Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Son's Decision to Enlist in Army Upsets Family

DEAR HARRIETTE: My youngest son is going into the Army, and I’m scared. He went to college out of state and has now decided to enlist. After he graduated, I tried convincing him that there are other options besides the Army, but his mind is made up. His father is not supportive and ignores my son when he talks about his future. I’m slowly getting used to the idea of him moving again and serving his country, but I am scared that I might lose my child. How can I become more supportive and comfortable with the idea of my son joining the Army? -- Losing My Son, Wilmington, Delaware

DEAR LOSING MY SON: One way to look at your son’s decision is that he is at the age and time in his life when he should be choosing his destiny for himself. It is likely that even if he were making a different choice, you would still be nervous about it because it means that he is choosing to become independent of you. This is hard to accept, but it is part of life.

As far as going into the military, yes, there are risks. Not to frighten you, but there are risks in just about everything, including having him stay at home. Instead of fretting, talk to your son about his ideas. Learn what he’s thinking and planning. Do your best to support him cultivating a sense of agency. Your job as a parent is to help your son become independent.

DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my good friends has been in a relationship with a possessive and mentally abusive boyfriend for the past two years. He is the absolute worst. He treats her horribly, but she is so blinded by love that she doesn't see it. She has spent two years defending him and making excuses for him, which has cost her a lot of friends. As one of the few people who is still close with her, I have learned that I need to keep myself separate from anything having to do with him, or else it will end in us fighting.

When I was at a bar last weekend, I saw her boyfriend there with another woman, and he was definitely not there as “just friends.” I told my friend immediately, and she brushed it off. She basically ignored the fact that he is cheating on her and is now upset with me for getting involved. I am so sick and tired of dealing with her nightmare boyfriend and having him come between us. I've told her this many times, but nothing is going to change. Is it time for me to walk away from this friendship? How can I help her if she won't help herself? -- Extremely Frustrated, Dallas

DEAR EXTREMELY FRUSTRATED: Rather than completely walking away, you can draw a line. Decide not to engage in any discussion about this man -- period. If your friend needs to discuss him, suggest that she speak to someone else. Let her know that you have no more advice for her. If she persists, you may need to walk away -- for a while, at least, until she is no longer under his spell.

(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.)