DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a spending problem. I can't seem to stop myself from buying things online. Plus whenever I go out to the mall or something, I can't just look. I end up buying something. I don't know why I have this compulsion. My house is overrun with stuff that I have bought but don't need and have nowhere to store. I think I have a problem. I am not rich and cannot afford all this stuff. But I can't seem to stop, either. HELP! -- Compulsive Shopper
DEAR COMPULSIVE SHOPPER: Thank you for speaking up about your problem. You are not alone. Thousands of people in our country suffer from this compulsion. You have taken the first step by admitting that you have a problem in the first place.
Experts suggest that compulsive shopping usually masks a deeper problem with self-esteem in one way or another. To release yourself from this habit, it is best to go to therapy, where you can talk honestly about your life and your choices to a professional who can help you to develop healthier habits.
For support, contact theshulmancenter.com/overspending-shopping-addiction.html or Debtors Anonymous at debtorsanonymous.org.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I just learned that my daughter, a college student, is pregnant. She was doing so well in school, and now this. Our family does not believe in abortion, so she is going to have the baby. We have no idea how we will afford to take care of it, whether she will continue college or anything else. We are at a loss. My husband and I cannot afford to take the baby and care for it, and we are not in the best of health. My daughter is not with the young man, and he is not willing to help in any way. What can we do? -- Pregnant Too Soon
DEAR PREGNANT TOO SOON: Bringing a child into the world is a blessing and a responsibility. Your daughter needs to assess what she wants to do before the child is born. Among her choices is adoption. If she does not have the means on her own or with her family to provide for a child, she should figure out a healthy option that will ensure that this baby has the best life possible. Talk with her about adoption. It could occur within your family if there is someone who would like to raise a child, or through an agency.
If she wants to keep the child, your daughter may have to delay her education and get a job. Again, if you cannot support her and the baby financially for the long term, she has to figure it out. This may feel like you are abandoning her, from her perspective, but what you need to do is to be honest and transparent. Let your daughter know exactly how you envision you may be able to help and what you cannot or will not do. Then it is up to her to make choices accordingly.
(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.)