Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Boyfriend’s Lack of Communication Is Frustrating

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am starting to resent my boyfriend for spending so much time away from me. I knew when we started dating that he was in the Navy and that he would be out on deployment for months, but things are so much more difficult than I anticipated. Sometimes they lose Wi-Fi on the ship, and I’m not able to speak to him for several days at a time. They recently docked in another country and were able to spend a few days on land; in that time, he had access to Wi-Fi and phone signals, and still I heard nothing from him. All we have is our communication, and since that’s fleeting, we have nothing. What should I do? -- Deployed

DEAR DEPLOYED: Being apart for so long has got to be hard for both of you. If you are expressing frustration whenever you speak to him, that is not helping matters. If your tone sounds anything like it reads in this letter, chances are, your boyfriend may dread it a bit when he talks to you because you always seem upset. That may be why he hasn’t called when he had access to Wi-Fi. I know that is upsetting to you, but it could be the case.

When you next have a chance to talk, let your boyfriend know how much you miss him, but don’t attempt to place demands on him. Ask him how he is doing. Listen to see how he is managing right now. You may want to agree to communicate once a week -- Wi-Fi permitting. If you establish a pattern, it may be easier to follow through. What's most important is for you two to work this out together. Don’t try to force him. That will not work.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I took a nanny job watching two young boys without knowing exactly what I was getting into, and now I fear that I’ve bitten off way more than I can chew.

I don’t have any kids of my own. I have nieces and nephews whom I love like my own kids, and we get along incredibly well, so I’m caught off guard by my inability to connect or establish a good dynamic with the kids I am nannying. I don’t really know what to do. Their parents warned me that they could be a little difficult, but I did not expect this level of difficulty. The boys will disobey me when I ask them to do something in the politest way possible. They’ll tell their parents about how they don’t have to listen to me because I’m not their mother. I don’t know how much disrespect I can tolerate. The parents insist that they will warm up to me, but it’s been two months, and nothing has changed. What should my next step be? -- New Nanny

DEAR NEW NANNY: Make an agreement with the parents that if the children do not follow your directions, there will be consequences that both you and the parents enforce. The children need to know that you and the parents are in alignment. Agree on strategies that you can use, such as time outs, no electronics, no TV, etc., for bad behavior.

While you want to remain polite, you also need to speak to them firmly. Talk to them with authority so that they know you are the boss. When they ignore you or disobey, immediately enforce an agreed-upon punishment. When they follow your directions, reward them with an activity that they appreciate.

(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.)