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home : columns September 23, 2020

Woman chooses to insert herself in couple's lives
I have a "friend" who watches everything that's going on. I noticed how she was checking me and my husband out all summer. When we would have an argument, she was there, generally being supportive of us, but it was a little weird. She began to anticipate what our issues were and to say things about us, never to criticize us, but it did feel a little creepy because she just seemed to be paying too close of attention to us. We were around each other a lot, because we live in the same area during the summer. I'm not quite sure what to make of her behavior. She is single, but still, why was she checking us out so hard? Should I ask her?
Tuesday, September 22, 2020


Voter intends to motivate friends and neighbors
I have gotten into serious arguments with my neighbors and friends about the upcoming election. It has gotten so bad that I wonder if we can survive it. My thing is I am not trying to make you vote the way I plan to vote -- although, of course, I would like that. My thing is I want everybody to register to vote and then to make it their business to vote on Election Day. It seems like such a fundamental thing, and yet there are so many apathetic people out there. I just don't understand it. Here is the one thing that all of us can do to have a personal impact on the future of our country. Why would anyone want to throw that away? My friends say it doesn't matter and their vote isn't going to make a difference anyway. How can I get them to understand that that is not true?
Monday, September 21, 2020

Blind date ends in missing phone
DEAR HARRIETTE: I went on a date with a guy that a mutual friend of ours had set me up with. We had a good time. Everything went as planned until I got home and realized that I had left my cellphone in the Uber with him. I was dropped off first, so I tried calling my phone to see if the driver would circle back after dropping off my date. My cellphone was never answered, so I contacted Uber and met up with the driver, but the phone was nowhere to be found. By that point, I had traced it to an address across town. The driver confirmed that is where he had dropped off the guy I was with. I went there and tried to ring my phone, and it was then shut off.
Saturday, September 19, 2020

Grandmother tries to take grandson from his mom
DEAR HARRIETTE: My parents are divorced, and I have not had an in-person relationship with my mother for five years. My son is now 7 years old. My mother and I still had each other on social media, and she has been trolling and feuding with me about many different things that I post -- things that pertain to my son and being a mother. It's no surprise that she disagrees with all my choices and everything I do with my son.
Friday, September 18, 2020

Boyfriend drags feet on introductions
I have been dating my boyfriend for over a year now, and I have not met any of his friends, or any family either. To be fair, he has not met my parents because I am very strategic about who meets my parents, and he knows that. However, he has met my closest friends.
Thursday, September 17, 2020

Teen son hangs out with older crowd
My son has been eager to get back outside with his friends for the remainder of the summer. We haven't figured out whether school will be physically in session or not. He's expressed missing his friends and feeling locked up and not having anything to look forward to. So with all the right precautions, I let him go down to our local park to play basketball and exercise.
Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Telecommuter considers giving up expensive apartment
I just learned that my job is not going to go back to being in the office until at least mid-2021. I have been living at home with my parents for months now. While I don't want to keep living with them, I think I should give up my expensive apartment and find something much more affordable. One of my friends just moved back to her hometown and got a nice, affordable apartment. I'm thinking of doing that. I know that it might be hard getting a new place sometime next year, but I think I would be smart to save some money. Do you think this is a good idea?
Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Colon screenings are necessary for those over 50
After hearing about "Black Panther" Chadwick Boseman's untimely death due to colon cancer -- at such a young age -- I'm kind of freaked out. I'm in my 50s, and I have never had a colonoscopy. I was afraid of the test since you have to be anesthetized. Plus, I don't think my insurance covers it. I'm a pretty healthy guy, so I didn't think much of it -- until now. If somebody who looks so healthy could succumb to this disease, I think I need to get tested. But part of me is too scared to do it. What if I am sick? I am a single dude. I don't have the support system to deal with an illness. Maybe I should just leave well enough alone.
Monday, September 14, 2020

Scatterbrained boss won't accept fault
I am an assistant, and my boss is a mess. He always tries to do everything and multitask; meanwhile, he mixes up details and is forgetful. He hired me to help him keep his business in order, but he makes that difficult for me. He will give me tasks to complete, but if there are any approvals I need, he takes a long time to give them.
Saturday, September 12, 2020

Harriette reflects on the losses of 9/11
It has been 19 years since that fateful day when the world as we know it changed. We all remember where we were and what we were doing when we got wind of the planes flying into the World Trade Center and subsequently other buildings. Many of us lost family members and loved ones. The pain of loss remains alive within us.
Friday, September 11, 2020

Girlfriend finds old social media private messages
I just settled down in a serious relationship. This is the first woman I have ever felt this way about, and we are talking about marriage. Last week while using my social media, she found some old messages of me flirting with other women back when we first started dating. I tried to explain to her that that was the past and I didn't feel the way that I feel now. I swore that I would never do that ever again and that I was serious about our future. She has not been returning my calls, and I am not prepared for our relationship to be over. What can I do to prove to her that I am committed to her and ready for the next step in our relationship?
Thursday, September 10, 2020

After theft, friend doesn't trust woman
A small group of my friends and I recently got together for one of their birthdays at her apartment. I knew almost everyone there besides a few significant others who attended.

I kept my personal belongings in my friend's bedroom during the party. When I gathered my things to leave, I noticed my purse kept popping open and wouldn't close, but I paid it no mind. When I returned home and went through my purse, I realized that my wallet was sitting in my purse upside down. When I opened it, all of my cash was gone.

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Reader creeped out by social media acquaintance
There is a creepy guy who follows me on social media. I have known him since before there even was this way of communicating, but I haven't spoken to him in years. Then out of nowhere he started commenting on my posts. After that, he began to send me long, mostly nonsensical emails. I'm not quite sure what to do. He writes to me as if my postings on social media were written directly to him. He expects me to answer him and is very insistent. But I swear I haven't talked to him in years, and we were never close anyway. How can I get him to back off?
Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Reader concerned with friend's party plans
I have been enjoying a bit of socializing this summer -- at a distance -- with people in my beach community. We have had two couples over for dinner, and we all made sure that we were never too close to each other, especially when we were eating, since we had our masks off.
Monday, September 7, 2020

Dear Harriette
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am newly married and living in a new home, and I just had a baby. Life is fantastic. I am grateful. My best friend, however, is now the "messy auntie." She shows up at my house at all hours, never wants to help with the baby but wants to play with him. She eats and drinks all of our food and never cleans up. She has really bought into the whole idea of playing with the baby and returning it to the mommy when it cries. She says she comes to help, but she just creates an inconvenience for me when she tells me to take a break, but my break always gets interrupted.
Saturday, September 5, 2020

Reader upset when roommate borrows, loses umbrella
DEAR HARRIETTE: My roommate borrowed an umbrella from me one day and never returned it. I kept asking for it back, but I was not too concerned because it had not rained, so I did not need to use it.
Friday, September 4, 2020

Child wants to help dad after relapse
My father is a recovering alcoholic; he was six months sober. Last week, I lent him my car to go to work. When he didn't arrive back home following his shift, I called his phone and learned that he had been in an accident while intoxicated. He broke his arm, and my car was totaled. I am drowning in bills and have a family to take care of. I'm so angry. I am thankful that he is safe, but he needs help and care. I want to support him through his addiction, but I can no longer risk my family situation. I want to check him into a rehabilitation facility to protect him and get him the help he needs. How can I explain this to him without upsetting him?
Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Couple ready to move out of shared space
My boyfriend and I currently live with another couple in a home that we rent. We have been here for 15 months. While being quarantined the past three months, we've had a lot of overlap with the other couple. We have issues with our home; we contacted the landlord about them, but he didn't do much to fix or help with the issues during the quarantine.
Monday, August 31, 2020

Reader worried about polarizing election
This upcoming election is important for minorities like myself. I remember when Trump was elected president how scary it was to me. On my college campus, some students were happy, celebrating in the streets, and students like myself were filled with fear for our country. Those who were celebrating were screaming and yelling in the faces of those who displayed any type of discomfort or were saddened by the news. For myself and my friends, it was a traumatizing event. Some of our clubs created support groups to discuss our feelings. With November ahead, that day is the only thing that plays in my mind. How can I stay hopeful for the coming election and put aside the memories?
Saturday, August 29, 2020

Reader questions asking client for money
I have been going through my papers trying to get organized before the fall, and I noticed that one of my clients never paid me for a job I did last year. It has been several months, and I only just now realized it. With quarantine and all, I didn't notice that this invoice had gone unpaid. Is it too late to remind him of the money I am owed? I know that this has been a difficult time for businesses, but it has been hard on me, too. I did submit the invoice back in February, but I forgot to follow up. What do you think?
Friday, August 28, 2020

After ultimatum, mom still hasn't sold house
My mom and I do not get along. She was a single mom, and when I was growing up, she had a ton of rules and complained and yelled about things in the house not being a specific way. She kicked me out for multiple months at a time while I was in high school. I am now 23, and she has remarried. I do not get along with her husband either.
Thursday, August 27, 2020

Employee wants to take action for co-worker
My co-worker is in a wheelchair. During quarantine, our general manager sent a memo for all employees to use a back entrance to our store in order to do proper check-in before our shifts. This entrance is not handicap accessible. My co-worker asked to use an alternative entrance where he can get inside without help.
Wednesday, August 26, 2020

New employee struggles with anxiety
Since I was young, waking up in the morning and starting my day has always been a struggle, along with my lifelong battle with anxiety. I am starting a new job, and I face my anxiety every morning. I overthink everything that I need to do before I get out the door for my commute. I get so anxious and overwhelmed that I am regretting taking the job and am considering the possibility that I may never have a normal life. What can I do? My anxiety is ruining my life.
Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Landlord wants to end leases with fighting tenants
I am a landlord with two tenants in a two-family home. My tenants do not get along. They are always emailing and calling me to complain about what the other has done. I have never had so many issues with tenants before. With quarantine, I guess they became too much for each other and finally the police were involved. At this point, I no longer want to rent to either of them. They are both currently month-to-month. I have been speaking with my lawyer to figure out the best way to ask them to leave. Is there anything else that I can do beforehand? Should I have the three of us sit down and lay out some ground rules? What is the best route for this conversation?
Monday, August 24, 2020

DNA tests confirms mom's suspicions
DEAR HARRIETTE: My ex-husband was the product of an extramarital interracial relationship. Both of his parents -- the ones who raised him -- are white, and he has always denied he was biracial, despite the obvious physical characteristics that say otherwise. We have two beautiful teenage children who have been raised believing they are white.
Saturday, August 22, 2020

Compulsive shopper needs to slow down
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am always shopping. Whether it is for myself or someone else, I find myself gathering items in a store that I see fit to have but may not necessarily need at that point in time. I never go to an event or friend's home empty-handed, and when it comes to birthdays, I believe that it is always polite to give a gift -- even if small -- if I am celebrating with someone.
Friday, August 21, 2020

Dear Harriette
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am half-deaf, and because of it, I have a learning disability. I just started a new job, and the hiring manager is aware of my disability. Now that he is training me, it is clear that he is becoming frustrated as it takes me longer to learn and process new information than the average person. He doesn't bring up my disability or ask if he is going too fast, but when I ask him to slow down, he tells me that this is the job pace -- I need to be able to keep up or I will not succeed in this job and should consider something else. I am confident that I can do that work; I just need more time to learn and process everything at first. How do I professionally correct him about my disability and defend myself? -- Hear Me Out
Thursday, August 20, 2020

Younger siblings struggle with split custody
I am 28 years old, and my parents recently divorced and live separately. My parents have 50-50 custody of my 12- and 14-year-old brother and sister. I've noticed how unhappy my siblings are, going back and forth between my parents' houses. They said they can't take the fighting anymore and asked to come and live with me. I am totally fine with that if it means better living conditions for them, but I'm worried about how it will make our parents feel. Should I tell them they can't live with me, or should I talk to my parents?
Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Roommate juggling four virtual romances
My best friend and roommate has been dating a lot lately -- so much that it worries me something else is going on. During quarantine, she has been FaceTiming four different guys consistently and always tells them how she can't wait to go out on a date with them.
Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Pet owner regrets putting dog to sleep
I recently had to euthanize my dog. He was about 13 years old — very old for a dog. When I would get home from work, he laid in the same spot and didn’t move. He stopped eating and was soiling himself. I tried to get him to stand up, but he would nip at me and cry out in pain.
Monday, August 17, 2020

Reader worried about mother and COVID-19
My mom is in her 60s and has compromised lungs. For the past few months, my sister and I have been taking her groceries and having what she needs delivered to her house. Growing up, we had a constant flow of lost souls going in and out of our house. We never knew who was going to be camped out on our driveway or sleeping on our couch for weeks at a time.
Saturday, August 15, 2020

Ex-employee shows up at kid's day care
I am a restaurant manager. I recently had to let go of one of my servers who continuously got complaints for being rude. I had trouble with her arriving late and creating issues with other staff during work hours. It was actually a relief to have her gone.
Friday, August 14, 2020

White reader reflects on racist microaggression
When I worked at a heavily visited tourist attraction, I had a visitor interaction that ultimately ended with me escorting said visitor to a colleague (whom we will call "Annie"). I am terrible with names, and I didn't regularly work with Annie at the time. As I approached Annie's desk, I realized her name was escaping me. I suddenly thought I recalled her name, so as I dropped off the visitor with Annie, I said "OK, thanks, 'Jen' will take care of you from here."

The second it came out of my mouth, I knew it was the wrong name, which is embarrassing on its own, but much worse because I called her the name of another co-worker, and both these women are East Asian. I am white.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Readers weigh in on undeclared student's options
So many of you had ideas for the student who was undecided when it came to determining a major in college and, in turn, a career path that I am printing a few of your letters here. Thank you for such great input.
Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Friend won't give customer real price
A good friend of mine owns a painting company. I hired him and his workers to paint my home a new color. I signed a contract like any other customer, but when I asked for the invoice, he said to pay what I am comfortable with. He wouldn't tell me what he usually charges, and I have never had something like this done before. I don't want to underpay him, but I don't want to overpay him either. What is the best way to approach paying him and his workers?
Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Toxic ex-boyfriend wants to become friends
I just got out of a relationship not too long ago that I believe was toxic for both of us. We took our time apart, but he has appeared again in my life asking to start over and be friends. He says that he is different and he wants me to get to know the "new" him; however, I am not sure what to do. Should we be friends and see if there is a relationship for us in the future, or should I just leave it alone and move on and continue healing? I need some help
Monday, August 10, 2020

DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a really great job that has good benefits. The job itself isn't what I think I would want to do forever, but I'm comfortable. Recently, there were proposals for the reduction of our benefits. Some of those proposals were passed, which resulted in the loss of those benefits. Now I worry that I could potentially lose more than what I'm willing to live with.
Saturday, August 8, 2020

Cramped reader needs more space
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am 25 years old, and I just finished my master's degree. I want to start my own businesses from home. I've begun an online closet, and I am studying to receive my real estate license. I still live at home with my family and pay a majority of the bills because I happen to be the biggest breadwinner. Lately, I've been feeling congested -- like I don't have my own workspace to develop.
Friday, August 7, 2020

Bride doesn't want friend to share wedding date
My friend and I got engaged in the same week and chose our 2021 wedding dates one week apart. Once we got hit with COVID, I pushed my date back one year, and my friend got married early in the courthouse. She approached me asking about my wedding date and if I intended on keeping the same date for 2022. She wanted to renew her vows with a full wedding -- no longer on the original date she had chosen, but one week earlier, on my original 2021 date. She asked me only after I told her of the one-year postponement. This began a conflict and was a problem for me. As close friends and each other's bridesmaids, I would not want us to deliberately get married on the same date, even one year apart. What should I do?
Thursday, August 6, 2020

Sweaty employee turns off computer camera
It is so hot in my house right now that I can hardly bear it. It is impossible to get on a Zoom call for work and look professional when all I'm doing is sweating all day. I feel bad about this, but it's true. I have not turned the camera on for a few days. I'm hoping that the heat wave will pass soon, but I'm not sure it will. What do you recommend that I do in this situation? My boss likes to see our faces at these meetings, but I don't think anybody wants to see me sitting there sweating
Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Today is the 217th day of 2020 and the 46th day of summer.
I've been hoping that this guy I've liked for a long time would finally wake up and see that we should be together. We are good friends and he says he loves me, but he has never made a move. Recently he called me all excited to say that he had reconnected with his ex-wife. I'm in shock. They broke up more than 20 years ago, and he used to hate her. Why would he get with her and not give me a chance? I don't get it. What am I doing wrong?
Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Reader upset when friends learn about high blood pressure
I have high blood pressure, and I take medication for it. Pretty much nobody in my friend group knows about it because I just don't think it's any of their business. I'm a very private person.
Monday, August 3, 2020

Woman wonders who to call to feel safe
Saturday, August 1, 2020

Woman considers getting long-wanted nose job
I have been insecure about my nose since I was a little girl. From the beginning of my teen years, I thought about how nice it would be to get a nose job. Now that I am an established working person, I am realizing that this would be completely financially viable for me, and I'm in a position to make this choice. I know that a nose job is a big deal and could change the way my face looks pretty drastically. However, it would be nice to use my autonomy and the money I've worked for to address an insecurity I've held for a long time. Should I go through with getting plastic surgery, or should I just learn to accept the way I look?
Friday, July 31, 2020

Aspiring writer needs motivation to finish book
I had a dream of writing a book, and in 2014 I rented a house on the beach and spent five weeks writing. I made good progress and was happy with the fruits of my labor. When I got home, I did not continue. How do I make it a priority to finish it? It seems that when I am home, I put everything and everyone before finishing my book. I keep telling myself that my book must not be as important as I thought it was or as the other things that I spend my time on. Is this some kind of mental block that is causing me to procrastinate? I have a husband who likes to do everything together, and when I rented the home to be alone and write, he insisted on coming with me. He worked from the house, and I worked on my book. I would appreciate any assistance or advice you can offer
Thursday, July 30, 2020

Employer may want to move job search from social media
I have been looking to hire a part-time assistant to help me get a project off the ground. Considering how many people are out of work, I figured if I posted the position on my social media, I would get a few candidates. I did, and a few people responded, but nobody seemed eager to work hard. For example, when I wrote back to people to set up interviews, it took them days to respond. One woman sounded interesting, but she wasn't willing to work enough hours. Another man I gave a chance, but he never could show up to our morning meetings on time. I think I may need to go to one of those services that has already vetted people in order to feel confident. Whatever happened to good old-fashioned work ethic?
Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Daughter loses motivation in summer school
My high school-aged daughter is taking an accelerated college class this summer. I am excited for her to stimulate her brain and get some good extra credit on her resume. I am also worried that she isn't applying herself enough. The class operates at a quick pace. She started out gung ho, but her enthusiasm has dwindled. How can I keep her motivated? This class was expensive, but besides that, it is important for her to excel.
Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Partner questions next steps after apologizing
What do you do when you hurt the one you love? I recently had a fight with my partner and lashed out at him in a way that deeply hurt his feelings. I feel incredibly guilty, but I know that won't do anything to help the situation. What can I do now that I've acknowledged that I was wrong and said I'm sorry? He is obviously still very upset. How do I approach him during this time, given that we live together and I'd like to do my best to make him feel better?
Monday, July 27, 2020

Dear Harriette
DEAR HARRIETTE: My neighbor's dog just died. She was very close to it, so close she decided to have a funeral for the dog. Don't get me wrong, I like dogs, but I feel like this is a bit much. But since we live very close to each other and we can't really go anywhere, she wants me to come to her backyard and participate in the ceremony. I think this is way over the top, but I do like this woman. She is older and never had any children. I think she considered her dog to be like a child. Should I participate even though I don't believe in this sort of thing? -- Good Neighbor
Saturday, July 25, 2020

Reader in debt worries about creditors
DEAR HARRIETTE: I still have crazy debt that I cannot pay because I haven't worked since March due to the coronavirus. I am scared to call my creditors because I don't have anything new to say to them. I interview all the time, and I just haven't found anything yet. What should I say or do now when I can only send pennies to companies that I owe thousands? -- Need To Pay
Thursday, July 23, 2020

Employee mad when boss takes over during presentation
I just had a big argument with my boss over what I felt was an injustice done to me during a conference call with a client. I am the one who did all the work on this project, and my boss interrupted me as I was making a presentation and basically took over and acted like it was all his idea. I was infuriated, so I told him as much. We ended up arguing; he claims that every project is his project. He had told me that I was supposed to present.
Thursday, July 23, 2020

Roommates worry about isolating woman
I am living with someone who was exposed to someone with COVID-19 symptoms. While we are taking the necessary precautions -- giving her food in her room, having her wear a mask in shared spaces and talking to her from 6 feet away with a mask -- how do we ensure we keep her mentally healthy during this time period in which she has to be physically distant from us and spend a lot of time inside her room? We all feel concerned for her as she already struggles with depression, and we can tell she feels guilty for potentially exposing us to the virus. What can we do, while remaining safe, to make her feel better?
Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Recent stress causes reader to turn to alcohol
DEAR HARRIETTE: Recently my stress levels have gone up because of the coronavirus, especially the threat of potentially losing my job if another wave hits. I thought I was in the clear after things seemed to start stabilizing, but the company I work for may not be doing well, and I don't know what will happen if another wave hits. I have noticed myself turning to drinking more often than I'd like to admit in order to cope with this stress. I don't think I am an alcoholic, but I recognize that this behavior could potentially lead to dangerous outcomes. It is challenging because the people who usually support me during hard times are harder to see now, so sometimes it feels like the only option. What steps should I take to address this issue? -- On the Edge
Tuesday, July 21, 2020

College student unsure about major
DEAR HARRIETTE: How do I choose my major in college? I have several interests, but I don't know which major to choose. I am studying classics right now; I was introduced to it because a lot of my family members study it. I enjoy it very much -- most of the time. However, I'm wondering if I should branch out and experiment before committing to it as a major. What should I do? -- Undeclared
Monday, July 20, 2020

Reader embarrassed by quarantine weight gain
I just had a telehealth call with my primary care physician, and he grilled me about how I have been taking care of myself during this period of quarantine. I didn't want to admit that I have gained 10 to 15 pounds. I am embarrassed that I haven't been more disciplined. I was already supposed to be losing weight, but instead I gained. He cautioned me that I have to lose weight because obesity is one of the factors that can make one more susceptible to complications from COVID-19. I know he's right, but I didn't appreciate hearing that from him. It's almost time to go back out into the world. Now he has me scared all over again about getting sick and dying. It's not like I can reverse this weight gain with a blink. What should I do?
Saturday, July 18, 2020

Employee doing extra tasks without being paid
I am doing things at work that are not part of my job description, and I'm not getting paid for them. I'm well respected at my job, which is why people trust me with these tasks, and while I don't mind doing favors once in a while, I'm not getting paid for these favors. It's becoming a pattern. I work for a small business, and I'm very close to everyone. There's a sense of loyalty among all of the co-workers. How should I approach this situation without burning bridges or causing conflict? Should I ask to get paid, or should I just stop doing the tasks entirely?
Friday, July 17, 2020

Stepfather insensitive about protests
My stepfather, who has been with my mother for the last three years, has been making insensitive comments about the Black Lives Matter protests. For example, saying that the protests are all about looting and violence, and dismissing the concerns of African Americans in this country. How do I approach the topic so that I can try to educate him and change his perspectives while being respectful since I am trying to build a friendly relationship with him and don't want to cause any family tension?
Thursday, July 16, 2020

Loneliness linked to a number of diseases and conditions
I live alone, and stay-at-home orders have been hard. I've heard people say that being lonely is really bad for your health, and now I believe them. What problems can it cause? Also, I'm going to start seeing friends and family again. What can we do to stay safe?
Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Parent worried son's smoking pot to mask anxiety
I've noticed my son, who is home from college, is smoking marijuana quite often now that we are in quarantine. I can smell it on him. While I don't have an issue with marijuana on occasion, I am worried that this is a coping mechanism for his feelings of anxiety about the future and isolation from his friends. How do I talk to him without being accusatory?
Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Working child worried by homebound elderly parents
DEAR HARRIETTE: My elderly parents are struggling with being alone during quarantine. They don't get out normally, and now it's even worse. They don't have many friends, and they are afraid to go outside because they don't want to get sick. I'm working full time, so I don't want to get them sick. How do I ensure that my parents don't get too lonely while also knowing I can't be their only source of interaction? -- Saving My Parents
Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Journalist questions what to do about similar article
I am a college student, and I have recently been doing extended research for a news article for my job. This will be the first major news article I've ever published. However, I just found out that someone else published an article that is almost exactly like the story I was trying to write, even interviewing many of the people I have been in the process of talking to. I have been doing months of prep work and background research, and I don't want to abandon the work I've done, but I know that the article I publish will be less significant now that someone else in the field has published. This project has meant a lot to me, and I want the work I do to be significant. What should I do?
Monday, July 13, 2020

Dear Harriette
DEAR HARRIETTE: Even during these times when so many people are out of work, I am seeing that some young people do not want to work hard. Am I wrong to say that? I have hired two recent college grads in the past two months. And -- can you believe it? -- they don't show up to work, meaning to a Zoom call, on time. They arrive 10 to 20 minutes late to meetings without even an acknowledgment that they were late. I don't want to seem like a crotchety old boss, but I don't get it. I am giving them a chance to work at a time when I need their undivided attention and focus, and I'm not getting it. How can I motivate them? -- Unmotivated
Saturday, July 11, 2020

Boyfriend planning future around recent college grad
DEAR HARRIETTE: I just graduated from college, and my partner moved in with me at my parents' house because of quarantine. This has deepened our relationship and brought us closer, but it has posed challenges and shown incompatibilities that have me questioning if I want to continue the relationship.
Friday, July 10, 2020

College student must choose parent to live with
DEAR HARRIETTE: My parents are getting divorced. They announced it to me, their only child, after we were already hunkered down at their house during quarantine. Now I'm faced with a decision I don't need right now. My dad is moving out of our family home and into his own house. I love both my parents so much, and I don't want to pick sides in this fight. But I am now faced with having to make a decision as to where I will live. I am still in college, but I would have the summer off anyway. Because of the coronavirus, I don't have any idea when I will physically go back to school, so I will be living with my parents indefinitely. How do I decide who I am going to live with? -- Split Decision
Thursday, July 9, 2020

Sister won't participate in religious zoom celebrations
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a mother of two spending quarantine with my husband. My daughters are college-aged and living on their own. We have a large extended family that is used to seeing each other often throughout the year. We're trying to spend time together as a family during quarantine through Zoom celebrations of Jewish holidays. However, my sister is not religious and doesn't want to participate because we're celebrating religious holidays. How do we communicate to her that the significance of these events is not religion and make her comfortable joining in these family events? -- Family First
Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Protesting in the time of coronavirus
DEAR HARRIETTE: I really want to go out and participate in the Black Lives Matter protests, but I also have been taking quarantine very seriously as I believe it saves lives. How do I balance these conflicting principles and decide whether I should protest or stay home? -- Black Lives Matter
Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Ex-boyfriend bringing new women to apartment
DEAR HARRIETTE: I broke up with my boyfriend about six months ago, but he still lives in my apartment. I know it sounds crazy, but I needed a roommate to split the rent with me; when we broke up, it just seemed easier for him to stay -- at least for a while.
Monday, July 6, 2020

Harriett hope for freedom and equality for all
Happy Independence Day! This is the day so many years ago when our country proclaimed its freedom. For many, it was a happy day. For some, freedom remained elusive. Today, in 2020, our country is grappling with this notion of independence and what it actually means for all citizens. The contemplation is worthwhile even if it can be difficult.

At times like these, I think of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He said: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." He added, "No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."

Isn't that precisely what we have been witnessing in these past few weeks?

Saturday, July 4, 2020

The videoconference debate continues
Clearly, I hit a nerve with the discussion about videoconferencing from home and whether you should turn your camera on. Because so many of you continue to write in about this, I have chosen two more letters to share with you. Working from home and navigating professional engagements without the supports and rhythms that we had only a few months ago has changed the dynamic of our lives dramatically. We are all working to figure it out. Here are some of your ideas on this hot-button topic.
Friday, July 3, 2020

Family grows testy in close quarters
Being able to spend more time with my family during quarantine has been great. However, as time wears on, we are all beginning to get on each other's nerves, and fights between family members have increased. I don't want our home to be a hostile environment or family tensions to rise during this time. How can we work with this limited space and these restrictions to make a more civil and understanding home environment?
Thursday, July 2, 2020

Student's fraternity plans alarm sister
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a politically active 27-year-old woman. My younger brother, who is just about to enter college, informed me that he wants to join a fraternity. I actively protested against fraternities during my time in college, as I believe they promote toxic masculinity and are spaces of sexual harassment. I also have several friends who were harassed by fraternity members during their time at college. I don't want my brother to be influenced by this toxic environment, so how should I dissuade him from joining? Or should I allow him to make his own mistakes and simply talk to him about his experiences while in the fraternity as they come up? -- Open His Eyes
Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Student feels ready to settle down now
DEAR HARRIETTE: I feel like I am ready to get married and have kids, but I'm only 19. I am still in college, but I think that is what I'd rather be doing. Most of my family members started their families very young, and I feel like it's the right thing to do. I know I am young and that's very discouraged nowadays, and I also know that these are important years for growth and self-discovery. Should I go with my heart and try and start a family after graduation, or should I wait? -- Ready for Marriage
Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Immigrant requests primer on race relations
I am a Russian immigrant who came to the U.S. seven years ago as a refugee when I was 16. I have always had trouble wrapping my head around American race relations, as they are so different from those of my home country. As the current escalations on the issue of police brutality around the country happen, I want to engage in activism and important conversations, but I have no idea where to start or what my opinions are. How do I inform myself and engage with a discourse that is not as personal to me?
Monday, June 29, 2020

Dear Harriette
DEAR HARRIETTE: Every summer, I invite my niece and nephew from Italy to come stay with me and my family. Travel hasn't really opened up yet, so this summer hasn't been an issue, but I anticipate that travel will be relaxed soon enough. I am afraid to have them come.
Saturday, June 27, 2020

Co-worker steals professional ideas
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a co-worker who is slick as all get-out, and I'm sick of her. We work closely together. Whenever we have brainstorming meetings, which is part of our job, in the next staff meeting she pipes up and offers my ideas to the group as if they were her own.
Friday, June 26, 2020

Suburban friends still socialize during lockdown
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have become a recluse during this quarantine period. I thought everybody was doing the same thing, but then I spoke to some friends in other parts of the country, and learned that we are having completely different experiences. I live in the big city, and we have been on lockdown. Officials have urged us not to go out, and I haven't. I have ordered my food in and everything.
Thursday, June 25, 2020

Suburban friends still socialize during lockdown
I have become a recluse during this quarantine period. I thought everybody was doing the same thing, but then I spoke to some friends in other parts of the country, and learned that we are having completely different experiences. I live in the big city, and we have been on lockdown. Officials have urged us not to go out, and I haven't. I have ordered my food in and everything.
Thursday, June 25, 2020









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