DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a mother of two boys; my youngest is 8 years old, and the older one is 13. I have noticed that my middle-school-age son has been coming home from baseball practice very upset the past couple of months. My husband and I approached him about the situation and learned he has been getting bullied by the team. He is in seventh grade, and I am not quite sure how to handle this situation. I don’t know how involved I should get, or what is appropriate to say to the coach. I don’t want to embarrass him, but I also don’t want my son to feel the way he has been feeling lately. -- Intervening Mother, Denver
DEAR INTERVENING MOTHER: This is a tricky age for children. On one hand, they are learning to be more independent and discovering how to fend for themselves. On the other, they remain vulnerable to their peers' bad behavior and don’t always have the tools to take care of themselves through challenging situations.
Before intervening at the school, try coaching your son. Get him to open up to you even more so that you can learn exactly what the other students are doing and saying to him and how he is responding. If possible, suggest actions that he can take to stand up for himself without putting him in harm’s way.
Should none of those measures work, tell him that you plan to speak to his baseball coach. (You want to avoid any surprises.) Then request a private meeting where you outline what you have observed about your son’s mood as well as the reports he has shared with you about the other students. Ask for the coach’s help in rectifying this situation. Make it clear that you do not want your involvement to cause your son embarrassment, but you need him to feel safe.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a school counselor who works hard to earn money. I save as much as I can, and I have enough money to buy my first car. I think this is a big milestone in my life, and I am feeling excited and nervous at the same time. Do you have any recommendations for how someone should go about choosing the right car? A new car is a huge investment, and I want to make sure I am going about this the right way. -- New Car Owner, Norfolk, Virginia
DEAR NEW CAR OWNER: First of all, know that you can buy a good car without having to buy a brand-new car. Used cars are much less expensive and can be perfect, especially for a first car. Just make sure you have it thoroughly checked out so that you don’t have surprises down the line. You can also consider going to government auctions for cars. At different times of the year, most cities auction off cars that have been impounded or otherwise abandoned. Often, you can find incredible deals for cars in excellent condition. Get creative. Look online for bargains. You can buy a car and be frugal at the same time!
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)