DEAR HARRIETTE: I have family in Texas and have been begging them to come and stay with me. Already my Houston family has been displaced, but they want to stay in town to clean up and try to get their lives back. I understand they need to get their insurance activated and all, but they are living in a temporary shelter. I don't see why they can't work on the phone with the insurance company and governmental offices at least for the short term.
My cousins are not listening to the voice of reason, at least as far as I am concerned. How can I get them to reconsider? They have two young children. I don't think a shelter is any place for them during this time. -- Rescue Mode, Cincinnati
DEAR RESCUE MODE: You cannot force your family to come to you even if you do think it's a good idea. You might consider offering to take their children until they get their home back. It might be possible for you to get them into a local school temporarily. Offer to help them in that way.
If that option is not viable either, ask what you can do to support them. They may need money -- even if it's a small amount. Make it clear that your interest is in supporting them in whatever ways you can.
DEAR HARRIETTE: Every time the U.S. Open happens, my parents start up again saying they want me to become a tennis player. I like the game a lot, but mainly I like to watch it. My dad played tennis in high school and college, and he wanted to go pro but never qualified. I think he wants to live vicariously through me.
The thing is that I like to play volleyball some, but more I'm into music. I play the clarinet, and I want to be able to see how far I can go with that. How can I convince my dad especially that I need to follow my dreams, not his? -- Music, Not Tennis, Raleigh, North Carolina
DEAR MUSIC, NOT TENNIS: It's time to drum up the courage to speak directly to your father about your dreams. Point out that you know how passionate he is about tennis, because that was his dream as a young man. Make it clear your dreams are different. Sports in general is not at the top of your list, and definitely not tennis. Yes, you enjoy watching it, but you do not want to play it.
What you do want to play is the clarinet. Do some research on what you can do with the clarinet -- such as playing in an orchestra -- so you can tell your father how interested you really are in pursuing the instrument. Don't overplay it, though. If you love the clarinet as a hobby, say that. If you want to consider going pro, let your dad know. Ask him to give you space to figure out what you want to do with your life.