Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Friend's Parents Hold a Grudge From Middle School

DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my best friends and I have known each other since elementary school. We were very close when we were little, grew apart during middle school and are now closer than ever.

The reason we drifted apart was stupid middle school drama, which doesn’t affect either of us anymore, but my friend’s parents still hold a grudge against me. Every time I go over to their house, they are cold toward me compared to our other friends, and they often make jokes about how we grew apart. It has gotten to the point where I avoid going over to this friend’s house because of her parents. Should I talk about it with my friend and ask her why her parents still hold a grudge against me for something that happened so long ago? -- Judgmental Parents, Towson, Maryland

DEAR JUDGMENTAL PARENTS: Start with your friend. Ask her if she has noticed that her parents are particularly hard on you. Tell her you feel constantly judged by them and that you think it is based on the conflict the two of you had years ago. Enlist your friend to help you to change their view of you. You will likely need your friend’s direct support to get them to have a change of heart.

If you feel bold enough, you can say something directly to them. You can ask for permission to address them, and tell them that you have noticed that they seem to have an issue with you. Tell them that you and your friend have a strong bond and that you want them to welcome you. You can acknowledge that when you were kids you had a bumpy relationship, but it is in the past. Ask for them to welcome you back into the fold.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have three daughters, all very healthy and happy girls. My middle daughter has always been obsessed with how she looks, whether that’s her hair, skin or makeup. Over the past couple of months, she has become overly concerned with her weight. It has gotten to the point where I am worried about her. She looks thin, which can be a good thing when you can afford to lose some weight, but she did not need to lose any. Everyone keeps complimenting her on how great she looks, which I am afraid is just motivating her to lose more weight. I want to talk to her about it, but I don’t want to come off as attacking her appearance. -- Concerned About Daughter's Weight, Richmond, Virginia

DEAR CONCERNED ABOUT DAUGHTER’S WEIGHT: Don’t wait to talk to your daughter. You can compliment her on something that you believe is worthy of note, and then ask her about her eating habits. Tell her you have noticed that she has lost a lot of weight recently and that you are concerned that she is going too far. Ask her what she has changed. Try to get her to tell you what she eats every day. If you are worried that she may have an eating disorder, ask her directly -- though she may not tell you the truth. Depending on her responses, you may want to schedule a physical so that a medical professional can assess her health.

(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.)