Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Parents at an Impasse Over Party Planning

DEAR HARRIETTE: My son's 16th birthday is coming up and he asked if he could gather a small group of friends in the park in our neighborhood to celebrate. He spent a lot of time planning something that would be safe. This includes having no food so that people would keep their masks on 100% of the time, presetting 6-foot markers in a circle so that the teens stay separated, and having me check in with parents in advance to make sure all kids have approval.

I thought it was a good idea, all things considered. My husband thinks it is too risky. The group would be less than 10 kids. I think we should let him celebrate. The number is within the guidelines. How can I convince my husband to give a little? -- Party Time

DEAR PARTY TIME: Do more research to make sure that the guidelines continue to allow for small gatherings of 10 or fewer outdoors. Since COVID-19 outbreaks are increasing, you want to make sure that the rules haven't changed. Suggest that the two of you attend the party -- from a distance -- so that you can monitor their distancing. Your son won't like that, but this compromise might work for your husband.

DEAR HARRIETTE: Now that the election is over, I thought I would feel better. But the drama continues. I just can't take it anymore. People are still hunkering down on their political sides and arguing about the future. I thought that in America once the election was over, people were supposed to work together. What is happening to our democracy? What can I do to help? -- Frustrated

DEAR FRUSTRATED: Many people share your emotions around the turmoil surrounding the 2020 presidential election. Because some recounts are continuing, the final decision is not fully settled -- in some minds. While that process plays out, what the citizens can do is think about the future.

You are right. In this democracy, we are supposed to be able to agree to disagree and to be cordial even when we don't win our candidate or our ideals. A goal of our democracy is for us to work together even when we don't agree on everything, to assume that we all want what is best for the American people. If you adopt the attitude of being a team player and looking for ways to come together with your neighbors, your co-workers and others in your community, you may begin to feel more hopeful. 

You may want to get in touch with local officials in your community to learn how you can be of help in the political process. I'm sure that city council meetings are happening online, and other public gatherings of officials are accessible via technology. Now may be the time for you to get more involved. Volunteering politically and also with community organizations can help you to feel useful during this period.

COVID-19 has made it harder for people to engage, but technology is making it possible for us to support each other. Get involved. It should help you to be more hopeful. 

(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.)