Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Visiting Boyfriend's Family Requires Planning

DEAR HARRIETTE: My boyfriend has invited me to go to visit his family in another country. It sounds like a great trip, but I have a problem: I do not have a passport. I have never been out of the country, and I’m worried about traveling to Mexico at this time. There’s so much talk about the border and how dangerous it is to cross, I am worried about traveling there and about whether my boyfriend will be safe coming back. He has a green card, but everything is so volatile right now, it makes me nervous. What should I do? -- No Passport

DEAR NO PASSPORT: First of all, it is smart for you to have a passport that you keep up to date. In this way, you can freely move anywhere in the world if you so desire.

Beyond that, be careful not to make assumptions about visiting your boyfriend’s family based on watching the news. Mexico is a huge country. Where does your boyfriend’s family live? Find out what the politics are where they are located. Many parts of Mexico are safe. Some are even thriving tourist areas. Do your research, which should include talking to your boyfriend about what he expects the trip will entail. Find out how often your boyfriend travels back and forth to see his family. You have to be careful not to buy into stereotypes. If your boyfriend is legitimately able to travel to and from the United States, his travel should be easeful. Find out as much as you can about this journey before you make a decision. Do not allow the inflammatory discourse of politics to derail your plans.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband likes to smoke marijuana. He has been smoking since before we met. I got him to agree to smoke outside and reinforced it after our son was born. He was disciplined about it for a while, but recently he has gotten sloppy. He smokes in the house sometimes. This really bothers me, as our son is a teenager, and this is the worst time for his father to be smoking weed. I do not want our son to pick up this habit. Regardless of what happens with legalization, I do not think it is a good idea for our boy to get into smoking weed now. He is a good student, and I want to keep him focused. How can I get my husband to work with me? -- No Weed Inside

DEAR NO WEED INSIDE: You have to sit down with your husband and have a heart-to-heart chat about the future and his role in helping to guide your son’s steps. Restate your opinion about your son and smoking weed. Be crystal clear about why you do not want your son to smoke. Let your husband know that you need his help in enforcing the rules that you believe will help your son to be successful in life. Tell him that you know you cannot control his choices, but implore him to stop smoking inside and stop being an example of what you consider to be reckless behavior. You both need to recognize that whatever you do, your son will interpret as what he should do. Talk about that and reconsider your actions through that lens.

(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.)