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home : columns : dear harriette July 25, 2017

6/13/2017 8:52:00 AM
Reader feels unsafe after terrorist attacks

DEAR HARRIETTE: After so many recent terrorist attacks, I am afraid of being in public spaces. I do not want my adult children traveling to cities that have been attacked, either. Even using underground public transportation makes me anxious. In these times of uncertainty, what can I do to stop wanting to be a recluse? I do not feel safe. -- Safely Hiding, South Orange, New Jersey

DEAR SAFELY HIDING: There is no easy answer to your question, as locally, nationally and globally, we are dealing with a new level of seemingly daily threats. I remember from as far back as right after 9/11 that President George W. Bush urged Americans to go on with their lives -- go to work, go to school, go shopping, choose to enjoy their lives. President Obama reinforced this call for democratic behavior after the tragic shootings at schools, movie theaters and other public arenas.  

I trust that you have taught your adult children to be cautious. What you don't want is to make them afraid of what they cannot control -- random acts of terror or general violence. Instead, suggest that they check State Department reports for health and safety advisories before they travel. Remind them to be aware of their surroundings. It's wise to avoid huge crowds as well. Do not frighten them out of believing that they should be able to live free lives.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My sister, "Renata," lives in the same town as me, and we frequently have our children play together as "group baby-sitting" to get some free time. I've noticed that separately she has been using my oldest daughter as a baby sitter, but not paying her because Renata thinks that my daughter, "Anna," would be home regardless. I don't think it's right for Anna to feel burdened to baby-sit her siblings and cousins whenever her aunt sees fit. How do I confront Renata about her behavior? -- No Family Discount, Annapolis, Maryland

DEAR NO FAMILY DISCOUNT: What has yet to occur is for the two of you to set parameters for baby-sitting in your family. What is the difference between "group baby-sitting" and the times when Renata brings her children over? Renata may see no difference. It isn't obvious to me. If you want your daughter to be paid for baby-sitting the group of siblings and cousins, why not pay her for these engagements?  

You and Renata should agree on a fee that you will pay her for the group baby-sitting times. It will be your job to enforce that both of you pay your share. When Renata brings her children over to be watched, let her know what she should pay Anna for that. Follow up to ensure that she is paid. While it is expected that older children should help care for their siblings sometimes as part of family duty, it would be kind of you to pay Anna with some consistency so that she will not be confused and will learn to value her time just as you value it.

(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.)

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