Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Husband Wants Son to Wait to Learn to Drive

DEAR HARRIETTE: It is time for my son to take driver’s ed, and I am happy about it. We live in the suburbs. Once he masters driving, I won’t have to take him everywhere. He is a responsible young man, and I know he will do his best to be a good driver. My husband, however, is skeptical about the whole thing. He thinks my son should wait until he is 18 to learn to drive. I think that’s way too late, for two reasons. First, I’m tired of being his chauffeur. My husband rarely takes him anywhere. But also, he will be heading off to college at 18. I want him to become a good driver while we are still in his orbit. I think it’s a mistake to wait that long. I don’t want to argue with my husband. How can I get him to understand? -- Moving Toward Independence, Silver Spring, Maryland

DEAR MOVING TOWARD INDEPENDENCE: Take a positive approach when talking to your husband. Remind him how quickly time will pass before your son goes away to school. Tell him you think it’s wise to guide him as a driver while he is still living at home. He may understand that. You may also begin to ask him to take your son places; you can be unavailable and urge your husband to step in. If your husband gets a taste for how demanding it can be to be your son’s car service, that experience may help him to change his mind.

DEAR HARRIETTE: There’s a famous story in my family about my great-aunt, who was old but not ill. She had come to live with my grandmother, and after a while, it felt like she was imposing on the family. She was no longer working and had no money. She felt bad about not being able to contribute to the home, so she decided to die. The story goes that she just stopped eating. After a few months, she withered away and was gone.

I was always horrified to hear that story, but now I understand. I am a senior citizen, and I have been out of work for several years now and do not have enough money to buy groceries, let alone keep a roof over my head. I do not want to be a burden on my kids as they are building their families. Do you think I’m crazy for having these thoughts like my great-aunt? -- End-of-Life Thoughts, Cleveland

DEAR END-OF-LIFE THOUGHTS: What you didn’t tell us was how the rest of the family felt about your great-aunt’s decision. I bet they would have preferred to share their food with her and have her with them longer, even if resources were low.

It sounds like you need to get some mental health counseling and financial support. Go to your local community center, church or hospital to learn where you can get free or low-cost counseling. Be honest about your situation, and ask for guidance. There may be government resources available to ease the burden. You may even be able to find a job for seniors that will put a little change in your pocket. Don’t give up.

(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.)