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home : columns September 23, 2017

Brother's reputation overshadows sibling
DEAR HARRIETTE: I went to a business conference this summer and met several people who know my older brother. When they heard my name, they asked if my brother and I were siblings. I was happy to meet people who were connected to my family. Later in the evening, after everybody had had a few drinks, these same people let loose and started telling me terrible stories about my brother. One guy told me that my brother had stolen money from the job and was fired as a result.
Friday, September 22, 2017

Anderson Jewelers

Action in weight loss is the most important step
DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband and I have been about the same size since we got married, more than 20 years ago. I have gained quite a bit of weight. We have a scale that talks. I heard my husband weigh himself and, to my horror, I heard he weighs less than I do. 
Friday, September 22, 2017

Moment turns awkward after attempted kiss
DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my best friends just came on to me, and I'm not sure how to handle it. I love her, for sure. We have been close friends for more than 10 years. I feel so stupid because I didn't even know she was gay. We have talked about my boyfriends over the years. I just broke up with a guy I dated for three years. She mostly skirts the issue when I ask her about dating. She talks about being busy with work and other things. I never pressed her. I was shocked when we hung out at my house and she tried to kiss me. I flinched, and the moment got way awkward. 
Thursday, September 21, 2017

Displaced family prefers to stay in Houston
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. 
Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Teenage daughter turns snippy
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a teenage daughter who has been lovely thus far. When people have warned me about how teens turn on their parents, I've shrugged it off. I figure if I focus on the positive, we can create space for less drama. Because this is my attitude, I find myself in an uncomfortable place.
Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Open discussion important with teen
DEAR HARRIETTE: I was doing the laundry and found a condom in my 16-year-old son's jeans pocket. I was in shock. My husband and I have talked to him about sex, and they have discussed it at school too, but I never expected he would be sexually active this young. I know I can't control his behavior, but he is not a mature kid. I can't imagine this is going to turn out well. I suppose I should be happy he has a condom, but I'm worried. How can I talk to him about this without alienating him? I need to know what's going on. -- In My Face, Boston 
Monday, September 18, 2017

Friend wants to help during difficult time
DEAR HARRIETTE: A friend of mine has just had surgery. His wife contacted a group of us to let us know it was happening and that she would keep us updated as to his condition. She promised to email us after he got out of surgery, but she didn't. I have been crazy with worry. Finally I wrote to the group, excluding her, to find out if anybody had heard anything. I didn't want to worry her in case anything bad had happened to her husband.
Saturday, September 16, 2017

Parent and daughter don't agree on piercings
DEAR HARRIETTE: My 15-year-old daughter wants to get her nose and eyebrow pierced. Her best friend from school just did it, and now she thinks it's her turn. I think it's a terrible idea. I think it will limit her options for work before she even figures out what she wants to do in her life. 
Thursday, September 14, 2017

Friend takes online posting too far
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a friend who loves to take photos and videos with her phone. No matter where we are or what we are doing, we catch her posting and even streaming live. It's crazy. Last week, my other friends and I caught her posting in the bathroom at a restaurant where we were eating. Don't get me wrong. We all like to take pictures and post sometimes, but she has taken it to a different level. We want her to stop including us in these posts. What can we say or do to get her to give us some privacy? -- Out of Bounds, Denver 
Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Take neighbor's comments in stride
DEAR HARRIETTE: I see a man who lives in my building almost every morning when I go out for my morning walk. He is standing at the gate when I leave and standing right there when I return. I always greet him, which is fine. The other day it was a little weird. He told me he has noticed me doing my exercise and that I'm looking good. That was nice, but then he pointed at my belly and told me if I keep on walking, I will lose that too. 
Tuesday, September 12, 2017

A chance to build on our greatness
DEAR READERS: It is September 11 again. I will never forget that day 16 years ago, when time stopped and the world as we knew it changed. I live in Manhattan, and my office is in the Village, far enough away from Wall Street to be "safe" from the explosion and destruction of the Twin Towers, but close enough to see them burning and disintegrating as they fell. I remember seeing throngs of New Yorkers standing in the street on Sixth Avenue -- Avenue of the Americas -- looking downtown, incredulous at what was playing out before their eyes. I remember. 
Monday, September 11, 2017

Children unaware of previous marriage
DEAR HARRIETTE: I was previously married, in my early 20s. My current husband and I have been married for more than 20 years. Because that previous life is from so long ago, I don't think about it or talk about it at all. However, it came up recently because I ran into a college friend who knew my previous beau and me.
Friday, September 8, 2017

Friend feels judged during vacation
DEAR HARRIETTE: I was invited to share a house this summer with an old friend I haven't seen for years. She also invited several other old friends. We all convened on a lovely home our friend had found in a beach community. It was fun to get together and tell stories and hang out.  
Friday, September 8, 2017

Recent grad living at home can't find work
DEAR HARRIETTE: My son graduated from college in May. He did well in school and had a few internships. He has been at home since graduation, actively looking for a job but has found nothing. My husband gave him six months to find a job or find a new place to live. I know our son has been working hard at it, but so far no luck. 
Thursday, September 7, 2017

Making lists can help with packing
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a heavy packer. It's pretty bad. I always want to have choices for the activities I'm going to be participating in, so I end up packing two or three outfits per event. Then there are the shoes -- for dress, different colors, for working out, slippers, and a few extras. Plus the makeup and beauty supplies.
Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Co-worker should focus on work at the job
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have spent the past six months working out almost every day. I am proud of myself because I had almost given up. I had gotten to the point where no matter what I did, I wouldn't lose a pound. To be fair, I was a stop-and-start kind of exerciser. But still, I tried. This year I have been consistent, and it's finally paying off. I feel good about myself even though it's going slowly. A colleague of mine has noticed my work and has started to rib me. She is super fit, always eats healthy food and goes to the gym five times a week. She has taken to bragging about her workout whenever I mention anything I have done. I find it annoying and petty. Everybody can see she's practically a bodybuilder. Why can't she cut me some slack? I appreciate when people compliment me on my effort. Do I have to stop telling my story in order to get her to lighten up? -- Pushed Aside, Denver
Monday, September 4, 2017

Neighbors don't follow apartment trash rules
DEAR HARRIETTE: I live in an apartment building that has strict rules about trash disposal. Tenants are supposed to separate their trash and put it outside in the hallway between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. each day. The guy who picks it up is always on time. 
Saturday, September 2, 2017

Overweight co-workers impacting reader's diet
DEAR HARRIETTE: I work with a number of extremely overweight people. They do their work well and seem to manage fine, but they move slowly and complain incessantly about what ails them. One woman can't walk more than down a hall without stopping to catch her breath. I feel for these people. I can see them growing unhealthier by the day. At the same time, I realize that I have slacked off in my exercise routine and my eating habits. I need to turn this around for myself. Do you think I need to find a new job? Do I dare say anything to my co-workers about their weight and their choices? That feels weird and judgmental. I need to do something. Help! -- Off the Scales, Cleveland
Friday, September 1, 2017

Reader upset by selfish brother's actions
DEAR HARRIETTE: My brother moved back home after living on his own for about five years. He was living with his girlfriend during that time -- something that I didn't like so much because she didn't seem like a good influence. He started being late to work and slacking off in his responsibilities. He hardly called our mother, and did only what his ex wanted. Now, she has dumped him, and he has come back to our family home with his tail between his legs, asking my mother to take him in. I am so mad at him. He is a grown man and needs to act like one. My mother does not deserve to have to tend to his broken heart. She is old and needs to focus on herself. What can I do to get my brother to get his act together? -- Bum Brother, Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Thursday, August 31, 2017

Summer house rules aren't being followed
DEAR HARRIETTE: My boyfriend and I rented a summer house with another couple, and we made a list of agreements for what we can and cannot do. That includes who can spend the night, how many guests we can have at any particular time and responsibility for guests' needs, including for food and drink. We were clear, but that seems to have gone out the window. Our friends keep inviting other friends to come and spend the night. I usually cook, and they all eat without even offering to contribute -- money, dishwashing ... anything! We still have a few weeks left of summer. What can I say to our friends to get them to honor our agreement or make new guidelines that are fair to everyone? -- Duped, Stamford, Connecticut
Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Reader annoyed that friend backed out of weekend trip
DEAR HARRIETTE: My colleague invited my husband and me to spend the weekend with her and her family at her country home. She extended the invitation about a month ago, and we were supposed to go this upcoming weekend. I convinced my husband to go with me. He is a homebody, so his preference is always to stay close to home, but he agreed because he really likes my friend. 
Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Daughter's excursion stresses reader
DEAR HARRIETTE: My 13-year-old daughter had a sleepover with her friend, and when I called to check in on her, they were headed out to Coney Island. I am out of town, and I was shocked. I asked if she had gotten permission from my husband, and she said she had permission to go "out." I explained that "out" is different from traveling nearly an hour to a giant amusement park. She said she understood why I was unhappy. 
Monday, August 28, 2017

Teenage daughter won't get off phone
DEAR HARRIETTE: My teenage daughter walks around with her cellphone attached to her ear like it is an appendage. I feel like everything she does takes twice the time it should because she is constantly talking to her best friend while she's fulfilling a task. I like and appreciate that she has a friend who seems to be nice, but she is taking this too far. How can I regulate her telephone time without becoming the mean mom? I want to teach my daughter good habits. -- Too Much Phone Time, Milwaukee 
Saturday, August 26, 2017

Reader needs help addressing civil unrest
DEAR HARRIETTE: When I was growing up, my parents were involved in marches and other forms of activism on behalf of the civil rights movement. I remember people constantly being in our home, sharing stories of what was going on in the world and what we had to do about it.  
Friday, August 25, 2017

Son's politics may derail college scholarships
DEAR HARRIETTE: My son has become involved in the student government at his school. As political topics have come up on campus, conversations have gotten heated, and my son has taken a stand. I am proud of him, but I'm also concerned. He is up for a scholarship for college, and I worry that if he becomes too politically vocal, he could lose this important money that can help him go to college. Should I encourage him to tone down his comments so that he can look ahead to the future? -- On the Line, Atlanta
Thursday, August 24, 2017

Reader uncomfortable with friend's pleas for money
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a friend who is an artist. He has worked on many projects, and over the years he has started capital campaigns to get his friends and others to help fund his ideas. I like the fact that he is trying every way he can to pay for his ideas, but I find it uncomfortable to keep getting these pitches from him. I know him. We went to college together. I like him a lot, but I do not have the resources to continue to help fund his projects. I feel guilty for not wanting or being able to give him money when I receive requests from him in very personal ways -- like via text or direct message on social media. How can I handle this? Should I say something to him? -- Pitch Fatigue, Raleigh, North Carolina
Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Reader stunned after seeing photo of self
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been exercising regularly since May. I have lost almost a whole dress size, and I am proud of myself. It hasn't been easy, but I'm sticking to it. 
Tuesday, August 22, 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

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

Dr Paul The Dentist
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