Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Shouldn't Feel Pressured to Join Board

DEAR HARRIETTE: I was just invited to join the community board in my town, which is wonderful. The only thing is that I am totally not available. I work two jobs, and I have a young child and a husband who works intermittently. We have a good rhythm in our home, but I’m afraid that adding anything more will upset our equilibrium.

When I told the person who invited me that I didn’t think I could do it, he acted disappointed. I really do appreciate the organization’s faith in me, but I can’t give in to the pressure. I really cannot do this job right now. How can I say no to them and still have good standing in the neighborhood? -- No Can Do, Brooklyn, New York

DEAR NO CAN DO: Honesty is all you have. Sincerely thank the members of the organization for thinking of you and believing that you would be a great fit for the board. Tell them that you will consider the role in the future, but as disappointed as you both are, you know that you do not have the time right now. Offer to participate intermittently in community activities, to help get the word out when there are important announcements, etc. Assure them that you will do what you can, but be firm that what you cannot do is be a formal board member at this time.

Read more in: Work & School | Etiquette & Ethics | Friends & Neighbors

Kids and Parents Don't Have the Same Taste in Music

DEAR HARRIETTE: I love music, and so do my kids. The thing is, we don’t love the same things.

When I’m grooving to '90s tunes or '80s R&B, they cringe and tell me I’m old. I want them to know all music, to be exposed to everything -- including the rap that they seem to love right now. How can I get them to be open to all genres of music? I exposed them to it when they were kids, but today they are impatient and don’t want to hear anything I play. -- Name That Tune, Minneapolis

DEAR NAME THAT TUNE: Go back to making music fun in your household. Think of games that will bring all music to life. Take turns playing each other’s music and truly listen to it. You can guess who’s singing or rapping one of their favorites and have them do the same for one of your oldies but goodies. Point out that music is wonderful in part because there are so many different genres and artists. If you act truly interested in whatever your children are playing, this may spark their willingness to listen to your music, too.

My daughter taught us many of the latest pop and rap artists because we let her play “her station” in the car for part of the time when we go on road trips. That my husband and I can easily identify Drake or The Weeknd gives us some music cred. Then she may be willing to acknowledge that she recognizes Stevie Wonder or Luther Vandross.

Remember, though, that children can be self-absorbed at times. Drawing them out to enjoy your choices may be a challenge -- to say the least. Later in life, people tend to remember the music that their parents played, even if they didn’t consciously act like it at the time.

(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