Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Parent Doesn't Want Kids Exploring Woods

DEAR HARRIETTE: My kids and my neighbors' kids have just started playing with one another, and I am happy that they are friends. However, my neighbors have a different set of rule for their kids that I don't really agree with for my own. We live by the woods, and while they allow their kids to run out and play near them, I am not comfortable with that. I'd rather my kids play in the front yard.

Since my neighbors' children are a bit older, they usually take the lead in these play sessions and often try to convince mine to come with them near the wooded area. I don't want to break up this friendship, but my kids’ safety comes first. How can I resolve this situation? -- Out of the Woods

DEAR OUT OF THE WOODS: The fact that you live near the woods means that it is only a matter of time before your children venture out to explore there. If you want to control that experience, I recommend that you go on small hikes with them so that you personally get to see what is in your woods. You can let them know what to look out for and what to avoid. If you don’t really know, scout out someone in your community who can teach all of you.

You can still make the rule that your children have to play in the front yard and that they cannot go into the woods without your permission, but it’s unlikely that your rule will last for long. So prepare them. If there is a scouting group in your area, consider signing them up for that, too, so that they can learn how to safely explore the woods.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I went to an outdoor food and wine festival this weekend. It was a great event with all kinds of things to sample. As can easily happen at this type of event, some people got a bit tipsy. One woman stood out. I recognized her because she is somewhat controversial in our community, and I was surprised to see her there. But she also stood out because she was really drunk. Part of me wanted to see her get her due, and have the local press spot her and write about her drunkenness. I had that thought for a minute, but then my humanity kicked in. I could hear my mother’s voice in my head reminding me of the Golden Rule -- to treat people like I want to be treated. So I asked a mutual friend to help her out. I couldn’t have done it. We aren’t friends, and it would have been awkward.

I guess I’m writing to you because I’m still kind of mad at this woman for making such a dumb choice in even coming to the event in the first place. Should I follow up and say anything or just leave well enough alone? -- Bailing Her Out

DEAR BAILING HER OUT: Don’t do anything else. You resisted a vindictive urge and drew upon your humanity, which is great! Feel good about helping that woman stay protected against her own poor judgment. Now let it go. And hope that if you ever do something stupid, someone will come to your rescue.

(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.)