Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Dad Upset By Daughter's Boyfriend's Religion

DEAR HARRIETTE: My family is Christian, and my college-age daughter just told us that her boyfriend is Muslim. She is nervous to bring him home because my husband has made it clear to her that he thinks Muslims are dangerous.

My daughter has tried to tell us about this young man. When I listen to her, he sounds pretty great to me. He treats her nicely, and she seems to be happy. I definitely want to meet him. I think the worst thing would be to ban him from our home. That will only make her want to commit to him more immediately. How can I get my husband to have an open mind about this young man? I think we should trust our daughter more. -- Open Your Mind, San Jose, California

DEAR OPEN YOUR MIND: Talk to your husband about your daughter and his concerns about the boyfriend’s religion. Admit that you didn’t expect your daughter to have a Muslim boyfriend, but you want to give her the benefit of the doubt that she has chosen someone who genuinely loves and respects her. Point out that while reports in the news sometimes suggest that certain Muslims are dangerous -- terrorists, even -- this cannot be true about all of them, just like there are Christians who have done bad things over the generations, but that doesn’t mean that every Christian is trying to conquer the world, for example.

Suggest that the two of you welcome the young man into your home so that you can meet him and talk to him. Getting to know the person your daughter loves is smart, even if you are skeptical. If he is standing in front of you, there is your opportunity to ask every question you can think of. Don’t miss out on this information-gathering moment because of any stereotypical views you may have about his religion. Get first-hand knowledge of who he is instead.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Love & Dating | Etiquette & Ethics | Sex & Gender

Live Events Require Audience Hand-Holding

DEAR HARRIETTE: I host events at my job a lot, and it’s usually fun until we get to the Q&A segment. I feel like most participants who raise their hands just want to hear themselves talk. They don’t seem to have a real question, and they tend to take the whole event off-message. We give clear guidelines about how to ask questions succinctly, but it rarely seems to work. Sometimes people hog the microphone, and it can be awkward tearing it away from them. What can I do to keep control of the event? -- Give Back the Mic, Cleveland

DEAR GIVE BACK THE MIC: This is the big challenge of the Q&A format of live events. One organization that I work with controls this by giving audience participants notecards. If they think of questions, they are to write them down on the cards and then the moderator will select questions to read to the panelists, who will then answer. This controls the superfluous grandstanding and meandering that can occur when you relinquish control of the mic.

(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: Etiquette & Ethics | Work & School