DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a good student who studies hard and works to get good grades. I have recently been going through a lot in my personal life. It is affecting how much time and effort I put into my work. I failed an exam last week; it was the first exam I have ever failed, and I’m not sure if I should tell my parents. Part of me wants to keep it a secret because I know how disappointed they would be, but another part is telling me I should be honest with my parents. What do you think I should do? -- Worried Student, Philadelphia
DEAR WORRIED STUDENT: Keeping secrets is generally not a good idea, especially from your parents. It is their job to support you as you navigate your life and your academic journey. Clueing them in on your difficulties now may turn out to be a big help. They may be able to see ways in which you can rebalance your schedule -- or even just serve as a shoulder to cry on.
Additionally, you should speak to your teacher to find out what makeup work you can do. Ask if you can retake the exam. Sometimes this is possible. You must also evaluate your personal life to see what needs attention and what requires change. There should be a mental health counselor at school who can help you work through your difficulties and determine the best next steps.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a new mother of a baby boy. I wouldn’t consider myself an anxious or nervous parent, but I am struggling with the thought of leaving my child with a baby sitter or nanny. I know I need to start thinking about finding someone to watch my child, because I haven’t been able to have a social life and go out. I’m not sure how to approach the situation. Should I discuss it with my husband, my parents, a therapist, or someone else? Are there any baby steps I can start doing now to get me ready for when I leave my son for a few hours one night? -- Nervous New Mother, Washington, D.C.
DEAR NERVOUS NEW MOTHER: Talk to your husband about your concerns as well as your desire to balance being a mom with having some fun. Check in with him to see how he feels about a baby sitter or nanny. Think about the people in your life whom you trust. Do you know anyone who might be good to watch your baby? If not, ask friends for referrals. You can also go to an agency that is insured, which may help you feel less nervous.
In the beginning, it can be nerve-wracking to leave your baby with anyone. Feel free to check in regularly while you are away -- at first. Consider installing a nanny cam so that you can see what is happening at home when you are away. There are ways to be safe and free 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)