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home : columns : dear harriette November 25, 2017

10/28/2017 10:47:00 AM
Sexual harassment issues worry parent

DEAR HARRIETTE: All this talk about sexual harassment at work is upsetting me, but more my daughter, who is about to graduate from college and wants to work in the entertainment industry. She and I have been discussing how she can protect herself from sexual predators on the job and whether she should even keep her dream of working in film given the horror stories that have been exposed about Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby before him, and so many others. How do I protect my daughter and encourage her to pursue her passion? Listening to the women who are speaking up today doesn't really make me more comfortable. They were quiet for decades so that they could grow their careers. Is that what my daughter's fate will be -- give in or go home? -- Protecting My Daughter, Cincinnati

DEAR PROTECTING MY DAUGHTER: Facing down a sexual predator on the job is a big topic of conversation today without any clear guidelines on how to proceed. The fact that many women are speaking out -- from Hollywood stars to women in other fields of business -- is a good sign. There is a lot more awareness than in the past about how rampant sexual misconduct is at work.

How that translates into protections for women at work is unclear as of yet. What you can teach your daughter is that she has the right to work in a safe environment. If anyone attempts to cross a sexual boundary with her, she can say no and report it to human resources. If more women do this, there is a chance that the perpetrators will curb their bad behavior. It is also possible that women who speak up could continue to lose opportunities in the workplace. My guess is that we will need the courageous women who are willing to fight vocally for their right to work in a safe space to change the trend that has existed for so many years.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I'm worried that my mom is losing her memory. She is in her late 80s, and I know this happens to many people as they grow older. She has aged a lot in the last year and a half, and one side effect has been that she forgets things -- important things. The other day, she forgot she was supposed to order food for herself because my sister would not be coming by to bring her a meal. The evening had been planned, but my mom totally forgot and was sitting at home hungry. We figured it out that same evening, but it was concerning. Little things like this have been happening a lot. My mom lives in a retirement community, so there are people to look out for her, but what else can we do? -- Forgetful Mom, St. Louis

DEAR FORGETFUL MOM: Have your mother's memory checked by her internist. There are tests for dementia that will let you know the severity of her memory loss. With her doctor's support, you can learn what her limitations are today and how to support her. For many elders, memory loss is common. The question will be what the severity is of your mother's memory loss and whether she needs a new level of care to support her basic needs. Partnering with her doctor will help you figure out next steps.

(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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