#childsafety | Sense & Sensitivity | Advice

DEAR HARRIETTE: My assistant has been doing a good job at work, so I offered her a promotion and a 20% raise. I was surprised and disappointed by her response. She said she thought the raise wasn’t enough and that she deserves a lot more. I run a small business and do not have more to give her. I never know if all of my current contracts will last, so I have to keep sizable savings in order to pay for all of the expenses it takes to run the business. I know that many companies, including ones much larger than mine, don’t even give cost of living increases on a regular basis, let alone a whopping 20%. I can’t go higher, nor do I think she deserves it. But I also don’t want a disgruntled employee. How should I handle this? — Disappointed

DEAR DISAPPOINTED: Sit down with your assistant and remind her of how much you value her. That’s why you offered her both a promotion and a big raise. Acknowledge that you know she is not satisfied with your offer. Share insights with her about job trends in our country so that she can gain a bit of perspective on her situation. In 2019, for example, the U.S. Government’s cost of living increase for Social Security was 2.8%. Many corporations paid a similar amount to employees. According to indeed.com, the average raise these days is 4.5-6%, so 20% would be considered exceptional. That said, it probably doesn’t seem so great if the base salary was low. It can take time for a smaller starting salary to increase to a comfortable figure.

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For anyone looking to request a promotion or a raise right now, you may want to take a number of factors into consideration — take a self-assessment of your job performance to honestly consider whether you are deserving, prepare a presentation to demonstrate clear reasons why you are ready, and go in with confidence. Here are more suggestions: indeed.com/career-advice/pay-salary/what-is-a-reasonable-raise.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My daughter and her friends are stressing out as they wait to find out which colleges will accept them. Many of them did not get into their first-choice schools through the early decision process. The rest are waiting for early action and regular decision. Each time somebody gets rejected, there are lots of tears. I don’t know how to support my daughter or her friends. I keep telling her it will all work out, but that doesn’t seem to be much consolation. — Nail-Biting Time

DEAR NAIL-BITING TIME: Be a good listener. Let your daughter tell you what’s going on, and do your best to stay quiet. You cannot guarantee anything during this process, so don’t promise anything. Give her hugs if she welcomes them. Show her that you love her and support her. When she learns about schools on her list, be right there with her. If she is emotional, allow her to go through that. You can express your emotion, too. Now is not the time to be wooden or cold. Be yourself and remain the strong parent. Remember that it will all be settled by May. That seems far away, but it will be here in a blink.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I just graduated from high school, and it’s starting to sink in that I’m leaving the town I lived in for 18 years. I’m leaving my friends, my family and the only place I have ever known for a college 2,000 miles away. I thought I would be happy when I threw my cap into the air. I thought I would look forward to new people, places and things, but now I’m just plain scared. I’m scared the college I go to will make me miserable and I’ll waste $80,000 on my unhappiness. I’m scared my friends will make new college friends and forget about me. I’m scared that I’ll struggle to balance my academic and social lives to the point where I flunk out. Perhaps I’m not as ready for college as I once thought, and maybe I need to take a gap year instead.

How do I know whether these are just plain nerves or I actually need to take a break from everything? What happens if I take a gap year and am even more scared to go to college the following year? — Possible Gap Year Student

DEAR POSSIBLE GAP YEAR STUDENT: Take a moment to breathe. Look back at the past four years. Congratulate yourself on getting through one of the most difficult periods in our history and completing your high school studies. You should be proud of yourself.

You are now in a moment of transition. These can be frightening, primarily due to the uncertainty of the future. Instead of taking a gap year, which I know is popular, I recommend that you take a look at the plans that you have in place. Yes, college is expensive. Think about the school you have selected. Remind yourself why you chose it. What does it offer that appeals to you? Are any friends going there, or will this be a new adventure altogether? Are there summer activities that can help you get acclimated to the school?

Think about your friends. Make a pact to stay in touch during this first year. Be realistic. Agree to communicate once a month or occasionally via text or Snapchat. Do not obsess about what they are doing. All of you will be exploring and figuring out the college experience. Some may remain close as others naturally fade away. It’s all OK. Trust that you can take on this next step with excitement and enthusiasm. Don’t give up now. Stand up straight and forge ahead. You can do it — and enjoy each moment as it unfolds.

DEAR HARRIETTE: After that horrible condo collapse in Miami, I am scared of moving. I am about to relocate to a new city because of my job. I will be moving into a high-rise rental property. That means I can’t get the building management to do an inspection of the building or any such thing. I can’t afford a luxury building. How can I be sure that I will be safe where I’m going? I feel so sorry for all the people who lived in that building. How can I protect myself? — Afraid To Move

DEAR AFRAID TO MOVE: It will take some time before we learn exactly what happened that led to that tragedy in Miami. What we already know is that building inspections dating back to 2018 indicated that it had major structural damage. Those records should be public for any building.

Before moving into a rental, condo or any other type of building, request inspection records from the building management team. Though people rarely ask for them, they should be available for prospective tenants to peruse. If anyone refuses to let you see these records, move on until you find a building that is open to allowing you to see where they stand. Many buildings list specific repairs and maintenance that inspections reveal are needed. In some instances, these repairs are made in a timely manner, but in other cases, negligence sets in for a variety of reasons. After the pandemic, many businesses do not have the resources to handle maintenance in a timely manner. You will need to decide what repairs you are willing to live without as you search for your next home. Trust that it may take some time, but you will find a safe building in which to live.

DEAR HARRIETTE: When I graduated from high school, my dad and stepmother threw me a graduation party at their house. My mother and stepmom never had the best relationship, but they put their differences aside to celebrate my special day. Four years later, I am about to graduate from college, and my mom has decided to throw me a graduation party herself. She did not invite my stepmother to the celebration. I think it’s wrong that she wouldn’t invite my stepmother, but the celebration was going to be exclusively for my mother’s side of the family, so it does make a little bit of sense. My father told my mother that he isn’t going if my stepmom can’t go. What should I do? — Mom Vs. Stepmom

DEAR MOM VS. STEPMOM: Talk to your mother face-to-face. Thank her for wanting to create a special event to celebrate this momentous time in your life. Especially now, when people are just coming out to physically be together, this party means so much to you. And it is hurting you, your father and your stepmom that she is being excluded. Point out that this woman is family now. Tell your mother that you want your father to come to your celebration and he, naturally, wants his wife to attend. Ask her to put her personal feelings about this woman aside, as was done four years ago, so that your desire for both parents to be with you at your graduation party will be realized.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am dating a woman who has a 2-year-old child. I have no issue with the fact that she is a mother. I do, however, have an issue with the fact that she will not tell me who the child’s father is. Why is it some huge secret? We’ve only been dating for a month now, but I think I have a right to know. What if he’s dangerous and takes issue with me being around his child? Should I be worried that she won’t tell me? Is it none of my business? — Suspicious

DEAR SUSPICIOUS: It is too soon for you to be placing any demands on this woman about the identity of her child’s father. One month into this bond is still getting-to-know-each-other territory, surely a probationary period for your relationship. Women are often very private about such things for a host of reasons, ranging from wanting to keep that part of her life separate to not knowing who the father is — and plenty in between.

Your concerns are legitimate, however. Explain to your girlfriend why you are curious about her child’s father, particularly as it relates to safety. Ask her if there is any reason you should be on alert about being in a relationship with her, such as if this man might show up making his own demands, etc. Assure her that you like her and her baby, but if this relationship stands a chance, you will need to talk about her past — just as you share about yours.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to askharriette@harriettecole.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106

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