it. People nearby seemed visibly disturbed. I had them shut it down, but I feel like I need to say more about why that was inappropriate and try to get my son to see this for himself. Any suggestions? -- Rapped Out, Pittsburgh

DEAR RAPPED OUT: Sit your son down and ask him to recount the incident. Have him say what he remembers happened and how people reacted to it. Ask him to tell you what some of the lyrics are to the songs he likes. Ask him if he can see why some of it would be offensive. Go through the language and its meaning so that he fully understands the impact of the messages.

Tell him that he should not play that music in mixed company. It is rude and disrespectful. Add that you wish he didn’t listen to it either. You don’t like the messages that it is sending about what is appropriate behavior. But, since you will likely lose that battle, tell your son you hope he will always remember how to behave as an upstanding young man, and that includes knowing when to turn down his music.

(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.)