Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Father Wants To Apologize Conditionally to Son

DEAR HARRIETTE: I had an argument with my high school-aged son about something frivolous, and it devolved to the point where we both said hurtful things to each other. We have since put the argument behind us and acted normally, but without any real resolution or apologies from either side. As a father, at what point should I admit my transgressions, and how should I tell this to my son while conveying the idea that he is also in the wrong? -- Improving Dad

DEAR IMPROVING DAD: One of the most valuable lessons you can teach your son is how to admit when you are wrong. We all make bad decisions on occasion, and it is essential to be equipped to admit our mistakes with clarity and focus.

Your son observes everything you do. Show him through your example that you recognize your error and that you are sorry. You can tell him that you are sorry that the two of you had such a heated interaction recently. While you believe that what sparked the inflammatory moment was worthy of concern -- meaning you think your son did something wrong -- you do not like how it escalated, and you are sorry that you both said things that you regret. Tell him that even though the moment has passed, you wanted to revisit it for a moment to say that you hope the next time you have a disagreement, you both will be able to discuss or even argue a point without allowing it to turn ugly.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I feel like my organizational skills have deteriorated since graduating from college, and my more-cluttered nature has negatively impacted my job. What are some things I can do to better visualize my tasks and improve my organizational skills? -- Disorganized

DEAR DISORGANIZED: The good news is that you believe you employed organizational tools in the past. Think back to your college years. What worked for you when you were studying? What tools did you use that helped you to survive and thrive? Write those things down and review them to see how your old tools might apply to your current situation.

One strategy that I use for work and life that you may appreciate is making lists. Every single day -- including over the weekend -- I start my day with a list outlining everything that I need to accomplish for the day. I break the list down into categories -- projects, personal responsibilities, bills, health, etc. I make sure to make each entry manageable. For example, if I have a big deadline to meet, I prefer to separate it into small, specific activities that will lead to fulfilling the big effort. In this way, I can check off each small success as I head toward the bigger goal. Success inspires people to access energy to create greater success. This is especially helpful when a deadline is daunting or when the stakes are high.

You can make your list on your computer, on your smartphone or on a notepad. As you accomplish each task, check it off in the moment. This will keep you on track and keep you motivated.

(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.)