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home : columns February 22, 2020

Reader explodes in anger over small slight
DEAR HARRIETTE: About a week ago, I invited a friend of mine to hang out with me. We planned the day out and everything. Then, completely last-minute, my friend canceled on me.
Saturday, February 22, 2020

Reader wants to be sensitive to gender identity
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am finding myself at a loss for how to be politically correct when it comes to talking about gender identity. My neighbor's child -- who was born female -- says that she now identifies as "they." I do my best to remember, but it doesn't come natural to me yet.
Friday, February 21, 2020

Reader struggles to trust working with women
I got into a huge argument with a woman who said she wanted to help me work on my business plan. She agreed to a particular fee; it was low, but promised higher returns when I met with success. After beginning to do the work, she flaked time and again, insulted me along the way and never completed what she agreed to do. On top of all of that, she had the nerve to say that I didn't know what I was doing and that I would never amount to anything. It was awful.
Thursday, February 20, 2020

Asthmatic reader questions going on hiking trip
I have a weakened immune system due to asthma. I have never bowed out of activities because of my health, but now I wonder if I should.
Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Friend who wants to be an author not a good writer
A friend of mine has always said she wants to be an author. She's never published anything. Recently, she presented me with a manuscript that she says she has been working on for years. It reads a bit like a memoir, but I do not think it is very good. The thoughts are not coherent. What do I say to her? I have written a little bit here and there, but I am no editor. I don't really know how to help her. I don't want to hurt her feelings. What do I say to someone who is so passionate, but who really doesn't have the chops to do it?
Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Client chastises reader for seemingly no reason
I have a client who constantly reprimands me about everything. Just the other day, I sent her a report about a project that we had just finished. All of the information was clearly articulated in an organized and succinct manner -- as I do after every project. Her response was to thank me for it and to point out that I should be providing written reports on a regular basis to her so that she can share them with others. Duh. That's exactly what I had just done. Why did she feel the need to state the obvious?
Monday, February 17, 2020

Readers husband reneges on date nights
Every time I get tickets for a special event and invite my husband to go with me, he reneges on the day of. Like clockwork, he finds some excuse for not being able to join me. I get these great, free tickets through my work. They are often for special cultural experiences, and the ticket price is high. I find myself scrambling to get someone to go with me. I know I should probably give up, but I want him to go out with me on fun dates. We have been married for a long time, and he seems satisfied with going out to dinner once a year for our anniversary. How can I get him to want to go?
Saturday, February 15, 2020

Harriette wishes readers a happy Valentine's Day
For those of you who celebrate, happy Valentine's Day! This day has been reserved as a day to express your love and affection for those you hold dear. I like the overarching sentiment, even though I cringe at how product-driven the day has become.
Friday, February 14, 2020

Friend has low self-esteem after weight-loss surgery
My best friend is the most beautiful girl that I know. She is funny, smart and an amazing singer. I've known her since we were in the sixth grade, so she is basically my sister. Lately, she has been down, and it is mostly due to her weight.
Thursday, February 13, 2020

Scholarly reader wants to find love
I have never been in a relationship. I am almost 20, and I have never experienced romance. Many of my friends have already had boyfriends or girlfriends, gotten involved in summer flings or even found their life partners. I, on the other hand, have dated various books, ranging from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Mark Twain. I care more about my education than anything else, so I've never had time to be in a proper relationship.
Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Neighbor reluctant to babysit for adulterous woman
My neighbor, who is a good friend, confided in me that she is having an affair with a guy at her job. It came up because she asked me if I would watch her kids last-minute one evening. When I asked her what was going on -- because she is usually well-organized and responsible -- she admitted that she was going to meet up with this guy. This was so awkward for me. I took the children, but I don't want to be in the middle of this. I am friendly with my neighbor's husband, and I don't want to be complicit in the machinations of an affair. It's not easy. My friend has already asked me to watch her children again. That wouldn't be abnormal, but now that I know why she is asking, I want no part of it. What should I do?
Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Bright student having doubts about potential
I have just started another semester at college. So far, it has been decent. The courses I am taking are a bit more challenging, but at least I have really good professors.

For the fall semester, I received straight A's, and it boosted my GPA. I have been stressed out lately because I am having second thoughts about my potential. I know that since I did well last semester, I need to do exceptionally well this semester. I know that the new semester just started, but I want to know what I can do to not second-guess myself.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Friend worried about what to do in retirement
DEAR HARRIETTE: I got a letter from an old friend that was very disturbing to me. She is at retirement age and has to keep working, like most people I know, because she doesn't have ample retirement money. She is worried about how she will take care of herself when she gets older, because she is unmarried and doubts that she can work forever.
Saturday, February 8, 2020

New parent questions how to find child care
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a young child, and I have been looking for a nanny to help me take care of her when I go back to work. I know a few moms who have nannies, but I'm really at a loss for how to find someone I can trust to watch my child. You hear horror stories about how other people take care of your children. Those stories are getting under my skin, and I am not sure how I should proceed. Do you have any recommendations? -- Need a Nanny
Friday, February 7, 2020

It's ok to use social media sparingly
I swore off social media about a year ago because I found it to be a distraction, and I really needed to get some work done. I gave myself a year, and now that I am there, I don't know if I want to go back. I like being disengaged from the chatter, much of which doesn't seem real. At the same time, I have a new project I'm working on, and social media can be very helpful in getting the word out. Any recommendations for how to balance if I go back in?
Thursday, February 6, 2020

Friend asks unemployed reader not to apply for job
I have been looking for work for about a year. Throughout this period, I have been talking to a few close friends about my search, as they are also looking for work. Recently, one friend told me about a job she is interviewing for that seems perfect for me. She even said as much when she mentioned it, though she agreed to the interview and asked me not to apply. I don't think that's fair.
Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Friends want kids to couple up with same race
I hung out with some friends and got an earful. My friends said that even though their children go to a predominantly white school, they have told their children that they had better not bring any white girls home as a date or to marry. They were adamant about this, completely unapologetic in their belief that their black children had better marry black. They went on to talk about the history of racism and segregation in our country as reasons for why they want their children to stick with their own.
Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Reader wants help getting adult son to leave the nest
I have two adult children -- one who is already independent, and another who is struggling. I'm really worried about him. He seems to have a lack of confidence, even though my husband and I have provided him with everything so that he could succeed. He got a great education and did fairly well in school. But his motivation is limited. He has a job, but not in his area of interest, and he seems to be floundering. He doesn't make enough money to be on his own fully, so my husband and I supplement his income. He still lives at home. I'm not sure if this is helping. Do you think that he would get his act together if he were more motivated? What can we do to help him grow up and accept responsibility for his life?
Sunday, February 2, 2020

Growing sons want to change bedtime
I have a question about bedtimes. My kids have always had a bedtime that is relatively early because I want to make sure that they get enough rest and are sharp the next day. Now that they are a little older -- eighth grade twins -- they are fighting me about staying up late. They want to go from a 9:30 p.m. bedtime to no curfew, especially on weekends. I am willing to budge a bit, but taking away the curfew entirely doesn't seem to be a smart solution. What do you think?
Friday, January 31, 2020

Parent upset that son's school dwells on racism
Seemingly out of the blue, they are reading lots of books about race at my son's school. Seriously, they have read three books back-to-back about racial injustice. While I think it is important for the kids to learn about these topics, it is making us uncomfortable. Not everything is about race, but you would never know from this class. I don't have the knowledge or time to debate these issues with my son every day.
Thursday, January 30, 2020

Friend with terminal cancer still living it up
One of my best friends has terminal cancer. He has tried everything to heal himself, which is actually a lot because he has money. He has traveled all over the world trying to find a doctor or therapy that will help him, but nothing is working. Now, it seems like he is slowing down. He is unwilling to accept that he may be dying soon, though. He still wants to hang out late, which I do not advise. But then I wonder if I should just support whatever he wants. He usually includes me at his fun events, but I see that he is failing. How can I best support him?
Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Immigrant's family expects too much
I am an immigrant, and I have lived in this country for more than 20 years; in fact, I am now an American citizen. My problem is that as much as I want to visit my family in my home country, it is so expensive that I can go only every few years. I save as much and spend as little as possible here, but my expenses are considerable. Also, because I live in the United States, my family assumes that I am rich. I am expected to pay for the family homestead, even though I don't work there, and when I come home, I am expected to bring lots of gifts and money to give to everyone.
Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Teen daughter too stressed by exams
My daughter had a horrible time this year going through midterms. She bit all of her fingernails down to nubs. She didn't sleep well for a whole week. She was irritable every single day. And nothing I did helped her. In fact, my very presence seemed to annoy her. I know it's because the pressure is intense at her school, and she feels that she has to do well or she won't get in to college.
Monday, January 27, 2020

Dear Harriette
DEAR HARRIETTE: I was married many years ago to a nice man, and I did not treat him well. I have never felt good about my behavior. Even though a lot of years have passed, I still think about that period in my life from time to time, and I cringe. As we get older, I keep thinking that I want to apologize to him. I don't want to upset his life, though. He has remarried and has a family. I have not seen him for decades. If I can find his address, do you think it would be appropriate to send him a note of apology? Life is short, and many people I grew up with are dying. I don't want either of us to die before I express my apology. -- Making Amends
Saturday, January 25, 2020

Reader suspects parents may be alcoholics
DEAR HARRIETTE: I believe that my parents are alcoholics. They drink just about every night, and often they drink excessively. I can always tell when they have had too much because they get loud and obnoxious. I have spoken to my mom about this many times when she is sober. She blows me off.
Friday, January 24, 2020

Reader sees neighbor's underage kid at club
I went to a nightclub with some of my friends from work, and while I was there, I saw one of my neighbor's children. This guy has got to be underage. He is tall, so maybe that's how he got in, but he's definitely under 21. He was hanging out and drinking with a group of young people. He never seemed to get out of control, but he shouldn't have been there, and he shouldn't have been drinking. I spoke to him, so he knows that I saw him.
Thursday, January 23, 2020

Seeing old friend brings on wake-up call
I saw a woman over the holidays who I had not seen for about 15 years. It was so nice to see her and to reconnect. One thing that bothered me, though, was that I could see that when she looked at me, she noticed that I have gained a lot of weight. She didn't say anything, but I saw her see me. I feel bad enough that I no longer have the figure I had when I was younger.
Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Kids annoyed at parent requiring lotion
My children get mad at me because I'm old-school: I don't care how old they are -- I don't want them leaving home without putting on lotion. I can't stand looking at ashy skin. It looks bad, but what's worse is that your skin can crack if you don't keep it moisturized.
Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Self-employed reader gets called for jury duty
I got called for jury duty. I had been able to dodge it for the past 10 years or so, but this time they said I have to come. I'm self-employed, and I can't afford to take off this time. How can I make clear my circumstances?
Monday, January 20, 2020

Procrastinating reader needs to prioritize time
I am a serious procrastinator. I have been like this for as long as I can remember, but it is starting to catch up with me in bad ways. I was recently late on a project at work because I took too long to get started.
Friday, January 17, 2020

Husband's TV choices bother reader
My husband and I have very different tastes in television programs. I like romance and drama. He watches shows about UFOs. It makes my skin crawl when he turns on shows about extraterrestrials and then lectures me about his beliefs -- backed up by these programs -- that aliens are living among us. I don't believe it, but I also know that I can't do anything about it, even if it is true.
Thursday, January 16, 2020

Reader wants to pay off credit card debt
I spent too much money on Christmas gifts, even though I promised myself that I would stick to a budget. Now I'm saddled with several thousand dollars' worth of credit card bills exactly at the time when I wanted to be starting fresh financially. How can I change my habits given that I already messed up and the year is just starting?
Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Reader wants to invite absentee dad to wedding
My parents broke up when I was a little kid. At first my dad would come around once or twice a month to see us, but after a few years, he hardly ever showed up.

I am now an adult. I live and work on my own, and my life is pretty good. I am about to get married, and I want to reconcile with my dad. I want him to be at my wedding and to be a part of my new life. I have contacted him, and he says he will come.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Teenage sons obsessed with video games
I have two sons who love to play video games more than just about anything. They are middle schoolers, but they rarely want to go out and socialize. They do connect online with other kids who plays these games. I suppose I should be happy that they aren't out roaming the streets, but it is weird to me that they are so absorbed in their games. It doesn't seem healthy. How can I get them to come up for air?
Monday, January 13, 2020

Dear Harriette
DEAR HARRIETTE: I went to visit my sister, who is single and retired. We talk on the phone a lot, but we haven't spent time together for a couple of years. I was surprised to see how sedentary her life has become. Basically she sits around and watches TV all day. She looks at romantic movies back-to-back from the time she wakes up until late at night. The only time she looks at anything else is when she is watching political news.
Saturday, January 11, 2020

Puppy owner considering letting mom adopt him
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a puppy. I'm happy about it, but at the same time, I feel bad. I am in school, and I work almost every day. My puppy ends up staying in a kennel for 10 to 12 hours a day while I'm away. When I get home, he is so happy to see me. I spend some time with him, but I'm so tired I don't really have the energy to play. Plus, I often go out at night. I'm 20 years old, and I have an active social life. I feel like I got my puppy before I was ready to accept responsibility for it.
Friday, January 10, 2020

Check, please! Splitting the bill can be awkward
My family went out to dinner with friends of ours who were in town visiting. There were five of them and three of us, and the restaurant was kind of expensive. When it came time to pay the bill, it was a little awkward. Normally we would just split the bill, but the number of people in each party was so different. When I thought about it, though, I was OK with splitting it because we had drinks and the others drank water. (Alcoholic beverages always hike up the bill.)
Thursday, January 9, 2020

Client debates leaving older accountant
I have worked with the same accountant for more than 20 years. He is a good man who has always helped me with the finances. In recent years, I have noticed that he is slowing down a lot. He is an older guy. I wonder if I should be looking for someone to fill his shoes. I worry that without this support, I will be in trouble. I don't want to upset him, though. Should I talk to him about it? I'm not quite sure what to do.
Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Family road trip music choices cause stress
My family takes a lot of driving trips to visit family and friends, even when we are going on vacation. It is the most affordable way for a family of five to get around. Where we run into trouble is that each of us likes different music. Our musical tastes could not be more different. So what happens is that there is an ongoing battle as to whose music gets played. When we are driving for five or more hours, this can be stressful. Do you have a recommendation on how to handle this?
Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Social media "friend" is overly friendly
Somehow I am connected to a young man on social media, and he is constantly sending me messages and tagging me on his various posts. At first, it didn't bother me, but now I find it annoying. Also, because he tags me and a host of other people on these posts, I now get communications from some of them -- more people I don't know. How can I get him to stop? I don't want to unfriend him, but I'm thinking that's what I need to do. I may also need to block him. Is that rude of me? I need to do something.
Monday, January 6, 2020

Reader wants to keep clothes in case of weight loss
I have at least three sizes of clothes in my closet that represent the range of weights that I have carried over the years. My weight has gone up and down, which is why I have kept some of the clothes. But now it's getting ridiculous. I don't have room for the clothes that fit and that I want to wear because of the closets full of clothes that fit a smaller me. I'm worried that if I do eventually lose, I won't have clothing to fit my smaller body. Should I hold on to some of the smaller ones?
Saturday, January 4, 2020

Freelancer wants to send client's calls to voicemail
I have a client who has no boundaries. She regularly calls me late in the evening and on weekends. I have made the mistake of answering; I work freelance and do want to be available to my clients, but she takes it too far. It's almost never urgent when she calls. I think she's catching up on work and checking off boxes when she gets to something she thinks she needs to address with me.
Friday, January 3, 2020

Woman questions how to deal with wrinkles
I have pale skin that has begun to wrinkle, even though I'm barely 40. I already know from looking at my mother that I am destined to look like an old woman well before my time. Some of my friends have been getting collagen injections and Botox to smooth out their wrinkles. One of my colleagues went a step further and had plastic surgery. I don't know what I should do, but I'm not ready to accept that I'm beginning to look like my grandmother. What do you recommend?
Thursday, January 2, 2020

Reader upset with client's delayed payment
I have a client who owes me a substantial amount of money, and I have been waiting for nearly five months for the check to come through. It's crazy. Ninety days is standard for this company, but it's almost double that now. When I asked about the payment about two months ago, I was assured that it would be paid in a matter of days. I don't want to be annoying, but I do want my money. How should I proceed? I want to keep them as clients, so I need to tread lightly.
Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Partygoer hates seeing photos later
I've been going to a lot of holiday parties and end-of-year events in the past few weeks. It has been a lot of fun -- until I see myself in photos. I don't usually take pictures, but I have seen photos of me that have been posted on different people's social media pages, and I hate how I look. I have no misconceptions about myself as a middle-aged person, but I feel like people pick shots where they look good and they don't care about how the other people look. I hate that.
Monday, December 30, 2019

Friend doesn't put forth any effort
DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a friend my mother calls "sometime-y." When he is interested, he is very attentive; when he is distracted, he could not care less. I have sent him texts with friendly messages and photos to lift him up during a tough period. Not once has he responded that he received even one communication. I get that I shouldn't be upset because he is going through a rough patch, but this isn't new behavior. Even during so-called good times, he disappears and doesn't engage in what I consider to be a thoughtful way. It's like he takes and takes, but only gives when he feels like it. I'm not sure how to react. I am tired of putting forth effort without even the tiniest acknowledgment. Do you have any ideas? -- Rude Friend
Saturday, December 28, 2019

Parent wants son to feel pride in his family life
DEAR HARRIETTE: My son goes to a private school with some very wealthy people. They don't generally flaunt their wealth, but around the holidays, it becomes apparent. Most of my son's friends are traveling to different parts of the world for the end of the year. We, on the other hand, live modestly. My son received a generous scholarship to the school, which is why he can even go there.
Friday, December 27, 2019

World Almanac
Today is the 360th day of 2019 and the sixth day of winter.
Thursday, December 26, 2019

Employee forced to pay for business travel
DEAR HARRIETTE: I recently started a job that involves a lot of travel. I was given a company credit card but was told that I have to pay for my own food and charge the company back for a small percentage of it. Basically, they provide us with a tiny per diem. Worse than that, though, is that on my third trip out, I discovered that my company credit card didn't work because the company hadn't paid the bill. I ended up having to use my personal credit card. I am still waiting to be reimbursed. How can I address this with my boss? I need this job, but I can't afford to fund my travel. I'm on the road several times a month. What can I say or do to correct this? -- Can't Float the Job
Thursday, December 26, 2019

Reader wants to respect Jehovah's Witness mother-in-law
DEAR HARRIETTE: My mother-in-law is Jehovah's Witness. She explained to me that this means she doesn't celebrate any holidays. Her husband is a more mainstream Christian, so he does celebrate.
Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Daughter traumatized by rappers' deaths
DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter loves rap music, and she is very upset right now. She says that her favorite artists keep dying. She went to a music festival a couple of months ago, and one of the artists, Juice Wrld, just died, possibly from an accidental overdose. About a year ago, another of her favorite artists, XXXTentacion, was murdered, just like another one who was trying to do good in his neighborhood, Nipsey Hussle.
Monday, December 23, 2019

Reader wants to disappear for the holidays
I am going on vacation at Christmastime this year. I usually go to visit my family, but my mother passed away a few months ago, and there is no family home to visit. I feel a bit lost right now, given that both of my parents are gone, which is why I scheduled this trip. It's a cruise, and I'm going by myself. I am an only child, and I don't have close friends. My co-workers told me that I am running away.
Saturday, December 21, 2019

Parent wants to protect son while on trip
My 8-year-old son was invited to go skiing with some of his friends from school during winter break. This sounds like a lot of fun -- and scary. My son has never skied before. I'm nervous that his friends, who have been skiing since they were 5, will abandon him.
Friday, December 20, 2019

Tenant questions donating to building handyman
A note was posted on my apartment door informing the tenants that one of the long-time handymen in the building is ill and won't be coming back. The person who posted this notice asked if we, the tenants, would make a donation to help him during his time of need.
Thursday, December 19, 2019

It's not too late to make a fresh start
We are approaching the end of this year, and I hate to admit it, but I have not reached the goals I set for myself back in January. It seems like the year has zipped by. I worked a lot, but not on the things that I had prioritized. I have mainly done the status quo: working to pay the bills, seeing my friends a little bit, communicating more on social media than anything and mostly being isolated
Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Customer should expect money back in timely manner
I bought some jewelry from a vendor, but I needed to return it. We organized the return, but she gave me the wrong ZIP code. It took me a month to track the package so that she could pick it up. Now it has been another month, and she hasn't gone to pick it up. At this point, I'm tired of waiting for my money back. It's on her that she has had family and work issues and hasn't been able to go to the distribution center to pick up the package. I feel that I should not have to wait any longer.
Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Neighbor shocked to learn man is getting evicted
I recently learned that one of my neighbors lost his job and is about to be evicted. It turns out, he hasn't had electricity in his apartment for more than a year. Who knew? I feel horrible. I could have cooked him a hot meal or been more attentive.
Monday, December 16, 2019

Dear Harriette
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.
Saturday, December 14, 2019

Parent wants to support son's sexuality
DEAR HARRIETTE: I suspect that my teenage son is gay, but he won't talk to me about his life at all. I want to be supportive, and I have a male friend who is gay. Do you think it is appropriate for me to talk to my friend about this? I want to ask him if he would try to talk to my son to get a sense of where his head is and whether he needs someone to talk to who understands what's happening in his life. -- Sounding Board
Friday, December 13, 2019

Friend displaced due to gentrification
DEAR HARRIETTE: A friend of mine got displaced recently. Her neighborhood is being gentrified, and her apartment building was sold. She had no choice but to move -- even though she had lived there for more than 20 years. It was awful. She told me that she was moving out west, but I realize I have no idea where she is. I have tried to reach her, but I've only gotten to her through social media. We used to talk periodically. I am worried that she is not doing well. What do I do? -- Displaced Friend
Thursday, December 12, 2019

Teenage son falling into the wrong crowd
My son has started hanging out with a group of boys who are constantly getting into trouble. He is in the ninth grade at a new school, and I know he has had to figure out how to fit in, but what he is doing is not good for him. They have gotten in trouble for smoking marijuana on school property and drinking at a party with a bunch of other kids.
Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Lonely cousin calls too often
I have a love-hate relationship with my cousin. We have become close in recent years, but he also gets on my nerves.
Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Daughter too self-involved to make time for nanny
When my daughter was a baby, we had a nanny who took care of her for many years. Time has passed so quickly; my daughter is about to go to college.
Monday, December 9, 2019

Reader wonders when to go to the hospital
In the past few weeks, I have learned about several friends or people that I know who have died in their sleep. It is scaring me so much. These people were pretty young -- in their 40s and 50s. Each seemed relatively healthy, though one woman had the flu or some other similar respiratory problem. They have got me so worried, I can hardly sleep.
Saturday, December 7, 2019

Boyfriend acts cagey after business trip
My boyfriend told me that he was going on a business trip last week. When he got home, he dodged any questions about his trip. I did something I know I shouldn't have: I looked at his phone and went through his text messages. While I can't be 100% sure, it looks to me like he is seeing someone else. Maybe it's a colleague or another person, but some of the messages while he was away seem personal and intimate -- and they are not written to me or by me. I'm not sure what to do about this. I fear that if I ask him, he will just lie. But the words on his phone definitely point to something fishy going on. How should I proceed?
Friday, December 6, 2019

Mom wants to make sure identical twins are individuals
I have 10-year-old twin sons. Over the years, my husband and I have often given them the same gifts for holidays. We have done that in part because they are so similar. They are identical, and they spend most of their time together. This year, one of my twins took me aside and asked me to get him something very different from his brother. He further asked if I wouldn't tell his brother because he didn't want him to decide he wanted the same thing.
Thursday, December 5, 2019

Group's dysfunction causes volunteer to consider quitting
I belong to a public service organization that is largely dysfunctional. I know that's a bold statement, but I'm not kidding. I joined thinking that we were going to do good work for children in need in our community, but it looks like what we do more than anything is argue and bicker over little things that shouldn't matter. I have tried to speak up for the people we are supposed to represent, but I feel like the arguing is drowning out the good work that we are trying to do. I feel like it is time for me to resign my position. Some friends in the organization are encouraging me to run for president instead. I just don't think that I can make a big enough difference, even if I could win. I'm also not a quitter. What should I do?
Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Preteen daughter needs a bra
My daughter is 10 years old, and she is already developing like a teenager. I am torn as to how to deal with this. When I was growing up, my mother made me wear undershirts until I was a teenager. She said that a nice girl shouldn't wear a bra until she is a teen. My daughter clearly needs to wear a bra. Without one, she is actually drawing more attention to her body than if she had more control of her budding breasts. I feel like I should get her fitted for a bra, but I keep hearing my mother's voice in my head. How can I reconcile this and support my child?
Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Friend lashes out over husband's medical issues
My girlfriend has been confiding in me about her sex life with her husband. He has erectile dysfunction, and she is upset about it. He won't go to the doctor because he is too embarrassed.
Monday, December 2, 2019

Dear Harriette
DEAR HARRIETTE: I work in a conservative office where most people wear dark suits every day. I have conformed as much as I feel comfortable, but I hate wearing dark clothes all the time. Before this job, I wore bright colors every day. I don't want to rock the boat too much, but I feel unhappy when I cannot express even a little of my personality through my attire. I want to add pops of color in my blouses, dresses or accessories. Is this too radical? -- Too Dark
Saturday, November 30, 2019

Reader wants to avoid political conversations
DEAR HARRIETTE: The holidays are coming, and I am worried about how the conversations will go. We will be traveling down South to visit family, and in our relatively small family, we do not share similar political views. Given how divided Americans are in general, I am concerned about how our dinner-table conversations will go. In previous years, some of my cousins got into serious arguments with other family members because they did not agree on basic principles -- and this was before today's name-calling and nasty commentary.
Friday, November 29, 2019

Friend wants to pull daughter from team after accident
My friend has a daughter who is a gymnast. She is on scholarship at her college for gymnastics, and she is very good at it.
Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Woman ashamed to have health issues
I am 60 years old, and I feel like I am fitting a stereotype for too many people my age. A few years ago, I started having little health issues that have grown into bigger ones. I currently take a handful of meds for diseases that were probably preventable if I had paid better attention years ago. I haven't told any of my family members about my ailments because I am embarrassed. As an African American woman, it felt almost inevitable that I would get hypertension and diabetes, but I had told myself I wouldn't let it happen to me. I have failed. I don't want to admit this to my family. What can I do to take care of myself and still keep my secrets?
Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Colleague taken aback by friend's story
I was talking to a colleague, and we were bragging about our children -- something that many parents do for small talk. I was saying something upbeat about my daughter when she revealed that her daughter was having a difficult childhood in part because she and her husband were going through a nasty divorce during that time. I listened and stopped talking about my life, which sounded idyllic in comparison.
Monday, November 25, 2019

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