Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Mom Doesn't Want Kids Exposed to LGBTQ Portrayals

DEAR HARRIETTE: More and more television series are representing individuals in the LGBTQ community. I think it is great for them to be cast and portrayed in certain roles. However, I see the same happening in children's TV shows, and I wonder why it is necessary for kids to be exposed to sexual orientation at such young ages. The recent gay marriage on "Arthur" is a great example of this.

Being a mother of four, I believe children should be taught to love everyone without being exposed to things they are not ready to comprehend yet. When they see certain things on TV, it can influence and persuade them to make certain actions. For instance, my daughter was playing with two Barbie dolls the other day, and she made the dolls kiss each other. I just don't want them to be exposed to sensitive matter at an early age. -- Overexposed

DEAR OVEREXPOSED: I believe that there is way too much sexual activity and innuendo on TV in general. Subtle portrayals of intimacy have been replaced with overt intimate acts. In theory, I agree with you that no sexual behavior should be part of children’s television -- not because I am opposed to different sexual orientations, but because I think children should be able to enjoy themselves in nonsexualized environments. That said, on "Arthur," the issue was not sexual behavior, it was marriage. Like it or not, we live in a country that allows all people to marry.

While it is true that when people see different behaviors, they take in some information, psychologists agree that children will not become gay because they see that type of relationship -- including a same-sex marriage. The realities of coming into one’s own sexual identity are different and complex. Many people say they knew they were whatever their orientation from a very early age, even if it took time, courage and awareness to express it.

Regarding the two dolls kissing, that could have simply been your daughter playing with her dolls. It could mean more. Talk to her about it. That’s how you will learn where her head is.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I feel like such a failure. I thought I was paying attention to my son’s grades and school schedule, but I just saw his transcript, and he has been late many times and absent way too often. To my knowledge, he had not taken a sick day or stayed home. I work, so I’m not home all day, but I’m shocked by this. His absences are bringing down his grades. Plus, he was doing better at the beginning of the year compared to now. What can I do to help him? -- Student in Need

DEAR STUDENT IN NEED: It’s never too late to step in and try to figure things out. Start by talking to him. Do your best to be even-toned. If you scare him or threaten him, he may clam up. Ask him what’s going on and why he has been absent and late so often and what has caused his grades to slip. You want to find out if there are any emotional issues or relationship drama that he’s dealing with.

Contact his guidance counselor and ask for input that the school may have, and find out why you weren’t informed earlier. Plead with the school to partner with you in supporting your son. Find out if he can do any makeup work to improve his grades. Learn about summer programs that may support him. You should also look into counseling for him. Talking to a therapist about what’s going on may help him to address the underlying issues.

(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.)