Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Dad's Career Suggestion Isn't What Reader Wants

DEAR HARRIETTE: My parents have always been supportive of my dreams and aspirations. I am a recent college graduate, and I’m trying to get my career started. It is going slower than I thought, but I’m working at it. Recently, my dad has been sharing the idea of purchasing a small resort or beach house that we could turn into a family business. He just bought some beachfront property that he believes could be lucrative. I think it sounds like a great idea, but it’s not something I'm interested in pursuing. My dad says this place will need full-time maintenance.

I have my own dreams I want to focus on, and working on a beach house isn't at the top of my list. How do I make it clear to my dad that the beach house isn't one of my dreams? -- On My Own, Eastern Shore, Maryland

DEAR ON MY OWN: It sounds like your dad is trying to figure out a way to support you with a ready-made idea for making money. It also sounds like you have other ideas for your life. This is a tough situation to be in, because what your dad probably thinks is helping you is creating unwelcome friction.

Rather than completely dismissing your dad’s idea, talk to him. Tell him that you do think he has a great idea, but that you can't think about it seriously as a choice for you right now. Describe what you are looking to do in your life and the steps you believe it will take to be successful. Ask him if he can support your choice to pursue your path. Also ask if he will be able to build this beach house, and if you may be able to support him with it later. Sometimes family businesses are passed down to the children, but you need to be willing to take over at some point if you make that promise now.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a large family, and we don’t see each other often. My mother passed recently, and my brother, who lives overseas, came home for the funeral. My brother and I haven’t spoken in 20 years, and at the funeral we barely spoke. He was in the United States for only a day; there was no time to catch up and repair our relationship. We had a close relationship in the past, but now that we live in different countries, we’ve grown apart. I haven’t reached out and he hasn't either, but since my mother died, I want to become closer to my family. How can I repair the relationship with my brother? -- After Mom, Sausalito, California

DEAR AFTER MOM: Write your brother a letter expressing your desire to rekindle your relationship with him. Remind him of how close you were years ago. Apologize for not reaching out in the past. Now that your mom is gone, tell him you want to be closer to him and that you hope he will want the same. Suggest that you start by writing to each other and possibly using FaceTime or Skype to get to know each other as adults.

(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.)