Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

10-Year-Old Daughter Doesn't Like Future Stepdad

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am about to get married, and my 10-year-old daughter is not happy about it. I have finally found a man who wants to be my partner in life. He likes my daughter, too, but she is not kind to him. She is just a child, but she does not accept him at all. I know that it can be hard for kids to welcome stepparents, but I need my daughter to like my fiance. What can I say to her to help her to adjust to this change in our lives? -- Single Mom Marries

DEAR SINGLE MOM MARRIES: Slow down and make a plan with your fiance that includes your daughter. He needs to get to know her better and build a loving bond with her. She needs to witness that he is not trying to take you away from her. She needs clear evidence that his presence in your lives will bring value, not tear you away from her. Institute a weekly family night where the three of you do something together. It can be as simple as watching a movie, but make it an activity that you don’t miss. The more you can do to include your daughter in experiences with you and your fiance, the more likely it is that she will soften to him.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am proud of my siblings, and people from our hometown remind me all the time of how incredible they are. It’s also hard for me; I have not been as successful. I took another path and ended up in rehab, and it has taken me a long time to get my act together. I don’t want to be the bad seed, so to speak.

I am working to get my life together, but it’s hard when my siblings are overachievers. How can I stand up and represent myself as the man I am becoming when my siblings are superstars in their industries? -- Shrinking Violet

DEAR SHRINKING VIOLET: Being compared to your siblings can be hard no matter what your station in life. The fact that you have experienced some significant bumps in the road doesn’t help you right now. What you need to do is change your focus. Instead of thinking about what your siblings have accomplished, keep your lens turned on yourself. What are you doing to get to your next goal? How does it feel when you accomplish a task you give yourself? Keep a physical list of goals and completed tasks to help keep you on track. Celebrate your small victories. No need to brag about them. Fortify yourself by knowing that you are doing your best. Surround yourself with people who support you for the person you are.

When others laud your siblings, give them their due. Resist comparing yourself to them. Just acknowledge their good news and let that stand for itself. Don’t falsely believe that you have to attempt to one-up them at those pivotal moments.

(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.)