Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Parent Shocked by Teen’s TV Choices

DEAR HARRIETTE: I walked into my teenage daughter’s room and saw that she was watching a program that had pretty overt sexual activity in it. When we talked, she told me that almost all of the teenage-focused programs these days have nudity and some kind of sexual activity. I was aghast. My daughter is a good girl, as teenagers go. I don’t think she is engaged in sexual activity herself yet, but I don’t want her to be able to see some of the things that are shown on these programs. She showed me some examples of popular teen shows on the streaming services, and she was right. ALL of them had sexual activity in them. I don’t want to ban her from TV. Honestly, I don’t know if that would really work anyway. What can I do to protect her? -- Rated R

DEAR RATED R: Continue to talk to your daughter about what you believe is appropriate for her to observe and what you wish would come much later. I remember when my daughter was younger, I would have her turn her head if anything suggestive came on TV. It wasn’t that we were watching inappropriate fare, either. For some time now, television programming has been dotted with age-inappropriate material. Because of that training, I can now say to my teenager that she should turn her head if something obviously inappropriate comes on.

Another approach I take is to watch programming with her and talk about what is being explored so that she isn’t sitting with that content on her own. Finally, you can check with commonsensemedia.org to determine what is appropriate for her age group. Encourage her to take responsibility for what she consumes. This will help her when you are not looking.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have some friends who are not working. Either they lost their jobs because of coronavirus, or they were already retired. Whatever the reason is, they have a lot of free time on their hands. Meanwhile, I’m still working two jobs in order to take care of my family. I am grateful to have them, but I am also worn out at the end of each day.

My friends call the moment they think I am home. They want to talk. I need some time to wind down, but if I don’t answer the phone, they call incessantly, claiming they are worried whether I am safe and healthy. I appreciate their concern, but I need some space. How can I manage my friendships? I love them and want to be there for them, but I also need to take care of myself. What should I do? -- Seeking Balance

DEAR SEEKING BALANCE: Suggest that you do a group text check-in with your friends so that everybody knows you are all OK. Make it clear that you cannot talk every night. Schedule longer conversations every week or every other week at a time when you can devote an extended period of time to conversation. Manage that chat by inviting them to talk about their lives. People love to talk. If you let your friends unload, you will have to say less while still being engaged and present with those that you love.

(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.)