Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Kids Should Reconnect With Aging Grandmother

DEAR HARRIETTE: My mother is getting up in age. While she is managing OK, I worry that my children don’t spend enough time with her. We live several hours away, and what with sports and school and such, we see her only a few times a year. I try to get them to call her, but their lives are busy and filled with other priorities. I really want them to make time to connect with her. I got her a cellphone, and I FaceTime her weekly. I want them to join in. How can I get them to do it? -- Connect to Grandma, Richmond, Virginia

DEAR CONNECT TO GRANDMA: Add the call to Grandma to your weekly schedule. Make sure your children know what time it will be. If you schedule it around a meal that everyone attends, it will be easiest. Encourage your children to share tidbits about their lives with her, things that she can share with her friends. Grandparents love to have bragging rights. If you make the call part of the weekly fabric of your lives, it will be easier for your children to participate without feeling like it’s a burden on them. Later, they will appreciate the time spent with your mother.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My mom is super Afrocentric, and I am not. She put me in private schools for many years, and I was exposed to different styles. It’s not that I don’t understand or appreciate black culture; I do. But I don’t want to wear dashikis and turbans. I can be conscious of my heritage without all of that.

When "Black Panther" came out, it got my mom revved up again to wear all of her Afrocentric garb. How can I get her to see that I can respect her ideas and be proud of my heritage without dressing the part? -- No Dashikis for Me, Dallas

DEAR NO DASHIKIS FOR ME: Tell her exactly what you told me. Your mother has her own style, which is great. Yours sounds different from hers. That’s okay. Agree to be different.

Culturally, your mother wants you to know and respect your history. Through your conversation with her, make it clear that you are paying attention to what’s going on in the world and how you fit into it. Make sure that you do continue to cultivate knowledge about your cultural heritage. What you wear is not nearly as important as what you know because it will shape your future.

There is an African symbol called "sankofa," which features a bird with its feet facing forward and its head turned backward. The notion is that you must learn about your past before you can walk into your future. As long as you understand and respect that, it doesn’t matter what you wear.

You are right, though, that with the advent of the film "Black Panther," a new Afrocentric wave covered our nation. People once again felt proud to wear African garments and symbols. There is something nice about that cultural embrace -- whether you choose to do it or not.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)