Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Parents' Fighting Upsets Family

DEAR HARRIETTE: My parents have been arguing a lot for the past couple of months. Although they argue, I don’t think they would ever consider separating or getting a divorce. I know that it’s not my place to say anything, but I am the oldest of four sisters, and I think that my parents need to change. My sisters get upset when my parents fight, and it has been going on for too long. I tried saying something to my mom, but she got defensive and told me I don’t know anything about marriage. It’s true, I don’t -- I have never been married, but I do know that the way they fight is not healthy. Do I try talking to my mom again, or should I get an objective third party involved? -- Worried Daughter, Cincinnati, Ohio

DEAR WORRIED DAUGHTER: Living through this rocky period of your parents’ relationship has got to be exhausting and scary. Are there any other family members or close friends nearby? It sounds like you could use an intervention staged by adult loved ones who may be able to reflect to your parents what their feuding is doing to the family. Talk to whomever you feel closest to, and ask for support. While your parents probably won’t appreciate at first that you have told their business to others, this is your life, too. You want to protect your siblings and yourself. Make that clear, and work on the intervention now.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m pregnant with my second baby girl. My eldest is 2, and I'm due in September. My husband and I are overjoyed about having our second baby. However, I can’t stop thinking about how the attention is going to be off of my toddler. I’m nervous that I'm going to give the newborn all of my attention, and my toddler is not going to feel the affection and love that we gave her when she was an only child. I know that it’s something that my husband and I need to be conscious of, but a newborn is such hard work. I’m so excited, but I'm also nervous and scared. How do I give my toddler an equal amount of my attention when the baby is born? -- Soon-to-Be Mother of Two, Pittsburgh

DEAR SOON-TO-BE MOTHER OF TWO: You need help. The reality is that your first child will probably experience some difficulties because she will no longer be the sole recipient of your affection. That’s reality. One way that you can ensure that she continues to feel loved and supported is to make a plan that involves support. Have a family member, friend or nanny come in to help you with basic things for the baby and playtime with your eldest child. This will give you a chance to be with each child and get much-needed rest.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)