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home : columns : dear harriette November 20, 2018

2/26/2018 9:14:00 AM
Dad wants to reconnect with teenage son

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a father of three, with one son. I want to have a better relationship with him, but I don't know how to get closer to him. We used to be very close; we attended baseball games together, went out to dinner almost every week, etc.  

My son is 18 years old, which I understand is a time when teenagers spread their wings, but I miss the close relationship my son and I used to have. Every time I text him to see how he is doing or to make plans, he responds with one word. I want to reconnect with him, but I'm not sure how to do this in a way that doesn't seem too pushy. Do you have any ideas on how a father can regain the closeness with his son? -- Dad Missing Son, Denver

DEAR DAD MISSING SON: Your best chance to rekindle a close bond with your son right now is to tap into his interests. Figure out what he enjoys doing, and invite him to do that with you. It is the job of teenagers to flex their independence. They should spend time away from their parents. For this reason, you should not get too upset with him.  

Engaging him in ways that spark his interest is the best way to capture his attention -- for now. Consider inviting his friends to join you for the outings that you plan. This may also resonate for him.  

Finally, know that one-word answers are common for young people who primarily use social media. Rather than letting that upset you, realize that it is the way he communicates. More than likely, everybody gets one-word responses from him. Continue to pay close attention to your son to ensure that the distance he is creating is not a sign of bad behavior.  

DEAR HARRIETTE: I will be applying to numerous jobs in the upcoming months, and I know some places ask for letters of reference. As a businesswoman, do you think it is better to get a letter of reference from a professor the person is close with, or a previous employer who might not have as much of a personal opinion on the person?  

I will be applying to different companies, so should the letter change depending on the type of company I am applying to? -- Letters of Reference, Jackson, Mississippi

DEAR LETTERS OF REFERENCE: I recommend that you secure multiple letters of recommendation from people who know you in different ways. A professor who taught you and knows your study habits and capabilities is excellent. You should also include any employer you have worked with who you think would give you a positive report. The employer doesn't have to know you extremely well. Instead, the employer should be able to speak to your focus as an employee, your commitment to the work and your ability to get the job done.  

What's most important when you apply to different types of jobs is that your cover letter be specific to the role you are applying for. It is up to you to showcase your assets in the best possible manner. Your letters of recommendation serve as backup to your presentation.

(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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