Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Sister's Behavior Worries High School Senior

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a high school senior, and I have a sister who is a freshman. We were raised in a conservative home with two loving parents. My parents considered me the "golden child" because I always got good grades and stayed out of trouble. My sister, on the other hand, is the "black sheep." She is rebellious, doesn’t do well in school and is constantly in trouble. Coming into high school, she had a bad reputation, and she hasn’t made it any better for herself through her actions this past year.

My parents are aware of my sister's flunking grades, but I don’t think they are as aware of her actions. I don’t want to rat her out, but I do think that she needs to calm down because I’m starting to worry about her. Do you think that I should have a talk with my sister before I get my parents involved? -- Worried Older Sister, Milwaukee

DEAR WORRIED OLDER SISTER: You should have an ongoing dialogue with your sister. Don’t lecture her. Try to find out what’s going on. You already represent everything she is not, so be mindful not to act like you’ve got it all together. Instead, express your concern for her. Ask her what she wants to do with her life after high school. Suggest that she give that some thought so she can make a plan. You will be leaving in a year, and you want her to be all right when you are gone.

If you suspect that she is involved in something that is dangerous or harmful, you should tell your parents -- even if you worry that she will get mad at you.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I absolutely hate my job. I have been working for this company for five months, and I can’t stand it. I like a few of my co-workers, but I can't stand most of them and I truly despise my boss. I want to look for a new job so badly, but I was always told that you should stay a year at your first job before switching, even if you hate it. Plus, it looks good to future employers. But now I don’t believe in that at all. If you are miserable, you should be allowed to switch jobs, right? Even if it is your first position out of college? I just want to be happy where I am, and right now I am so miserable, I hate waking up to go to work. -- Miserable at My Job, Baltimore

DEAR MISERABLE AT MY JOB: Evaluate exactly what is making you miserable. Sometimes a simple attitude adjustment can help you to refresh your opinion of your job and make it easier to stay for that year. Even if you do start looking for another job, you need a positive attitude, or it will be harder for you to be attractive to a future employer. Work on tempering your feelings about your boss and co-workers. Focus on the work and master whatever you are given to do. At the same time, set your sights on the type of job you want next. You can begin the research and go on interviews. Be sure not to complain about your current job during this process.

(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.)