Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Daughter Needs Structure During the Summer

DEAR HARRIETTE: This is the first summer in years that my daughter is not going to camp. She didn’t want to go anymore, and my husband and I appreciated the financial relief of not having to pay that big bill. What we didn’t plan was how she would spend her time.

In the past, my daughter had a minimum of four weeks of completely structured time with counselors, advisers and friends. Now she likes to sleep in late and lounge around. This is not a practice we want to condone. I work for myself, and I thought I would have her help me in my business. She isn’t so keen on that, but I have to find something for her to do. She is a high school student, and I know she needs structure. We have a few weeks planned out when we will be going to the beach or to visit family, but there is still a lot of downtime in there. What should I do? -- Teen Time

DEAR TEEN TIME: It is wise to find ways to fill your daughter’s time, for sure. Yes, it could be good for her to shadow you at work. Set specific hours that will represent her schedule. If you can pay her something for her time, all the better, as it will serve as incentive for her to get up. Give her specific responsibilities, and hold her accountable for them.

You should also allow her time to spend with friends. Look at your city's website to see what activities are happening for teens, and encourage your daughter to participate in some of them with her friends. Whenever you can organize a mother-daughter or family activity, include that, too.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I was invited to a pool party this summer by a woman at my job who has a lovely home and outdoor pool. It sounds like a fabulous party, and I want to attend, but I cannot swim. I am not sure if it is assumed that everyone will get in the pool. We are all adults. I have been to other parties where there was a pool, and many people sat around and socialized. Do you think it’s OK for me to do that? I don’t want to talk about the fact that I cannot swim, but I also don’t want to put myself in a dangerous situation. -- Pool Party

DEAR POOL PARTY: It is very common at adult pool parties for people to enjoy themselves without so much as putting their toes in the water. The pool easily serves as a backdrop for the festive occasion. You will not be alone. Wear something lightweight and summery, but not a swimsuit; in that way, your attire makes it clear that you do not intend to swim.

Chances are, nobody will try to force you to swim. When people go in the water, feel at ease sitting on a pool chair and watching the show. If you are invited to get in the water, say no thank you. Do not say that you forgot your swimsuit, because the host will likely offer you one of hers. Just say no and leave it at that.

(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.)