DEAR HARRIETTE: My son is a sophomore in high school. He is a great student and generally a good kid. I discovered the other day that he has been smoking weed after finding one of those vape pens in his jacket pocket.
Now, I am no prude. When I was in high school, my friends and I tried it, too. But as a parent, I need to discourage this behavior. I want my kid to continue to be a good student and not to get distracted. Smoking weed can easily distract him from his studies -- not to mention, it is not legal in our state yet. What can I say to him that he will listen to? -- No More Weed
DEAR NO MORE WEED: Sit down with your son and tell him that you want to share your concerns -- without judgment. Be honest. Tell him that you know that he has been smoking weed -- or at least vaping the oil version of it. Make it clear that you do not think this is a healthy or safe choice for him, especially since he is a good student who needs to focus on his studies. Point out that many people who smoke weed get distracted and often spend less time on their homework. Ask him if he thinks that the consequences are worth it. You should also tell him that you tried weed when you were a teenager. Experimenting is normal, but you want to encourage your son to be mindful of what he might try, let alone continue to use.
Tell him you know that you cannot control his actions, even though you can create consequences if he does things that you do not allow. Make it clear that your intention is to protect and guide him to smart decisions based on all that you have learned. You can also encourage your son to do his own research so that he can understand for himself the pros and cons of his actions.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I live in a fairly large apartment building that, unfortunately, has thin walls. Over the past few months, I have heard my across-the-hall neighbors argue on a regular basis. It is disturbing and disruptive for us, because we can hear every word. Worse, though, the other night it sounded like the couple got into a physical fight. It sounded awful and violent. I heard it, but I didn’t know what to do. I hope nobody got hurt, but I’m not sure when to call the police. I don’t want to be that nosy neighbor who possibly gets somebody arrested, but I’m worried for these people. And I’m tired of having to listen to them. -- Violent Neighbors
DEAR VIOLENT NEIGHBORS: If you believe you hear or witness a crime, it is your duty to report it to the authorities. That includes calling the police if you believe that your neighbors are physically fighting. You can submit your complaint anonymously if that will make you feel more comfortable. But think about it for a moment -- you would be sick with grief if you didn’t speak up and either person ended up terribly hurt or even dead. Report it, even if it makes you uncomfortable.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)