Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Parents Want to Provide Champagne to Teens

DEAR HARRIETTE: My family and I were invited to a holiday party with friends from our son’s previous school. The children are in 9th grade, and they will be reuniting at this event with their parents.

The host mom wrote to ask the parents if we would allow our children to have a toast of champagne at the party. With parents there, it will be controlled, she explained, and her son wants to make this offering. She asked us to get a sense of what we think. My husband and I agreed; we figure it’s better for our kid to try alcohol with us in the room. Most parents said yes -- for one glass. One parent said no, but said it would be OK for his kids to drink a soft drink at the same time. What do you think about this idea? -- The First Toast, Bronx, New York

DEAR THE FIRST TOAST: In theory, I like the idea. While I know that it is not legal for teenagers to buy alcohol, I think it is wise for parents to teach their children how to manage many situations firsthand. That includes alcohol consumption. Many teenagers will try alcohol at some point, often with their friends and without boundaries. To learn how to have a toast and make that enough could be a good example to set for them. What’s most important is for parents to talk to their children about alcohol and drugs and teach them how to be safe.

Your kids should learn never to take a glass of anything -- alcoholic or not -- without seeing it being poured. They should never pick up a glass after they have put it down and left it unattended. They should know that allowing them this one toast does not give them license to drink.

I think one toast with parental coaching around it can be a nice treat.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Health & Safety | Friends & Neighbors | Teens

Husband Wants to Go to All the Parties

DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband and I were invited to several New Year’s Eve parties, and he wants to go to all of them. I am tired. I have been working like crazy and would rather stay home and chill. I realize this is a big night, but I’m not up for party hopping. I am willing to go to one event. How can I get him to agree to this compromise? -- Not in a Party Mood, Annapolis, Maryland

DEAR NOT IN A PARTY MOOD: Remind your husband of the schedule you have been following of late, so that he understands you are not exaggerating your state of mind and body. Point out that you really want to stay at home and cuddle with him, but you are willing to go to one event as long as you don’t stay out all night. Ask him to meet you halfway. Assure him that you want to spend time with him on this special night, but you just don’t have the stamina to be a party girl.

If he sulks, consider liberating him to go and hang out on his own or with mutual friends. Don’t be mad, though. Instead, ask him to come home to share a toast with you at or near midnight.

(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: Love & Dating | Holidays & Celebrations