Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Embarrassed Son Skips Tutoring Appointments

DEAR HARRIETTE: My son had a terrible time at school at the beginning of this year, but he seems to be turning a corner. One class remains challenging for him. I organized a tutor, but he’s embarrassed to go to him.

I just discovered that my son has not shown up for any of his tutoring appointments. When I questioned him, he told me that he is doing fine and doesn’t need the help. His teacher told me that the tutor will help him get stronger in the class. How can I get him to understand the value of going to the tutor? -- Need a Tutor, Cleveland

DEAR NEED A TUTOR: Peer pressure -- or the appearance of it -- can be powerful and disabling at once. Your son has it in his head that going to a tutor is a sign of weakness. What he needs to learn is that many of the most brilliant people get support from others to ensure that they are knowledgeable about whatever the topic is.

It is likely that other members of his class have tutors, even if they don’t talk about it. Point this out to him. Let him know that fortifying his foundation in this subject is critical to his overall success, and that’s what the tutor is for. If that doesn’t work, give him an ultimatum: He must go to the tutor, or he loses a privilege that he values, like the use of his cellphone. If you and his teacher believe this is essential for his academic well-being, make it a requirement.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Work & School | Teens

Reader Feels Overwhelmed by the News

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am saddened by how much hate there is in the world. I feel like I can’t turn on the TV or even look at my smartphone without receiving some horrible piece of information. I tried cutting off all communication for a while so that I wouldn’t get any news, but then I got nervous that I might be in danger. It’s making me feel nuts.

How can I manage in today's world without being worried all the time? For that matter, how can anybody be calm when it seems like there could be danger lurking around every corner? From terrorism to anti-Semitism to random shootings in public places -- it’s all too much. -- Paralyzed by Fear, Detroit

DEAR PARALYZED BY FEAR: You need to strike a balance regarding how much and what information you expose yourself to. You don’t have to go completely off the grid, but it is wise to limit how much news you consume on a daily basis.

Similarly, think of what you can add to your information intake that will be nurturing. You can listen to soothing music, take a walk in the park or meditate. Find ways to calm yourself so that you can see your way to the positive.

This does not negate the fact that horrible things are happening in our world, but you cannot allow yourself to be consumed by them. Stay alert and aware of your surroundings. Engage your neighbors. Choose to surround yourself with joyful people and experiences. This will not end bad things happening in our world, but your attitude should help you to avoid succumbing to fear.

(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: Mental Health | Miscellaneous | Death