Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Mom Feels She Hasn’t Given as Much to Son

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a single mom with two teenage children. I spent a lot of time and energy working with my daughter to ensure that she did well in school, and I got her into a great college.

My son is more difficult. I feel like I have run out of steam. He is not a great student, and I just can’t seem to rally for him the way I did for my daughter. I know this isn’t right. How can I get motivated to get him over the hump? He is a good kid and he deserves my attention, but I have not been able to give it like I know I should. -- Slacking Off

DEAR SLACKING OFF: Now is the time for you to dig deep in your mama reserves and think about your son. Yes, you are tired -- deservedly. Being a single mom can drain you of energy because you have to do everything. But you cannot give up now. Instead, rally the troops. Find your village, and ask for support. Talk to friends who may have children with academic challenges. Talk to the guidance counselor at your son’s school to find out what can be done to support his studies. Ask adult men in your life to step in as role models to help uplift your son and point him in the right direction.

Don’t feel that you are alone. There have to be people in your community who would be willing to talk to your son and offer a helping hand. Muster up the energy to enlist their support. This should give you energy as well.

Talk to your son, and tell him that you want him to succeed and you want to do everything you can to help him, but that you need him to step up, too. Partner with him during this time before he goes to college or work. He needs to know that you have his back. This should motivate him, too.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I ran into an old flame the other day, and I have to tell you -- my heart started beating fast just like it did 15 years ago when I first met him. This man is fine! And he’s a sweetheart. We have only been friends because the timing was never right. That’s true now, too. I am married, though not happily. But I’m not trying to leave my husband or have an affair. I just am acknowledging that this man floats my boat. Do I dare tell him how my body reacts to him whenever I see him, or is this something that I keep to myself? -- Hot Flash

DEAR HOT FLASH: You already know the answer. If you can’t do anything about your feelings, don’t share them. It is not fair to anyone for you to state how this man makes you feel. Keep it to yourself. If possible, channel that energy back to your husband. Know that you have the capacity to still get all “hot and bothered” as a mature person. That’s got to be a good feeling. But do not let anyone in on the secret!

(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.)