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home : columns May 24, 2019

Reader wants to support sick friends
I feel like too many people around me are getting sick. My best friend has been battling breast cancer for several years. Another close friend's husband was just diagnosed with prostate cancer. My neighbor's husband has metastatic prostate cancer. And that's only the people closest to me. It is overwhelming for the ones who are sick and for their friends. I want to be a support to my friends, but I'm not sure how to do it. I am scared for them, and I don't really know what to say.
Friday, May 24, 2019

Socially awkward reader wants to fit in
I have constantly been labeled as "weird" or "socially awkward" by my family and peers. These terms are not ones I view as positive, and I don't like being associated with them. I don't know what specifically makes people view me as such, and I struggle because what I think of as normal obviously turns people off in a way.
Thursday, May 23, 2019

Friend wants daughter hired as intern without interview
A good friend just asked me if I can hire his college student daughter as an intern this summer. The internship that she was supposed to have fell through, and she is scrambling for something to do. I do have interns on occasion, so I am familiar with working with young people in the summer and teaching them about my work.
Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Piano-playing next-door neighbor complains of noise
My next-door neighbor recently took up the piano. He practices every evening. Sometimes it is pleasant. Other times it's annoying, as he is not good at it yet. But I admire his tenacity. It's pretty cool seeing an adult take up an instrument.
Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Reader upset that friend has drifted away
One of my best friends and I have lost contact. I could blame this on the fact that she got a job and moved to another state, but something just does not feel right. We checked up on each other while at separate colleges, so I know distance can't be the single factor in breaking our bond.
Monday, May 20, 2019

Reader must focus on one passion at a time
I am 23 years old, and when people ask me what I want to pursue in life, I am unsure how to give the proper answer. This confusion is not because I cannot find a passion, but because I have too many passions that come to mind. None of them really relate to the others, so I feel as though I cannot simply list them because it makes me sound scrambled.
Saturday, May 18, 2019

Spiritual reader having trouble with faith
I grew up religious and went to church faithfully every Sunday with my grandmother. As I grew older, I noticed that religion can and has been used to justify bad behaviors toward others. This caused me to question what I had been taught -- especially as an African American. For instance, Christianity was used to justify slavery and the killing of nonwhite people. Many Christians perpetuate an image of Jesus with blue eyes, fair skin and long hair, but I struggle with worshipping an entity that is depicted as looking like the oppressor.
Friday, May 17, 2019

Life coach is helpful, but too expensive
I used to work with a life coach a few years ago, and it was helpful. We stopped working together a while back, in part because I couldn't afford to keep hiring her. She does not accept insurance, and the weekly payment was too much for me. Now that some time has passed, though, I miss working with her and getting her sound advice on things. I am thinking of contacting her again to find out if we can make an arrangement that is more manageable for me. Do you think it's rude for me to ask for a price break or some other kind of deal?
Thursday, May 16, 2019

Reader criticizes Harriette's advice
Your advice to "Who's Watching My Baby?" was certainly not "Sense and Sensitivity." This is exactly why there are so many problems with our next generation.

Any male can contribute to the creation of a human being. It takes a real man to be a parent. You should have advised that young mother that it is time for her boyfriend to learn how to "adult" and leave his Peter Pan years behind.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Keep up the conversation about suicide
Thanks for addressing teen suicide. If a teen says he or she is suicidal, has a plan and has the means to complete that plan, then he or she should be hospitalized. These criteria are objective. Sometimes you have to ask questions to obtain this information, and some readers may be nervous about doing that. If that's the case, please remember that talking about suicide does not make people suicidal. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (, is a great resource.
Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Reader shaken by John Singleton's death
I am so upset about the fact that film director John Singleton died. He was only 51 years old. I didn't know him or anything, but I read that he had high blood pressure, and that's probably why he had a stroke. It is so scary to me that a man who must have had enough money to have good health insurance and who should have been able to afford to go to the doctor could die from this.
Monday, May 13, 2019

Dear Harriette
Saturday, May 11, 2019

Aunt wants better relationship with nephew and niece
I have a 6-year-old nephew and 2-year-old niece who live far away from me. This makes it difficult to establish that traditional relationship that aunts have with their siblings' children.
Thursday, May 9, 2019

Reader wants family to pick a new congregation
My family has lost the desire to go to church. We recently moved to a new home and have yet to find a church that suits us. The issue is that no one is making an effort to find a good option around us. I've explained my concerns before, but no one listens to me or is willing to help look for a new congregation. I am starting to believe that our lack of attendance is causing some spiritual instability within our home. How can I convince my family to take this more seriously?
Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Boyfriend won't make an effort to get along with siblings
I recently started dating a man, and we go through the same trials and tribulations as any normal couple. However, none of my siblings approve of this relationship. He has not met my family yet, but I am anxious for when that day comes.
Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Dad keeps bashing kids' lack of accomplishments
My father has an issue of saying the wrong things at the wrong time. He does not have a filter, and he often comes off as offensive when he speaks. Specifically, he does this with my siblings and me.
Monday, May 6, 2019

Dear Harriette
DEAR HARRIETTE: I walked in on my teenage son masturbating while looking at porn online. I'm not a prude, but I have to tell you -- this bothered me. I know kids (and others) do this, but I'm worried that his porn habits will catch up with him.
Saturday, May 4, 2019

Employee questions making correction to project
I completed a project for work, checked it multiple times and turned it in. I was feeling pretty confident about my work, too. Then I did one last review and noticed a grammatical error. I know that my boss hates that, and he needs to be able to send out this project to other team members and to our client. Should I update it and send a clean version?
Thursday, May 2, 2019

Potential beau doesn't have a job
I recently met a man who sparked my interest, but he does not have a job. I do not want to be shallow and just use this factor for a reason not to date him. However, I also want to be smart and realistic. Should I be supportive of him in his situation and wait for him get himself together, or should I view this as a red flag? How long should I wait this out?
Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Co-worker's daughter having suicidal thoughts
A co-worker informed me that his 13-year-old daughter is having suicidal thoughts. He asked her if she was facing bullying at school, but she denies it. He does not know where these thoughts are coming from. He is thinking about therapy, but that is it. It is a difficult situation to hear. How can I take action to support his family?
Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Reader questions leaving 26-year relationship
I have been in a relationship for 26 years, but I am still not married. I have built a life, a home and a family with this man, but we have not taken the next step. I am waiting for him to show me that he appreciates me by marrying me. It just isn't happening. I am tired of waiting. Is it worth staying, or should I finally move on?
Monday, April 29, 2019

Woman questions socially constructed gender roles
We have several gender stereotypes and expectations in our society. Specifically, men are viewed as the ones who are supposed to chase and approach women. They are also supposed to be the ones to propose marriage. This causes many women -- like myself -- to miss out on opportunities and relationships. We do not take the chance or make the first move on men. Do you feel that times should progress into a more gender-neutral society, or should these gender roles remain traditional? -- Changing Expectations
Saturday, April 27, 2019

Inexperienced business owner wants networking tips
I want to start a business selling body-care products. I have already made some creams and lotions and tested them at street fairs in my neighborhood.

I want to take it to the next level, and I understand that networking is essential. What are some ways that I can start meeting new people and getting my products out there?

Friday, April 26, 2019

New voter already feeling like vote doesn't count
I am a new voter, but already I feel like it doesn't really matter whether or not I vote. I have been paying attention to what's going on in our country, and it's not good at all. The political climate is in terrible shape. I believe that regardless of who votes for what, the government will ultimately decide on how the country is run. I wanted to get your opinion on this matter and ask if you believe voting makes a difference.
Thursday, April 25, 2019

Brother neglects responsibilities of dog ownership
My brother and I live together in a two-apartment house. I like our arrangement. Even though we are both adults, we are young, and it feels safer having him around. He has a dog -- a puppy, really -- that he got about a year ago. Because my brother is still in school and working, he is not often home when it's time to walk the dog, so I have become the default walker. I walk the dog when I get home from work. He often sleeps in my apartment because my brother gets home late. In those instances, I walk him before bed, too.
Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Online education has its pros and cons
I want to go back to get my master's degree, and I am debating whether to physically go to a campus or to take classes online. I am hesitant about the online classes because I feel it would be much easier to procrastinate. However, it would give me more flexibility with other obligations I need to take care of. What are your views on achieving degrees online?
Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Reader wants to support African American-owned businesses
I understand, as an African American, that supporting black-owned businesses is a must in the community. However, it is difficult because I find that many black business owners overcharge their clients. Do you know a reason for this, and if this issue will ever be resolved?
Monday, April 22, 2019

Spring cleaning brings up many memories
DEAR HARRIETTE: While doing some spring cleaning, I have come across quite a few nice clothing items that I forgot I had. I haven't worn them in years, but they have sentimental value. One dress was given to me by my mother, who is now deceased.
Saturday, April 20, 2019

Husband won't stop smoking weed in front of teens
DEAR HARRIETTE: My husband likes to smoke weed. Now that our children are older -- in high school -- I worry that they are going to think it's OK for them to smoke because they know their father does. No matter what I say to my husband, he won't quit.
Weed is still illegal in our state.

Friday, April 19, 2019

Friends don't want to hang out during allergy season
Spring is in the air, and like clockwork, my allergies are kicking in. I have asthma plus allergies, so I get all messed up until summer starts. I have medication and follow my doctor's directions in terms of treatment.
Thursday, April 18, 2019

After intervention, reader questions going to therapy
I am nervous about the idea of going to therapy. I was invited to go in order to build a stronger relationship with a family member, but I cannot imagine how talking to a stranger will help.
Wednesday, April 17, 2019

After Nipsey Hussle's murder, reader wants to step up
We just lost a huge leader and influencer in the black community. He went by the stage name Nipsey Hussle, and he was only 33 years old. His death has devastated many, including myself, even though I did not personally know him.
Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Friend pushing to be in romantic relationship
I have a friend who I am sort of interested in, but I'm not at all ready to be in a serious romantic relationship with. He is very interested in being with me. Nearly every day he talks about wanting to take the relationship further. I do not really see him as husband material right now, but he does have great qualities. I want to take my time to get to know him better before making any kind of commitment. He keeps pressing. Should I continue to see if we mesh well, or is it a complete waste of time?
Monday, April 15, 2019

After gaining weight, reader is living in the past
I am having a hard time reconciling the fact that I used to be thin and physically attractive as a younger woman with how I look now. Today, in my 50s, I am much bigger. Yes, I dress well, but I'm definitely not thin anymore. My doctor recently told me that I am obese! I do work out and am trying to get myself in a better position, but I can't seem to stop talking about the way it was. My daughter tells me that I am always saying that I used to look just like she looks now. She tells me I say it too much. I don't mean to live in the past, but I guess I miss it now that it is gone. How can I accept who I am today, appreciate my past and work to get healthy?
Saturday, April 13, 2019

Boyfriend may be gaslighting reader
How can you tell if someone is telling the truth?
Friday, April 12, 2019

Daughter's casual view of virginity shocks parent
I was afraid to engage in any type of sexual intimacy when I was a teenager. My parents would have killed me. We were taught that we were supposed to wait until marriage. While I didn't last that long, I was in college before I did anything serious, and I regret it. The circumstances around losing my virginity really weren't good enough for me to give it up.
Thursday, April 11, 2019

Aspiring blogger debates rejecting job offer
I just got a job offer in a field that I don't love, but it will pay the bills. I have worked in this field already, so I have some experience. It's not a bad job, but it isn't my passion.
Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Husband thoughtless when it comes to dinner
I cook dinner almost every night, except for when I am traveling or when we order in, which is rare. This week, I was working late and let my family know. Turns out I didn't get home until after 9 p.m., and my husband made dinner for himself and my daughter, but didn't think to prepare anything for me. He knew I would be working late. When I called and asked him to make me a plate as I was heading home, he said that he had served them leftovers and there was nothing left for me. He suggested I could warm up a cooked chicken and fix myself some vegetables. He did not offer to do anything for me and copped an attitude when I reminded him that I cook for him every night.
Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Friend expects immediate repose, doesn't reciprocate
I have a friend who constantly refers people to me for advice. He calls and expects me to drop everything and support these people. I do my best to be of help; usually they are good people. But my friend does not return the favor. When I contact him -- even if it's just to catch up -- I usually get his voicemail, and often it takes him days or weeks to respond. How can I get him to be more immediately responsive? He expects that of me, but doesn't offer it in return.
Monday, April 8, 2019

Former friend threatening to write tell-all
DEAR HARRIETTE: A woman who used to be a close friend just informed me that she is writing a tell-all memoir about her life, and she plans to include me in it. There is no scandalous story about the two of us that I know of, but she and I were close for a long time, and she knows a lot of my backstory. Like most people, there are plenty of things that I would rather not see the light of day, certainly not in somebody's book.
Saturday, April 6, 2019

Friend's absence after party hurts host
DEAR HARRIETTE: I had a big party last week, and lots of friends came. We had a wonderful time. It is my practice to sit down and chat with a couple of people after big events and experiences just to talk about everything and remember the highlights of the night.
Friday, April 5, 2019

Reader shocked by Wendy Williams revelation
I just learned about Wendy Williams living in a sober living facility, and it shook me. I don't know her or anything, but I do know that she has been open about her past drug use. I thought that was behind her by a dozen or more years. She even started a charity to help people climb out of addiction.
Thursday, April 4, 2019

Boyfriend skeptical of girlfriend's easter fanfare
My girlfriend is a devout Christian, and with Easter coming up, she is so excited about going to church and dressing up for it. She told me that every year since she was a little girl, her family has gone all-out for Easter, buying dressy outfits, taking pictures and going to church. I am happy and intrigued to see all of the excitement around this and to see how happy the children in the family are, but I do not share the enthusiasm.
Wednesday, April 3, 2019

College application scandal worries parent
I am worried about the recent college application scandal. While my family is not rich, we definitely want to take advantage of every opportunity before us as our kids prepare to go to college, including talking to our friends who are in high positions at universities, asking them to look out for our twins. My husband and I have never done anything illegal, but I fear that since this scandal, even asking about information on schools our kids like could be viewed as inappropriate. What can we do now?
Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Friends upset about not being invited to party
I hosted a last-minute gathering of friends and family, and it was so much fun. I posted a bunch of photos on social media, as I normally post photos of what's going on in my world. It didn't occur to me at the time -- because I had kind of spontaneously planned my party -- that I didn't invite every one of my friends.
Monday, April 1, 2019

Reader needs suggestions after friend's heart attack
A guy I grew up with just had a massive heart attack. He lived to talk about it, but it is scary. We are all in our late 50s, and while we have some aches and pains, I think most of us consider ourselves pretty healthy. I know I don't necessarily take the precautions that I have been given over the years too seriously, and this was a big wakeup call.
Saturday, March 30, 2019

Reader upset by former colleague's lies of omission
I am struggling with how to handle a conflict with a former colleague who basically has rewritten history.
Friday, March 29, 2019

Woman wonders if it's possible to drink in moderation
I have a friend who just admitted to me that she drinks too much. She said she has been trying to cut down on her alcohol consumption, but it's hard. I know exactly what she means. After I got laid off from my job a few years ago, I started drinking a lot. I don't think I drink as much now as I did a few years ago, but I drink way more than the recommended amount for a woman.
Thursday, March 28, 2019

Party host questions sending last-minute invitations
I am hosting a birthday party for myself. I kind of decided at the last minute. The party is coming together pretty well -- probably because I have a lot of experience hosting events.
Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Independent contractor spends too much time in car
I am working with an independent contractor on a fundraising project. He seems to be good at what he does, but he does a lot of traveling to get to meetings. I feel like he spends more time driving to and from appointments than actually getting the work done. In this day and age, it seems like plenty of meetings could be handled by telephone or Skype, FaceTime, Zoom or some other interactive technology that is more efficient than jumping in a car to drive for a couple of hours.
Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Family may need to quit pricey club
I belong to a social club that has high dues but offers a lot of activities for my family. I have been willing to spend the money because it has been good for the kids, but this year has been tough for me. It seems like the costs have gone up just as my resources have diminished.
Monday, March 25, 2019

Dear Harriette
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have been paying the minimums on a pile of credit cards for years. I don't seem to be getting anywhere. I barely keep my creditors at bay. I have never had a high-paying job, and I have needed credit in order to make ends meet. I will not be able to work forever. I am worried that I will be paying these bills for the rest of my life. Do you think it is wise to go to one of those credit consolidators for help? I don't know what to do. -- Drowning in Debt
Saturday, March 23, 2019

Even babies experience colorism
DEAR HARRIETTE: My friend recently had twins. They are African-American, and one is much darker than the other. They are both beautiful little girls, but already I hear people saying things about the darker one, like, "She's cute for a dark girl." I hate this. I'm not naive. I know that racism runs so deep that people don't always realize what they are saying, but I worry about these girls and how they will be received as they grow up. What can I do to support them and their family? -- Color Consciousness
Friday, March 22, 2019

Reader questions how to handle begging
My mother told me that we should always share with those who have less than we do. To that end, I give to my church, and I occasionally give to people who beg on the street.
Thursday, March 21, 2019

Reader with kids in entertainment worries about predators
I have young children who are involved in the entertainment industry. My 10-year-old son is a dancer, and my 8-year-old daughter is an actor. We feel fortunate that both of them have gotten paying jobs already through their school and local productions. They have also met some influential people in the business who have offered to help get them to the next level.
Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Teen daughter takes a nap every day after school
My daughter is an A-student in her high school. She is conscientious about her work, and she helps a little bit around the house. In general, I think she is doing a good job. My concern is that this semester she comes home from school and wants to take a nap for at least an hour before starting her homework.
Tuesday, March 19, 2019

10-year-old daughter doesn't like future stepdad
I am about to get married, and my 10-year-old daughter is not happy about it. I have finally found a man who wants to be my partner in life. He likes my daughter, too, but she is not kind to him. She is just a child, but she does not accept him at all.
Monday, March 18, 2019

Boyfriend ghosts on valentine's day
My boyfriend of six years and I broke up about a year ago. He said he needed to find himself and grow up. He never stopped texting me, though. A couple of months ago, he asked if we could get back together and try again. I love him, so I agreed to try. We spent time together over the holidays, and it was really nice. But then Valentine's Day came and went. He didn't even call. The next day, he called to ask my advice on an outfit he was going to wear to go out with friends -- without me.
Saturday, March 16, 2019

Woman uses next-door neighbor as baby sitter
DEAR HARRIETTE: My next-door neighbor had a baby about a year ago. She is a sweet baby, and I am happy for the family. What I don't like is how the mother will knock on my door with the baby on her hip and ask me to watch the baby while she runs off to do whatever. She is often gone for hours, and she never plans these outings. She basically dumps the baby on me. I get that she doesn't have family here, but I do not like the way that she uses me with no regard for my schedule. How can I get her to be more organized and respectful of my time? -- Not Your Baby Sitter
Friday, March 15, 2019

Seeing former boyfriend brings back old feelings
I traveled to go to a friend's big birthday party last weekend, and it was a blast. What was surprising, though, is that an old flame of mine was also there. Now, we haven't seen each other for more than 20 years, but I swear I got the same butterflies in my stomach that I had when we were dating years ago. We were together for three years, and we broke up when he went to graduate school. It turns out that neither of us is married. It sounds like he has had a good life, as have I. But seeing him again got me to thinking "what if?" Do you think it's worth it to find out?
Thursday, March 14, 2019

Elderly mother mixing up medications
My mother has been living in an independent community for elders for a couple of years now. Recently I have noticed that my mother gets her medications mixed up.
Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Family serves food reader can't eat
I am lactose intolerant, and my family knows this. Yet whenever I come over for dinner, they serve creamy food. Heavy sauces and cheeses are in virtually every dish. I don't understand it. I believe they love me. I remind them that I have dietary restrictions, but they don't take my needs into account at all. I take Lactaid with me so that I don't get sick, but I really don't want to put all of that milk in my body in the first place. What can I do?
Tuesday, March 12, 2019

After reading journal, parent should talk to son
My teenage son keeps a journal, which I think is great, though I didn't know about it. I was cleaning his room the other day when I discovered it. I admit that I took a peek. Most of the entries were benign -- just teenage angst. But one entry I read revealed that he has tried smoking marijuana. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, but I am. More, though, I am worried about him.
Monday, March 11, 2019

Employee might want to attend church with co-workers
DEAR HARRIETTE: I started a new job a few months ago, and my co-workers are kind to me. The company I work for is pretty small, but it's definitely tight. You know how sometimes people go out to drinks after work to get to know each other better? Well, these people go to church together.
Saturday, March 9, 2019

Refusal to host family isn't a bad thing
Friday, March 8, 2019

Family makes jokes about niece's fiance
My niece is getting married, and we had an engagement party for her. In the past few years, one side of the family has been pretty rude to her, including being rude to her fiance.
Thursday, March 7, 2019

It's ok to talk to friend about weight gain
I ran into an old friend who I hadn't seen for a couple of years when she came home to visit her family. She is doing well at her job and was telling me all about it, but I am worried about her. She is still in her early 20s, and she has gained like 50 pounds.
Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Girlfriend's mom makes guests take off shoes
My girlfriend invited me to meet her parents; I was nervous, but still went over for dinner. I brought her mom some flowers and planned to be on my best behavior.
Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Visiting boyfriend's family requires planning
My boyfriend has invited me to go to visit his family in another country. It sounds like a great trip, but I have a problem: I do not have a passport. I have never been out of the country, and I'm worried about traveling to Mexico at this time.
Monday, March 4, 2019

Formerly bad cook wants chance to try again
I learned how to cook a few years ago after I had my daughter. Up to then, my husband and I ate out pretty much every day. Even if we ate at home, we would buy takeout. We ate healthy, all things considered. In our city, it is easy to find good food that is not expensive. Now I have a few key dishes that I make that are pretty good, if I do say so myself.
Saturday, March 2, 2019

Reader needs help getting organized
I am extremely disorganized, and it's catching up with me. I just scheduled three meetings that overlap each other. I can't believe I did that, but it's true. They are all personal, after-work meetings, but still. My friends feel like I don't care about them. My work is crazy busy, and I am so tired that I have been forgetful about keeping a good schedule. What should I say to my friends, and how can I get better organized?
Friday, March 1, 2019

Lack of libido puts strain on marriage
I don't know what's wrong with me, but I seem to have no libido whatsoever. My husband is mad at me because I have not been interested in sex for years now. He is a good man who hasn't strayed (yet), but I feel bad because it's not fair to him. How can I get interest back?
Thursday, February 28, 2019

Mom needs support system while child is on work trip
I am scheduled to travel for work for about a week. I travel for my job, but I have tried to scale back now that my mother is older and has some health issues. This upcoming trip is mandatory. I want to set up a support system for my mother while I am away, but I don't have any family in my hometown. Do you think it would be all right to speak to a couple of family friends to keep an eye on her? Should I hire someone?
Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Parents disappointed when kids don't finish college
My husband and I are college graduates, and we always assumed our kids would go to college, too. Both of our children are in their 20s. They have decent jobs, but neither of them finished college. We are so disappointed. We know we can't live our children's lives for them, but we have read that you can definitely increase your salary with a college degree. Should we continue to encourage them to go back to school or just let them live their lives?
Tuesday, February 26, 2019

World Almanac
Today is the 57th day of 2019 and the 68th day of winter.
Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Woman's nails may be too wild for job interviews
My girlfriend likes to dress fancy. For the past few months, she has taken to wearing rhinestones and other jewels on her fingernails. It looks nice, but I'm concerned because she is about to have several job interviews for relatively conservative jobs. She hopes to be a paralegal, and she is interviewing at different law firms.
Monday, February 25, 2019

Trinity Dodge Fixed
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