Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Teenage Daughter Apathetic About Going to Polls

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been taking my daughter to vote with me since she was born. She is a teenager now, and getting closer to the age when she will be able to vote. The midterm elections are coming up, and I reminded her that we are going to be voting soon. She shrugged it off because it means she has to get up earlier than normal before going to school. These days it is always a fight to get her out of bed and to school on time. Still, I do not want to break our tradition. To me, it’s even more important for her to go with me when I cast my ballot as she prepares to become a voter herself. How can I be sure that I can get her to comply? -- Encouraging the Vote, Boston

DEAR ENCOURAGING THE VOTE: Talk to your daughter about the importance of the midterm elections. Discuss who is running for office and what you think about the various candidates. Engage her in a meaningful discussion about the election so that it becomes real for her.

As she nears voting age, the way that she will become interested in getting up and getting out to vote is if she cares about the issues and understands that her vote can make a difference. Her single vote can help to bring about the change that she may want in the world. If you talk to her about the issues and the candidates so that she gets excited about the process, she will be more likely to wake up on her own and want to go with you to cast your ballot.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I graduated from college more than 20 years ago, and I’m not the girl who goes to homecoming, though I stay in touch with a few close friends. Anyway, one of my college friends reached out to me the other day to say that she is coming to my city and she wants to know if she can stay with me for a week. I have not talked to this woman for about 15 years. Yes, we were close back in the day, but this is an odd request that makes me feel uncomfortable.

I am happy to show my friend my city when she comes and to hang out a little, but I am not interested in hosting her in my home. I live in a small apartment and am a single mom. I do not want to disrupt our life for someone I haven’t been in touch with for years. How do I handle this? -- Throwback Request, Las Vegas

DEAR THROWBACK REQUEST: You live in a place that is popular for vacations. Your former college friend clearly wants to visit Las Vegas, and it sounds like you seemed to be the ticket for her to be able to make it happen. That said, you do not have to be her hotel.

If you like this woman, it’s great for you to tell her that you will be happy to see her while she is in town. You can offer to show her around one day or meet up for dinner. But don’t feel bad about telling her that she cannot stay with you. Just say no.

(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.)