Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Daughter Needs to Lower Prom Expectations

DEAR HARRIETTE: As high school prom season is approaching, my daughter and her friends are getting excited about the event. Some of my daughter’s friends have already found their dresses, booked their beauty appointments and secured their dates. My daughter has been asking me almost every day if I can book her a makeup and hair trial run appointment, as well as appointments for the real thing. I know that a senior prom is a big deal, and I want to make it the most special day for my daughter, but I just can’t afford all of these things. It’s hard for my daughter because she has the least wealthy parents out of all of her friends, which means she has to miss out on some things. How can I talk to my daughter about spending less money on prom without making it seem like I don’t want her to have everything? -- Mom Can't Afford It All, Denver

DEAR MOM CAN’T AFFORD IT ALL: I trust that you have talked to your daughter about the reality of your budget before now. She knows already that she cannot do everything that her friends can do. She is caught up in the hype of prom season right now and may need a gentle reminder. You two can get creative and come up with alternative ways that she can have a great experience. For example, she can go to the makeup counter in a department store at the mall and get her makeup done for a small fee or for the cost of a few beauty products. She can even do that on the day of the prom to cut down on costs. You can also check local hair salons to see if they offer special packages for prom, like bundling hair and makeup. She may not get to have a trial run, but it may be possible for her to have professional services. As far as clothing, consider using Rent the Runway. For a nominal cost, she can wear a gorgeous dress and then return it.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am graduating from medical school this spring. I have invited both of my parents, my siblings, and so far, only one set of my grandparents. I am very close with my paternal grandparents, but not close at all with my maternal grandparents. Is it OK for me to invite only one set of grandparents to my graduation, or should I invite both and skip the drama and backlash? What would you do in this situation? I want to go about it so the fewest number of people get hurt, but I also want to be happy since it is my graduation. -- Grandparents at Graduation, Memphis, Tennessee

DEAR GRANDPARENTS AT GRADUATION: You should invite all of the grandparents. You will not want to have it on your conscience that you excluded your maternal grandparents. Given that you are not close, they may decide not to come. But if they do attend, be sure to pay attention to them as well as the rest of the family. You can also ask your family to look out for them.

Graduating from medical school is a tremendous accomplishment. You should be happy. Your family will be proud of you -- including all of your grandparents.

(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.)