Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Woman's Family Should Look Into Assisted Living

DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my closest friends has a 20-year-old daughter, "Suzie," with mental health issues. When Suzie was about 16, she was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Last year, at age 19, she had a breakdown after smoking something, and she ended up in the hospital for a few weeks. This was stressful to my friend, who also has two younger children (ages 7 and 8) with her husband. After leaving the hospital, Suzie had a few tantrums and hit one of her siblings.

Suzie has made it clear she wants her own place. This family can't afford to pay for her to have her own apartment, and since she has worked at her minimum-wage job for only two months, she can't afford to live on her own. My friend has applied for government assistance so Suzie can have her own place.

We don't need more people on the streets just because this family can't cope. Would I be out of line to suggest my friend find an assisted living facility for her daughter rather than encouraging her to seek government funds for her own place? -- Mental Health Help, Detroit

DEAR MENTAL HEALTH HELP: Your idea is a wise one. Your friend needs help to care for her daughter. It may be safer for her to live in a facility that keeps a watchful eye out for inhabitants with mental health challenges. The tricky part is that these types of facilities are not as plentiful as they once were. Your friend will have to navigate the government to identify which agency can help her daughter. This will take time and patience. While looking for a live-in situation, she should also look for an outpatient option where her daughter can go to receive support and counseling.

DEAR HARRIETTE: Is it possible to have a lifelong commitment to someone you disagree with politically? My boyfriend and I have been together for a few years, and we share the same values in faith and everything else that's important to us. However, when it comes to politics, it can become intense. He's ready to settle down, but I don't know if we could live happily ever after if we're supporting two separate parties. -- Separate Politics, Denver

DEAR SEPARATE POLITICS: Once upon a time, it was not so unusual for couples to differ on political views as well as other things, as long as their core values remained the same. Today, that can seem close to impossible, in part because in our political climate, there is little bipartisan engagement. For you and your partner to be able to weather political debates will require you to agree to disagree at times and, more, to be willing to hear each other out on your positions. This should be true in a relationship no matter what.

As you are deciding whether you can be with this person who sits on the other side of the political aisle, carefully evaluate whether your partner’s values actually are in alignment with yours. Sometimes one’s political stance reflects core values. You need to make sure that you agree on the basics -- like how to care for your family, your health, your rights as a citizen, your money and gender roles.

(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.)