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home : columns : dear harriette August 9, 2020

4/29/2020 7:57:00 AM
Teenage daughter angry about parent's strictness

DEAR HARRIETTE: My teenage daughter keeps asking to go out and hang with her friends. I have been strict, requiring her to stay at home with me each day during our stay-at-home order. I have followed the guidelines to the letter. But one of her best friends goes out with another friend almost every day. They visit each other's homes. They take walks. And they end up having a lot of fun. We do not live near them, and I don't think that's a good idea anyway, but my daughter is furious that I am so strict. What do you think about my rules? -- Limitations

DEAR LIMITATIONS: Your strictness may just be what will save your daughter's life -- and your own. You may want to acknowledge that you know you are being particularly strict about her movements, but remind her why. Point out the reality that this virus is spread by human interaction and contact, though it is invisible and, therefore, impossible to know if you are encountering it. Apologize to your daughter for keeping her from what might surely be fun times with her friends. Remind her that you are looking at the big picture. You want her to have years of fun, and you are willing to make the sacrifice of a few weeks or months of quarantine if it will gain you many healthy years to come. Encourage your daughter to use social media and other forms of interaction to stay in touch with her friends.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have noticed that petty crimes are increasing in my neighborhood in New York City. I have the Citizen app, which reports incidents in your neighborhood. For the past few weeks, there have been lots of muggings, robberies and people held at knifepoint. I'm not exaggerating. I feel nervous to go outside, especially to go to the bank. In my friend's building, they established a neighborhood watch kind of thing, where you can ask someone to walk with you to the bank to minimize your risk of being robbed. The people in my building are not that friendly, but I'm wondering if it might be worth it to try to organize something like that. Do you have any suggestions? -- Neighborhood Watch

DEAR NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH: It is a good idea to create some kind of coalition in your building or among friends who live nearby. To get the group going, post a sign in your building and schedule a Zoom or Skype call to discuss the idea. Create an email group with friends where you consider the logistics. Take action and see how it develops.

If you organize with your building, make sure you confirm that the people who sign up are legitimate tenants. You may want to create time periods when people are available to go outside, or it could be a more fluid system where folks reach out when they need to make a run.

Walking in pairs -- with proper physical distancing -- is a smart way to protect yourself and complete your chores. Do your best to keep your money and telephone out of view. Do not carry large, cumbersome bags. Keep your eyes open.

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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