Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Son Watching Porn on School-Provided Computer

DEAR HARRIETTE: I walked in on my teenage son masturbating while looking at porn online. I’m not a prude, but I have to tell you -- this bothered me. I know kids (and others) do this, but I’m worried that his porn habits will catch up with him. Will it blemish his chances of getting into college if somebody knows he is looking at that? He got his computer from his school. I don’t know if it’s part of a system that keeps track of downloads or page views. I don’t know how any of that works. I am worried that my son may have exposed himself to criticism by doing this. -- Risks of Porn

DEAR RISKS OF PORN: You make a smart point. If your son’s computer is a loaner from his school, he should not be using it to look up any questionable material, including pornography. Feel free to tell him that. Do not admonish him for masturbating. That’s a common occurrence for teens. You can point out that discretion is essential, and that means that he should stop watching porn on the school computer, scrub it of any residual files that may be on it and never do that again.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My friend has a business that’s part of a multilevel marketing company. She sells clothing and accessories and is always encouraging me and others to make purchases each season. I often buy an item from her because I want to be supportive. But over the years, I've realized that I am building a closet of clothing that I don’t wear because it’s not really my style. I don’t want to buy anything else, but I feel bad if I don’t. She expects her friends to support her business even though she does not necessarily buy from me every month. I have stuff that I sell, too. How can I get out of my seasonal purchase without offending her? -- Pause for the Cause

DEAR PAUSE FOR THE CAUSE: It may feel awkward at first, but you do not have to make a seasonal purchase. Buy when you are truly interested. If your friend presses you about making a purchase, tell her the truth: Your closet is brimming with clothes she has sold you that you do not wear. You are taking a hiatus from shopping right now. Hope she understands!

You do not need to mention that she doesn’t reciprocate the swapping of dollars between you by spending money on your wares. This is not a tit-for-tat. Just be honest, and even if it hurts her feelings a bit, she will have to understand. Her job as a salesperson is to continue to grow her market so that she doesn’t have to rely on a few customers who buy every season. That way, if any of them can't make a purchase, she is still growing her business.

(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)