Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Boss Calls Young Employee a Baby

DEAR HARRIETTE: I started a new job after graduating from college. I work alongside four other women. Everyone on my team knows that I just graduated from college and this is a new position for me. For the first few weeks, my boss had a habit of taking time to tell the clients and other colleagues that I am young, and she refers to me as “the baby.” It bothers me, so I tried to ignore her and represent myself as the young adult I am. But occasionally she will still call me a baby and pat me on the back.

I want to be taken seriously in my career and start it off without everyone judging me on my age rather than on my skill set. Would you suggest sitting down with my boss and telling her how I feel about being called “the baby”? -- Not a Baby, San Mateo, California

DEAR NOT A BABY: The next time that you and your boss have a one-on-one conversation, tell her how much you like your job and what you are learning. Point out positives about your experience, including how you are transitioning from school to the workplace. Thank her for her support. Then tell her you would like to make a request of her -- this should get her full attention. Tell her that it makes you uncomfortable when she calls you the baby. Make it clear that you are a professional and you want to be taken seriously in this job. Ask her to stop referring to you in that manner as it doesn’t help you to stand fully in your role in the company. Chances are she has been thinking that her nickname for you is a term of endearment. Your clarification may help her to see that you don’t share her view.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My son just started dating. I am happy for him, but the problem is that he brings all the girls that he is dating around family and for family events. I don’t mind him inviting his friends, but the status of these relationships is confusing. He doesn’t introduce each young lady as his “girlfriend,” but the way they interact makes family assume they are together.

I want my son to stay open and have him tell me about his dating life, but bringing around his casual dates is beginning to get complicated. How do I tell him to bring only the girls he’s serious about around instead of bringing a different one to every family event? -- Revolving Door Dates, Minneapolis

DEAR REVOLVING DOOR DATES: This is a tricky situation. On one hand, it is great that your son feels comfortable enough to bring any of his dates around the family. He is not interested in hiding his dating activity, which is commendable. On the other hand, the confusion that multiple girlfriends on his arm can bring is real. Keeping track of who’s who can create moments when young ladies are called the wrong name or family members can get attached to one, only to find that she’s long gone.

Talk to your son about his intentions. Find out what he wants for his life in the near future and down the line. Tell him that you appreciate that he feels at ease bringing his dates around, but also point out that it is confusing for the family. I wouldn’t tell him to stop bringing his dates to the house, but you might suggest that he bring only serious girlfriends to big family gatherings like holidays or family reunions.

(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.)