DEAR HARRIETTE: My middle school daughter is going through it. She is a happy, confident, strong young lady. She is also a very good student. Her problems are coming from her closest friends. There are three girls who have been her tight buddies for years, but recently they have been particularly mean to my daughter. They do things together and do not include her. They no longer wait for her at lunchtime so they can eat together. Occasionally, they show up as if nothing ever happened, but they snub her a lot.
Naturally, my daughter is hurt. She thought these girls were her best friends, only to discover that they only like her sometimes now. What can I do or say to her to help her through this difficult time? -- My Daughter Is Devastated, Seattle
DEAR MY DAUGHTER IS DEVASTATED: Sadly, mean-girl behavior is all too common during the middle school years in particular. What you can do is remind your daughter of how much you love and support her. Be an attentive listener so that you stay up on what's going on without prying too much. Suggest that she expand her friend group. Who else in her class or grade can she spend time with? She should open her eyes and look at her classmates differently. There may be girls right there who would like to spend time with her.
Encourage your daughter to participate in extracurricular activities outside of school so that she can build more relationships. If these girls continue to be mean and rude, she can decide to walk away from them entirely. If they don't treat her with respect, she needs to know that she does not have to keep them in her life.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband and I are celebrating a big anniversary this year, and I really wanted to host a dance party for us because we love to dance together. The reality is that I can't do that. I have been working part-time for a couple of years, and honestly we can't afford to throw any kind of party. It's getting close to the date, and I really want to do something special for my husband. We have been through so much, and it would mean a lot for us to be able to celebrate. Do you have any suggestions? -- Anniversary on a Budget, Denver
DEAR ANNIVERSARY ON A BUDGET: Congratulations on your many years of marriage. Now it's time to get creative. You want to dance for your big day? You can still do that. You may not be able to host a huge party, but you can choose a nightclub in your city and invite your friends to join you there that evening to dance. If your home has enough room, you can host a small dance party right there and just turn up the music.
Beyond dancing, you can schedule a gathering with a few of your closest friends. You can have it at home or at a friend's home. This could be a dessert-only party, which could help you cut down on expenses. Finally, you can go out to a nice dinner with your husband, just the two of you, where you reminisce about your life together.
(Harriette Cole is a life stylist 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.)