DEAR HARRIETTE: Now that the gun issue is top of mind, I have begun to question the people I know who may have guns and the lives of my children. I never thought to ask parents if they own guns before I allow my children to visit their homes. Now I think it's a question to ask, especially if I am planning to allow my children to go for a sleepover.
How do you recommend I bring this up? I know it's a political hot button. I want to protect my children. Honestly, I'm not sure if I want my children to spend the night at someone's home if they have guns. How do I address this? -- Children and Guns, Philadelphia
DEAR CHILDREN AND GUNS: First, figure out what your stance is regarding your children going to sleepovers with families who have guns. You have to be clear on your view so that when you talk to parents you know where you intend to draw the line.
If guns and ammunition are properly stored, they should be childproof, which means the guns are stored in bags with the ammunition kept separate, out of reach of children.
How to ask? Just do it. You can frame the question by saying you have begun to think about the issue of weapons in the home due to the many incidents of late with children inadvertently getting their hands on guns and hurting or killing innocent people. State whether you have guns and, if so, how you store them, and then ask if these parents have guns in the home. Be upfront about your concerns for your child's safety. If the people you're speaking with have guns, find out how they are stored. Make your decision based on those facts.
DEAR HARRIETTE: My co-worker complains about her weight nonstop. She talks about all the things she does to lose, from cutting carbs to going to the gym, to drinking water and more. I have listened to her pledges about losing weight for years now, all the while having her judge me with disparaging comments because I am overweight.
Now that I have lost 20 pounds, she hasn't changed her tune. She continues to use me as a punching bag. I don't appreciate it. In her view, I think I'm better than other people now because I have lost weight. I can't win. What can I do to get her off my back without inciting more negativity? -- Punching Bag, Salt Lake City
DEAR PUNCHING BAG: Your co-worker is a bully. You can choose to ignore her and continue on your path to wellness or you can call her out on her behavior. For the latter, stop her when she begins to talk about you. Tell her she would be better off using her energy to take care of herself.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)