DEAR HARRIETTE: I have young children who are involved in the entertainment industry. My 10-year-old son is a dancer, and my 8-year-old daughter is an actor. We feel fortunate that both of them have gotten paying jobs already through their school and local productions. They have also met some influential people in the business who have offered to help get them to the next level.
I was already worried about what might happen to my children if they meet the wrong people, then I watched the HBO documentary "Leaving Neverland," about alleged sexual abuse by Michael Jackson. I had heard the stories and about the trial years ago, but this film was awful and so scary. I don’t understand how these boys' mothers could have allowed them to go to "sleepovers” at Michael Jackson’s house; he was a grown man.
I don’t know what I might be missing when it comes to protecting my kids and allowing them to pursue their dreams. How do you know if your child is in harm’s way? -- Avoiding Child Sexual Abuse
DEAR AVOIDING CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE: That documentary was chilling. Whether or not the allegations those men made are true, a clear message that came from the film is the importance of parents being vigilant about what they allow their children to do. For stage parents, that includes making sure that your children always have an adult chaperone. This may mean that you have to take time off from work or hire someone you trust to be with your children when you are unable to be there.
For all parents, it is important to teach your children how to protect themselves. This includes giving them the language to discuss what they are experiencing. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, most sexual abuse of children is perpetrated by people the children already know and trust. How can you get around that? By teaching your children the proper names of body parts, which parts are private, that it is inappropriate for others to touch their private parts, that they should keep no secrets from you and that they should speak up if anyone asks them to do something that makes them feel uncomfortable. For all who are reading this, experts recommend teaching your children about their body parts and their rights to their bodies from a young age so that they can stand up for themselves even in scary situations. For more ideas, go to: bit.ly/2XIZcCA.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been dying my hair for at least 10 years now. I went gray prematurely, but in my line of work, it is bad if I start looking older. It has been so busy of late that I haven’t kept up my color appointments as well as I should have. The other day, one of my co-workers, who I think has a mean streak, called me out, saying he could see my roots. I ignored him and immediately scheduled a hair appointment. Should I have responded? -- Peekaboo Gray
DEAR PEEKABOO GRAY: Ignoring your co-worker was the wise thing to do. Don’t draw attention to the thing you want to cover. Ageism is real, even if it is technically illegal. If you feel like keeping your hair colored gives you job security, continue coloring it. You may want to put reminders in your calendar so that you don’t go too long next time.
(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.)