DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter has been dating the same boy for two years. They seem to be in love. We like him and his family.
About six months ago, my daughter came to me to ask me to help her get birth control. We talked about what she was considering, and I helped her. I did not tell my husband. He is very conservative and would be upset to learn that his daughter is no longer a virgin. I was being practical. Whether or not I helped her, she was making the decision to be sexually active. I feel bad, though, keeping this from my husband.
The young man recently asked to marry our daughter. Should I keep this secret to myself, or should I tell my husband that they are already intimate? -- My Daughter's Secret
DEAR MY DAUGHTER'S SECRET: Now would not be the time for you to come clean about your daughter's sexual history. Clearly, she and her boyfriend are preparing to formalize their relationship. This is great news. Your daughter's intimate relationship with her boyfriend is her business. Let her have control over that. Instead of fretting over what you didn't share with your husband, pay attention to the future. Talk to your husband about how the two of you can support them as they start their life together. Invite him to participate in the wedding plans. Ultimately, his wish for his daughter is coming true. He does not need to know the details of how they got there.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I work in a high-pressure environment. The only way I figured out how to be successful was to put 100% of my focus on work and not to date or even spend time with friends. It was a bit lonely, but I did rise to the top of my industry.
Now, though, as a woman in my 40s, I wonder if it was worth it. Many of the women I grew up with have built good careers while also having husbands and children -- not all of them, but a lot. I was asked to speak at a mentoring event, and I am conflicted about what to say. I want to be honest, but I don't want to discourage young women from entering my field. How can I be truthful and encouraging at the same time? -- Giving Advice
DEAR GIVING ADVICE: When you speak to the group of professional hopefuls, tell the truth. Talk about the steps you took to get to where you are, what you have enjoyed about the journey and what the downfalls have been. Point out that you felt you had to be laser focused in order to rise as quickly as you did. Let them know that this meant you allowed little time for friends or dating. While that seemed fine at the time, you now realize that you gave up precious years that you can't get back. Talk about your happiness as well as your regrets. What satisfies you about your life? What do you wish you had achieved that you don't have? Would you do it over again in the same way? What would you have done differently? Your honest answers to your own questions will show these young women that the journey is not simple and that all choices have consequences. End on a positive note that is honest and shows a path for success.
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.