DEAR HARRIETTE: My father says a lot of things that I don’t think are politically correct. He is quick to make racist and sexist comments. He is totally clueless about the way that people communicate today.
I love my dad, but I’m nervous about bringing my friends around. One of my best friends is gay. She hasn’t met my parents yet, and I worry that he may say something rude without even thinking about it. But it is important to me for my parents to know my friends. How can I set them up so that it will be a good experience? -- Reckless Dad
DEAR RECKLESS DAD: Start with a reality check. You have to accept that you cannot control your father. You can ask him to be respectful of your friends when you bring them to meet the family. Express to him how important it is to you that your friends get to know him and your mother. He needs to understand how much you value his presence in your life. With that, you can pivot and tell him about your friend who is gay, and ask him to be kind to her.
You should also talk to your friend and let her know that your father can be brash and insensitive sometimes. Make her aware that he could say something rude. Tell her you want her to meet him anyway, but you cannot control his behavior. If she does not want to meet him under those circumstances, that is perfectly understandable. If she does come and he starts in with rude comments, you can jump in and change the subject or excuse yourselves and leave the room.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My friend’s husband asked me to make a birthday video for his wife. I was happy to do it because I love her so much. But when I saw the video that I made, I cringed. I remember me from 25 years ago when I met my friend, not the older, out-of-shape woman who was staring at me in that video. I considered deleting the video and just saying I didn’t have time to complete it, but I thought about my friend and imagined that she would be thrilled to have me be a part of it. How can I feel comfortable about how I look? -- Not Myself
DEAR NOT MYSELF: Most people look different today than they did 25 years ago. Look around at your friends and notice how they actually look. Chances are, many are physically heavier, some may be smaller, others may have a bounty of wrinkles, plenty will have gray hair or artificially colored hair. The point is that people age and change over time. Stop beating yourself up.
Instead, if you don’t like what you see, do something about it. Take yourself to the gym. Go to a nutritionist and follow an eating plan that will help you shave off the pounds. Let your cringing motivate you to transform that expression into a satisfactory smile!
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist 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.)