Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

DEAR HARRIETTE: My good friend allows a man she is dating to watch her two young granddaughters when she makes small store runs. I have met her boyfriend, and he seems like a nice and trustworthy guy. But the kids' mother has confronted my friend about leaving her babies with him, and I honestly cannot blame her. With everything that has been in the news lately about predators taking innocent children's lives, it is not the best idea to leave two girls alone with this man. My friend confided in me, confused and hurt about the mother's negativity in this situation, and I need a way to explain to her how crucial it is to be extra-cautious with her small granddaughters. -- Off-Limits

DEAR OFF-LIMITS: Your friend’s daughter has the right to put her children in the trust of specific people -- namely, your friend. She also has the right to ask your friend not to leave them with anyone else, including her boyfriend. While he may be perfectly safe, he also may not have the skills to care for small children or the willingness to watch them as needed. And, for pure safety purposes, it is understandable that their mother would not want her babies to be in the care of someone she hasn’t vetted.

The way your friend can handle this is simply to stop doing it. If she needs something from the store, she can ask her boyfriend to go get it. She may not need to say anything to her boyfriend about her daughter’s concerns. Instead, she can just be a responsible baby sitter of small children, meaning she never lets them out of her sight.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I was asked by a close friend to take on her college-age daughter for a summer internship. I often have interns, but this year I wasn’t planning on working with any young people. I want to take it a bit easy. It is true that whenever I have college interns, I get energized because they normally have good ideas, but this year I had planned to spend most of the summer with my own daughter, who will not be in camp for the first time in years. How can I help my friend’s daughter and be there for my own as well? I work freelance, so I don’t have to follow a precise schedule, but when you have an intern, it’s best to stick to a routine. -- Striking a Balance

DEAR STRIKING A BALANCE: You can do both! You just have to rally enough energy to get started. Design a limited workweek with your intern -- say 15 to 20 hours a week with a relatively defined schedule. Include your daughter in some of the activities. The two of them could work together on certain projects, which will allow you to spend time with your daughter and give her structured work to do in the summer.

On the off hours, plan special activities for just your daughter and you that will be memorable in years to come. Don’t just lie around at home or shop. Seek out interesting sites to visit and activities that you both will enjoy.

(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.)