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home : columns August 21, 2017

Reader nervous about mom's new beau

DEAR HARRIETTE: My 85-year-old mother has a suitor! She recently moved into a retirement community, and there's a gentleman there who has taken a fancy to her. She sounds all bubbly on the phone when she talks about him. I am happy for her, but I feel like the mother of a teenager.  

 

Monday, August 21, 2017


Anderson Jewelers

Daughter exposed to cutting while at camp
DEAR HARRIETTE: My 13-year-old daughter just got home from camp, where she had a great time. I did learn something disturbing, though: One of the girls was caught cutting herself in the bathroom and had to be sent home. It turns out that several of the girls have tried cutting their wrists bit by bit over time. I was shocked. 
Saturday, August 19, 2017

Reader needs help with manipulative client
DEAR HARRIETTE: I feel like I'm always fighting with my main client about every little thing. She does the nickel-and-dime dance. Whatever we are working on, she tries to get me (and her other contractors) to pitch in about 30 percent of the work for free. She does this by asking for favors and then throwing in that she wants us to volunteer for whatever those favors are. Whenever I have pushed back, she gets her back up and says things that make me feel like I'm being selfish by wanting to be paid for my services. This has been going on for a few years -- the entire time she has been my client. I bet you are going to say I should walk away, but it isn't that easy. I need the work, and I like the project. I just don't appreciate the way that my client constantly tries to manipulate me. How can I tamp that down? -- Enough Already, Atlanta
Friday, August 18, 2017

Reader unsure about befriending ex-wife
DEAR HARRIETTE: My ex-wife recently contacted me to tell me she has fallen on hard times. She had remarried some years back, and her husband turned out to be a jerk. He was abusive, and she finally got the courage to leave. She has been picking up the pieces of her life for a few years, including moving into her own apartment, getting a job and trying to get her act together. I felt sorry for her when she called. We have been apart for many years, but there is no animosity between us. I think she would like for us to be friends. I'm not sure what to do. I don't want to get caught up in her issues, but I do care about her. What should I do? -- Ex Mess, Des Moines, Iowa
Thursday, August 17, 2017

Son won't wake up before noon
DEAR HARRIETTE: My teenage son just came home from camp, and all he does is sleep. He has been home for a few days now, and literally I cannot get him out of bed until after 12.
Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Employer has no respect for reader's time
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a client who has very little regard for the people she works with. She says that she wants all hands on deck to help her with whatever big project she is working on, but then she doesn't set herself or the project up for success. Most recently, she sent an email for a mandatory meeting at 11 a.m. on Sunday -- church time. And the request (or demand) was sent at 11 p.m. the night before. I was headed out when I noticed the invitation, so I canceled my plans and stayed in, which made me resentful of her and unhappy not to be able to go to church. When we got on the call, she didn't even bother to acknowledge that she had inconvenienced us, because she doesn't care. 
Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Reader and friend have different ideas about dating
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a teenage daughter, and my good friend has a teenage son. She has very different ideas about teens and dating than me. I think that it is natural for teenagers to be attracted to each other. Sometimes that turns into crushes and even dating. When monitored, teenagers going out and getting to know each other, going to events and spending time together seems normal to me. My friend says teens should not be allowed to date until they are over 16. She thinks it is distracting and dangerous.
Monday, August 14, 2017

Night owl needs to address real issue of sleeplessness
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have always been a night owl, but now it's catching up with me. I stay up late watching lame TV shows, and then I can hardly get up in the morning to start my day.
Saturday, August 12, 2017

Reader must put foot down regarding favors
DEAR HARRIETTE: A guy who went to college with me has kept in touch over the years, always asking me to do him favors -- for free -- for his various business ideas that he is building in order to make a profit. When he first started with his requests, I tried to comply to be nice. While we were not close in college, I did know him. I figured it's collegial to help each other out. But his requests typically come with great urgency and absolutely never with a paycheck.  
Friday, August 11, 2017

Reader needs answers for nosy friends
DEAR HARRIETTE: Every summer for the past 15 years, my family and I have gone on vacation to the beach. This year has been difficult. I lost my job a few months ago, and we have had to cut back on our activities a lot. We managed to scrape together enough money to send our son to the camp he has attended for the past few years, but that meant that there was no money left for my husband and me to do anything more than whatever we can do locally. Friends keep asking us what's up, why we aren't heading to the sun like usual. Do I tell the truth -- we just can't afford it this year? Or do I say we decided to stay home and work on our house, which is also true? I'm not sure how forthcoming is appropriate. -- No Sun, No Fun, Dayton, Ohio
Thursday, August 10, 2017

Reader wants to visit mom, but not too soon
DEAR HARRIETTE: My 90-year-old mother just moved into a retirement community because she could not live on her own anymore. My siblings and I have helped her to make this transition, and it's going well. She seems to be more active since there are other people around. I live in a different state and feel like I want to go visit her before the summer is out. At the same time, I want to give her space to settle into her new home. Should I wait? She has been in this place now for about a month. -- Missing Mama, Denver
Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Friends disagree about disciplining children
DEAR HARRIETTE: I just got into a heated discussion with a good friend about disciplining children. Typically, I stay away from these kinds of conversations because I know that people have various ways of dealing with their kids, but this was different. She told me a whole long story about how she had physically "handled" her teenage son so that he would listen to her. Then she asked me what I would do if I were in her situation. She asked! So I told her that I do not think that resorting to violence helps to teach kids how to behave. In fact, I think it can help teach kids to resort to violence rather than learn a lesson. She listened, but I could tell she wasn't going to do anything different. Should I bring it up again? How do I handle this topic moving forward? We are close friends, and we see each other a lot. -- Roughed Up, Dallas
Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Employee leaves reader without many options
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have an employee who has worked with me remotely for about two years. She is a college student. She would turn in her work once a week like clockwork until last semester, when she became more erratic. I communicated with her about her tardiness. She apologized and assured me that she would do better. This summer, she has been very spotty in turning in her work, even after we had an exchange about the importance of following up and being professional. 
Monday, August 7, 2017

Reader ashamed of financial status
DEAR HARRIETTE: I spent Sunday afternoon talking to a friend who started her life on welfare and who is wealthy now. I was inspired by her, but I was also sad. I have not saved money well and am essentially broke. I'm in my mid-50s, and I really don't think that I can get out of this hole. Meeting this friend and hearing about her life made me think there may be a chance that I can turn a corner and not remain impoverished until death. I am so ashamed that I don't know what to do. Is it too late to talk to a financial adviser about turning my finances around? -- Too Late, Queens, New York
Saturday, August 5, 2017

Reader wants to connect with ailing grandfather
DEAR HARRIETTE: I went home for a family reunion last month, and it was so much fun. The one thing that was hard was seeing my grandfather. He is so frail. I hardly ever talk to him, and now I realize that he probably won't be alive much longer. I want to be closer to him during the time he has left. Practically speaking, we live far from each other and he's hard of hearing, so it doesn't work well to talk on the phone for more than a couple of minutes. What can I do to let him know how much I love him and to stay in touch? -- Coming Together, Chicago
Friday, August 4, 2017

Reader worried about friend's possible drinking problem
DEAR HARRIETTE: I went out to dinner with a group of friends last weekend. We had a lot of fun, but one of my friends got pretty wasted. We had to collect her from the restroom, where she had been vomiting. It was embarrassing, as we were at a fancy restaurant. 
Thursday, August 3, 2017

Reader having doubts about daughter at sleepaway camp
DEAR HARRIETTE: My 13-year-old daughter is at sleepaway camp. She seems to be having a wonderful time. We speak to her once a week, and the reports are always great. This is her fourth year at the camp, which also helps us to feel at ease. That is, until we got a message that one of the campers had tried to hurt herself the other day. The message was vague, though we were told that our daughter was fine and the camp has talked to all of the girls in the affected group. I spoke to my daughter, who is fine.
Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Reader questions 90-year-old mother's diet
DEAR HARRIETTE: I recently noticed that my 90-year-old mother eats a lot of sweets. Specifically, she eats dessert every single day. She has even been asking my niece to buy cookies for her on a regular basis. This made me a little nervous. Diabetes runs in my family. Though she doesn't have it, I feel like eating sweets every day can't be good for her body. 
Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Reader shocked that cousin isn't wealthy
DEAR HARRIETTE: I just learned that one of my cousins, who I always thought of as rich and settled, has to sell his house -- and fast. I thought the house was fully paid, since he has had it for many years. Instead, he had refinanced a few times when he had some financial bumps, and now he has a relatively low-paying job and can't afford to pay the mortgage. I feel horrible for him. I know these things happen sometimes, but I think everybody thought of him as the one who was stable, if not wealthy. How can I be supportive of him when I still feel shocked by the news he shared with me? -- Incredulous, Seattle
Monday, July 31, 2017

Reader wonders what to take to well-off hostess

DEAR HARRIETTE: My friend "Beatrice" is very well-off and never wants for anything. She so rarely has a lack of something in her life that I have no idea what to take over when she entertains. I think that showing up empty-handed is in poor taste, yet I have no idea what I can take her that she doesn't already have 80 of! -- Got It All, Denver 



Saturday, July 29, 2017

Son's inconsiderate eating must be addressed
DEAR HARRIETTE: My teenage son, "Alex," eats large amounts of food. This is to be expected for a growing boy, and I'd estimate he eats six full meals a day. He eats everything in the refrigerator, on the counters and in the pantry.  
Friday, July 28, 2017

Reader struggles to stay motivated amid turnover
DEAR HARRIETTE: I accepted a position at a company that's been experiencing a lot of turnover. I didn't know this until I started working here, and I find that it makes it hard for me to stay motivated when I see people leaving every few months. The office is fairly small (around 20), yet I have seen four new hires in my two months working here. How can I stay motivated at a company where all the others just pack their bags when it gets tough? -- Keep Your Head Up, Arlington, Virginia
Thursday, July 27, 2017

Reader questions whether to stick up for boss
DEAR HARRIETTE: My boss, "Sara," isn't the most well-liked person at my company. Sara leaves her packages lying around, is very brash and rarely cleans up after herself. Other employees make snarky comments about her behind her back when she is not at work. There's no way to deny that she is all of the previously stated things (she has asked someone if they are pregnant or just "got fat"). 
Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Reader unsure what to do about air conditioning
DEAR HARRIETTE: My air-conditioning unit has not been functioning in my apartment in this summer heat. "Thomas," my landlord, has been completely useless and ignores my complaints. I don't have the cash to threaten him with a lawsuit, but I want to stand up for myself.
Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Reader doubting friend's salary brag
DEAR HARRIETTE: My friend "Alanna" makes significantly more money than me, even though we work in similar fields. When I first found out, I was angry at my company for such a large difference in salary, but now I am doubting Alanna's brag about how much she makes. She could be trying to help me assert my worth, but I don't know whether to trust my friend or the person setting my salary. Should I ask Alanna for proof of her salary or just brush this off as typical financial gloating? -- Even the Playing Field, Detroit
Monday, July 24, 2017

Stepfather's sexist remarks irritate reader
 DEAR HARRIETTE: My stepfather has been making increasingly sexist comments whenever I visit him and (mostly) my mother. Now that they have been married a few years, I believe he thinks it's acceptable to let his guard down and spew his thoughts about how "women aren't really fit for the workplace." I know it's a bunch of malarkey, but it still angers me that my mother doesn't say anything to him. She's been working for over 30 years! Is it not my place to speak up? I feel like he says this to get a rise out of me. -- Ignoramus Stepfather, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Saturday, July 22, 2017

Reader questions whether to tell on sister
DEAR HARRIETTE: My little sister has been pretending to take her ADD medication by half swallowing it as she walks out the door in front of my mom and coughing it up as she walks to the bus to go to school. I have seen her do this over a dozen times out the window, so I know it's not a one-time thing. Should I tell my parents about what I'm seeing? She has gotten bad reports at school, and they think this medication will help her. -- Sip and Swallow, Milwaukee
Friday, July 21, 2017

Reader upset co-workers are giving intern orders
DEAR HARRIETTE: This summer, I am directly managing an intern for my operations team. Whenever my intern has some downtime, I encourage her to go check out other departments of the company so she can learn during her time with us. 
Thursday, July 20, 2017

Reader doesn't trust mechanic's diagnosis
DEAR HARRIETTE: I believe my car repairman is taking advantage of me. Admittedly, I don't know much about my car and how it functions, but "Jeff" gives me quotes about how many hundreds it will cost to replace parts on a fairly new American-made car after I go in to change my oil. He makes this seem like such a pressing issue, but I can't help but feel like he's just trying to squeeze every penny out of me. There are only two repair shops in town, so I choose between high prices or lies from Jeff. How can I assert myself so he stops trying to hold my car hostage? -- If It Ain't Broke, Aberdeen, Maryland
Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Reader can't stop overeating
Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Nephew wants friends to crash small dinner
DEAR HARRIETTE: My nephew is in town visiting with some of his high school buddies. We agreed that he would come to dinner with my family and me one evening. 
Monday, July 17, 2017

Reader feels hindered by food allergies
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a ton of food allergies, and sometimes when I am at a restaurant, it can be embarrassing to order food. I scrutinize the menu carefully all the time, but if not all of the ingredients are listed, I sometimes find myself in trouble.
Saturday, July 15, 2017

Family mocks reader for wanting to get online degree
DEAR HARRIETTE: I want to go back to school and get my bachelor's degree. I think it will help me to earn more money in my field. When I tell my family and friends about my dream, they laugh at me and don't seem to take me seriously.  
Friday, July 14, 2017

Reader feels crush of debt while looking for work
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been working freelance for the past 10 years or so, and it has been a rocky road. Sometimes I've had great contracts. Other times, not so much. This year has been especially tough, and I am broke. Really broke. I have credit card debt, and I feel like my whole world is collapsing on me.
Thursday, July 13, 2017

Dad angry over daughter's report card
DEAR HARRIETTE: The way I grew up, the only grade my father considered worth getting was an A. He thought getting 100 on a test was the only acceptable score. While I was an A student, I found it extremely stressful to try to live up to his expectations. That's why when I had my daughter, I decided not to put that same kind of pressure on her. I expect her to do well, but I do not enforce strict rules about grades.  
Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Mom stressed thinking about daughter away at camp
DEAR HARRIETTE: My 9-year-old daughter is going to sleepaway camp for the first time this summer, and I am a basket of nerves. She is quite independent for her age, and we have gotten excellent reports about the camp. I'm not worried about her safety. I just know how much I'm going to miss her. The most time we have spent apart from each other is a week when I had to go on a trip for work. The camp allows parents to call children only once a week. How can I stay calm when I am going to be separated from my baby for two whole weeks? I'm already driving my husband crazy just thinking about it. -- Separation Anxiety, Alexandria, Virginia
Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Reader feels bad about letting down friend
DEAR HARRIETTE: An acquaintance of mine asked me to read a script that he had written, but I have never gotten around to reading it. It was such an awkward moment when he asked me to read it, in person in a restaurant, that I felt compelled to say yes, but then I was either too busy, uninterested or forgetful to complete the circle. I see this guy occasionally, and I know he remembers. This was something he had worked on for a very long time. I feel bad that I agreed to do something and then reneged on it. I have no idea where the script is anymore. 
Monday, July 10, 2017

Reader bothered by intern tardiness
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have recently been promoted at my company, and I now directly manage the interns. One of the interns is consistently 10 to 15 minutes late to work. She always stays later than the other interns, but I think she should be prompt instead of making it up later. The company as a whole is relaxed about working hours, but this isn't the example I want set. -- Tick Tock, Seattle
Saturday, July 8, 2017

Former boss's text doesn't bother reader
DEAR HARRIETTE: I recently texted with my former boss because I found an old picture of her with some former colleagues and thought she would like to have it. Her response was immediate, but it included a curse word. I was surprised because she doesn't curse, but I didn't think much of it. She wrote back immediately apologizing and saying she couldn't believe that a swear word had been sent by her. She quickly figured out that she had mistyped. She was so embarrassed. Even though I assured her it was no big deal, it really bothered her. Was there more that I should have said? -- Awkward Exchange, Atlanta
Friday, July 7, 2017

Brash man needs to learn what "quiet" means
DEAR HARRIETTE: I commute to work via rail every day. There are designated quiet cars in the back of the train. Here, people typically stay silent and allow others to get some extra shuteye or read the paper. Recently, there's been a brash businessman talking loudly on the phone in the quiet car. I hoped this would happen only once, but it's been more than a week. He is quiet when the conductor comes by, and then he begins barking about business deals. What can I say to him that'll get my message across? He doesn't seem like he'd take kindly to being told to can it. -- Shh!, Scarsdale, New York
Thursday, July 6, 2017

Reader questions refusing lunch with co-workers
DEAR HARRIETTE: I bring a packed lunch from home every day to work. Usually, the entire office goes out to eat at a swanky place where lunch and a beverage will cost $20. They ask me to join them, but I have a perfectly good lunch already made for a fraction of the cost. Should I start going out with them? I feel like my lunch makes me seem antisocial in the office. -- From Home, Westchester, New York
Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Reader angry when friend swoops in on girl he likes
DEAR HARRIETTE: I've liked "Bri" for nearly two years. She was in a relationship at the time, and I respected this, so when she recently became single, I was elated to have my chance with her. I expressed my feelings to my friend "Jeff" before I asked Bri to spend time with me, and a few days later, Bri was going on a date with Jeff! I feel like he totally took her from me. Should I confront Jeff about being a bad friend? -- Bro Code, Dallas
Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Reader questions what to do before grandfather's death
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a pretty strained relationship with my grandfather. He was not a great parent, and my father hasn't spoken to him in over 20 years.  
Monday, July 3, 2017

Reader needing money wants to try yard sale
DEAR HARRIETTE: I desperately need to make a few dollars. I have been out of work for several months now, and I can't pay my bills. 
Saturday, July 1, 2017

Husband badgers wife about going skydiving
DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband wants to go skydiving. I told him he could go by himself, because I have no interest in going. He wants me to do it with him and won't stop bugging me about it. He won't do it alone. Should I do it? I am so nervous, and I have a little fear of heights. -- Skydiving, Seattle
Friday, June 30, 2017

Reader worried to have braces throughout high school
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have to get braces, and I am upset about it. The orthodontist says I am going to have them for four years. I am nervous because I am going to have them for the majority of high school. I am scared I am going to look so bad with them. I don't want braces. How should I prepare myself? -- Braces for Life, Detroit
Thursday, June 29, 2017

Reader puts foot down on son's wild hairstyle
DEAR HARRIETTE: My 14-year-old son wants to dye his hair red and get a mohawk. I am strongly opposed to it, and I won't let him do it. He is mad at me and will not speak to me. I don't know what to do. Should I let him do it? -- Red Mohawk, Las Vegas
Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Shy teen doesn't want to wear glasses
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a shy 13-year-old. I recently went to the eye doctor, and I found out I need glasses. I don't want glasses, and my mom won't let me use contacts. Glasses make me look like a bug. I am very anxious. How do I cope with it? -- Four Eyes, Denver
Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Son's iphone obsession worries reader
DEAR HARRIETTE: I found a recent segment on "60 Minutes" -- regarding modern technology and the overuse of smartphones by teenagers -- concerning. The report noted that the goal of these phones and available applications on these devices is to compel overuse by stimulating pleasure hormones in the brain to the point of addiction for many users, particularly teenager users.   
Monday, June 26, 2017

Friend's behavior causes reader to want distance
DEAR HARRIETTE: Recently, one of my friends broke up with her boyfriend. She claims that since she hasn't been single in a long time, she can do whatever she wants with boys. Her actions have been a little out of control. She is betraying her girlfriends, including me. Every time somebody tells her she has changed, she gets really defensive. I have begun to distance myself from her. She keeps asking me what is wrong, or what she did. I am not sure what to do because I want to simply avoid drama, but I also want her to understand what she is doing. -- Girl 4 Girl, Portland, Oregon
Saturday, June 24, 2017

Friend's tardiness irks reader
DEAR HARRIETTE: A few days ago, I waited for my best friend to come outside of her home for 30 minutes. I ended up leaving and eating at a restaurant alone so I could continue with my day. She never apologizes when this scenario happens because she justifies it I can always carry on with our plan without her. Should I cease the invites until she figures out how to read a clock? -- Get Out, Philadelphia
Friday, June 23, 2017

Reader tired of weight-related comments
DEAR HARRIETTE: I was always overweight as a teen and young adult. I recently lost a considerable amount of weight. Although I am happy with this change, I hate when people comment only on my appearance and tell me how much more attractive I am now that I've shed the pounds. Is there any way I can steer the conversation to my personality or accomplishments that don't have to do with how I look to other people? It seriously irks me that people just give their unsolicited opinions on my body. -- Don't Want It, Glen Burnie, Maryland
Thursday, June 22, 2017

Daughter's viewing history sparks conversation
DEAR HARRIETTE: Against my wishes, my preteen daughter watched an online show that is very graphic in terms of sexual assault, underage drinking and suicide. I only know that she watched it after looking at her online account, and I don't know if I should punish her or use this as a teachable moment. I'm sure sitting down with her mother to talk about these hard-hitting topics would be enough to make her squirm, but my husband thinks I should just take away access to the streaming service. How should I react to my daughter going behind my back? -- All Topics Welcome, Seattle
Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Reader needs help filling time this summer
DEAR HARRIETTE: I didn't get an internship offer from any of the companies that I interviewed with. I have three months ahead of me, and my best job opportunity looks like baby-sitting or being a housekeeper -- and I can't put these jobs on my already-sparse resume. What do I do now? It is too late to snag an internship, considering all of my friends got approved for theirs weeks ago? -- Bummer Summer, Madison, Wisconsin
Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Reader doesn't feel close to close friend
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been friends with "Kelly" for about five years. She sees me as one of her closest friends, but honestly, I don't know much about her. Kelly is very reserved and is a homebody. I have met her siblings and boyfriend a few times, but other than that, I find our time together is me sharing my life and mishaps with her. I try to ask her about her life, but this is always met with deflection. Is there anything else I can do to make Kelly open up to me and stop being so distant? -- Let Me In, Boston
Monday, June 19, 2017

Reader loses one of mom's earrings
DEAR HARRIETTE: I lost one of my mom's earrings, which she let me borrow for a party. I know that she is going to be so mad at me if I tell her I lost the earring. She told me to put them in a plastic bag when I took them off so I wouldn't lose them. I skipped that step. Should I wait until she asks for the earrings or just tell her that I lost one of them? -- One Earring Left, Portland, Oregon
Saturday, June 17, 2017

Friend takes dying dog with him everywhere
DEAR HARRIETTE: My friend, "Jack," has a very old dog who he takes everywhere. Jack's defense for this is that his dog is dying, and he wants him to experience as much as possible. I understand the love one has for a furry companion, but I can't imagine taking my dogs anywhere while their health is failing. His dog has thrown up in my home on multiple occasions. Should I say something to Jack about how upsetting and inappropriate it is for him to take his dog everywhere? -- Thumbs Preferred, Bethpage, New York 
Friday, June 16, 2017

Family disapproves of reader's style
DEAR HARRIETTE: My family has a formal manner of dressing, and I have never been a fan of changing into a dress just to go downstairs for family dinner. My mother and sister especially rag on my style and tell me to stop being so "sloppy" and to "try a little." I tend to spend my money on outdoor gear or plane tickets, not $300 shoes. Is there any way I could get them to appreciate my laid-back style, or do I just have to learn to let their comments roll off my back? -- Not en Mode, Salem, Massachusetts
Thursday, June 15, 2017

Grandmother won't take medication
DEAR HARRIETTE: My grandma has been experiencing early symptoms of dementia and has been growing increasingly irritated with the family. My aunt persuaded her to see a doctor, and Grandma was on medication that made her -- and everyone around her -- happier. When her symptoms went away, she stopped taking her medication. My aunt has reached out to me to try to talk some sense into my aging grandmother. What can I say to her to approach this topic sensitively but firmly? Everyone's patience is wearing thin. -- Getting Better, Milwaukee
Wednesday, June 14, 2017

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
Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Sister's indecision puts strain on family
DEAR HARRIETTE: My sister is very indecisive. She does not understand that her behavior influences others' lives. For example, she bailed on a family vacation after we had already paid for it, citing that she just doesn't feel like it is the right decision anymore. How can I balance her indecisiveness without going insane? I can't just exclude my sister from family gatherings. -- Choose One, Minneapolis
Monday, June 12, 2017

Friend moving back puts reader in awkward position
DEAR HARRIETTE: A close friend who moved away a few years ago is now moving back to my town. We fell out of contact over the last year because she left. A few days ago, she came in contact, informing me that she was moving back. She never put in the effort to keep the friendship going when she moved away, so I stopped, too. 
Saturday, June 10, 2017

Reader offered new job opportunity
DEAR HARRIETTE: After being a teacher in my district for 25 years, I was offered the position of school principal. I had already been thinking about retirement and everything I still want to see in the world. I was planning on retirement in the next 10 years, but if I accept this position, that wouldn't be a possibility. The salary, however, is significantly more than I am making now. Should I take on this position to have a cushier retirement fund and sacrifice a few years still working? -- New Opportunities, Salisbury, Maryland
Friday, June 9, 2017

Daughters obsessed with posting on social media
DEAR HARRIETTE: My teenage daughters are obsessed with taking photos of themselves. Just last week, I walked into my backyard to see a bikini photoshoot they were having with each other. They explained that this is all for social media and for likes. I am not comfortable with the amount of time they spend creating an image that isn't real. Another time, they spent hours doing their makeup on a Sunday, posed against a white wall and edited these photos on their laptops.  
Thursday, June 8, 2017

Prom plans cause reader stress
DEAR HARRIETTE: Before the actual prom, there is a "pre-prom." This is where we take pictures all together and then we head over to prom. Typically, the girls plan pre-prom, and the guys do after-prom. This year, it is a little different because the guys are planning pre-prom. 
Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Reader questions timing of romantic confession
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am currently focused on building my savings account and becoming financially secure. I work a 9-to-5 job, and I bartend on the weekends, so this doesn't leave much time for myself. Recently, my friend "Alec" told me that he sees me as something more than a friend. I could see us in a relationship, but I am honestly too focused on creating stability right now. Do I let this opportunity pass me by? I barely have time for myself, let alone a relationship. -- Riding Solo, Dallas
Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Friend needs help dealing with family issues
DEAR HARRIETTE: A friend has been fighting with her parents more than usual. This friend likes to keep her life very private, but we can tell she has a lot of thoughts bottled up. She doesn't like to talk to us -- her friends -- about it because she wants us to think that she has the perfect family. She doesn't understand that every family has their fights and every child fights with her parents. We can relate. She needs someone to talk to who can keep it confidential -- maybe even a therapist. My friends want to tell her, but we know she will get upset and offended. What should we do? -- Stargirl, Providence, Rhode Island
Monday, June 5, 2017

Reader feels pressure to enroll in grad school
DEAR HARRIETTE: Many of my friends are going to graduate school post-graduation, but I have not made this decision for myself yet. My career values experience more than a master's degree, but I feel like all of my peers are continuing school and I would, quite frankly, feel stupid if I were the only one without a graduate degree. Should social pressure lead me to obtain more education, or should I try to find my way in the professional world? -- Needing More, New York City 
Saturday, June 3, 2017

Reader stressed by mom's bridezilla ways
DEAR HARRIETTE: My mother is getting remarried in a few weeks, and she has turned into a total bridezilla! My sister has been at her wit's end with her while I just try to maintain some peace in the family. I have been feeling myself burning out and have been constantly sick. My mother is asking way too much of us as she plans this fairy-tale wedding. I want her to be happy, but it's wearing on me. Should I sacrifice my health right now to keep the wedding flowing smoothly? -- Health Vs. Happiness, Milwaukee 
Friday, June 2, 2017

Student's behavior requires an intervention
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a preschool teacher, and I have had to reprimand "Adam" more times than I can remember. He is constantly touching me inappropriately on my chest or behind. I tell him this is not allowed, but he never listens to me, or he simply giggles and runs away. Adam's parents aren't very involved, so I'd feel like a burden reaching out to them, but I feel this developmental step is important for Adam to learn. Do I just bite the bullet and have them come in to speak with me? -- Paws Off, Richmond, Virginia
Thursday, June 1, 2017

Reader put in tough position with boss
DEAR HARRIETTE: My boss' son works in my department. A few days ago, my boss called me into his office to ask if I thought his son deserved a promotion. I hesitated, and my boss said I could have a few days to observe and come back to him with a final answer. I have been working in the department far longer than his son, so I would like to use this opportunity to mention that I should be considered for a promotion. Is this the right setting to do this? His son does not deserve a promotion after only a few months on the job. -- My Time to Shine, Pensacola, Florida
Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Reader should tell husband she wants anniversary celebration
DEAR HARRIETTE: My wedding anniversary is coming up soon, and I really want to do something special with my husband this time. Historically, he never wants to do anything. I always want to create some kind of celebration, and if anything happens, it's because I plan it. I wish my husband would initiate an idea for us. Since that's not likely to happen, what can I do to make the day special so that he will enjoy it as well? -- Anniversary Blues, Cleveland
Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Reader unsure how to handle friend's self-harm
DEAR HARRIETTE: I saw what appeared to be self-harm marks on my friend’s hip while we were at the beach. I didn’t want to bring more attention to these lines by asking for another opinion, but I am worried about her. Should I probe into her life even though we aren’t best friends? No one else seems as concerned as I am. -- Talk to Me, Coney Island, New York
Monday, May 29, 2017

Reader needs out of business partnership
DEAR HARRIETTE: At the last minute, I agreed to have an acquaintance help out on a project I was working on because it sounded like she might be able to bring in some much-needed funding. It turns out that her participation was shocking. She was loud and obnoxious the whole time. She did not bring in one dollar. She did turn me on to a couple of good resources for the project, but honestly, it wasn't worth it. 
Saturday, May 27, 2017

Neighbor won't leave reader alone
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a neighbor who doesn't understand boundaries. She is lonely and constantly wants to engage with me and my family, as well as other neighbors. It has gotten to be too much. She will stop by unannounced and uninvited and bang on the door or ring the bell. The time of day is of no matter to her. And if I answer and tell her it's not a good time or that I have company, she barges in anyway and inserts herself into the experience. I haven't figured out a way to get her to understand that mine is not an open door for her. I don't want to be rude, but she has gone way overboard in wearing out her welcome. SOS! -- Overboard, Brooklyn, New York
Friday, May 26, 2017

Reader reading books faster than buying them
DEAR HARRIETTE: I like to read. When I am not doing anything else, I love to sit outside and read a good book. I read them fast, and I do not want to keep spending money on books. It has added up. I have to spend my money on more important things, but losing the enjoyment is hard. What should I do? -- Bookworm, Burlington, Vermont
Thursday, May 25, 2017

Mom's shaming causes friend to monitor food
DEAR HARRIETTE: A friend's mom recently told her that she had put on a few pounds and needed to lose it. When my friend mentioned it to me, I took it as a joke, like I thought she would, because she does not need to lose weight. A few days later, I walked into her house and there were sticky notes on the food cabinets and the refrigerator. One of them said, "Do not eat unless you are hungry." The other one said, "Are you hungry?" I tried to act as if everything was normal, but that just isn't normal. I am not sure how to act or what to do. Do I do anything? -- Weight Loss, Richmond, Virginia
Wednesday, May 24, 2017











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