DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a friend who loves to take photos and videos with her phone. No matter where we are or what we are doing, we catch her posting and even streaming live. It's crazy. Last week, my other friends and I caught her posting in the bathroom at a restaurant where we were eating. Don't get me wrong. We all like to take pictures and post sometimes, but she has taken it to a different level. We want her to stop including us in these posts. What can we say or do to get her to give us some privacy? -- Out of Bounds, Denver

DEAR OUT OF BOUNDS: Tell your friend that if she posts any more pictures of you without your permission, you won't invite her to hang out with you in the future. You have to make good on your threat. If she does stream or post and you spot yourself, tell her she violated your agreement and you don't want to see her for a while. If you get the rest of your friends to reinforce the temporary friend ban, she may get the message.

In this day and age, when every moment can be captured and shared, you cannot control much. You should be able to come to an agreement on boundaries of privacy with your close friends. Otherwise, you have the right to exclude them from your inner circle.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My teenage son promised to do his summer homework throughout the summer. Whenever my husband and I would ask how he was progressing, he said he was doing fine. Today I discovered he has so much more work to do, and school is about to start. Even if he works four hours a day, he probably won't be finished in time, and now it will be cramming rather than pacing it all out.

I am so disappointed in him. We were clear about what he had to do in order to have certain privileges. Now, as parents, we look like idiots because we trusted him. What can we do now to get him on track? -- Wayward Son, Boston

DEAR WAYWARD SON: Children, especially teenagers, need to be monitored. Asking if a child has completed work is not enough. You need the child to show you proof. What you can do now and into the school year is to limit privileges until the work is done. For now, take away his phone and other electronics. Have him work nonstop on the assignments that are due so that he can complete them. Check over his work daily -- even if you don't fully understand it. Make sure he did the work from beginning to end.

When school starts, be sure to continue to pay attention to his assignments and verify that he is doing the work daily. Be in touch with his teachers, and work together to help set a good work schedule that your son can follow. Let him use his cellphone only when he has proven to you he is taking his schoolwork seriously.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My family reunion is coming up, and I don't want to go. The past year has been a mess for me. My wife left me. I lost my job, and I've been temping for the past six months. I have no good news to contribute, and I don't feel like answering a whole bunch of questions.

I know my family means well, but when you are in my position, the last thing you want to do is talk about your misery. Or at least that's true for me. My mother is getting up in age, and she is set on having me pick her up and take her to the reunion. I'm not sure what to do. I don't want to disappoint her, but I don't want to have to talk to people, either. -- Keeping My Distance, Roanoke, Virginia

DEAR KEEPING MY DISTANCE: I want to remind you that most people like to talk about themselves, including your family members. You can likely go to the reunion, help your mother and divert most conversations back to the person talking. When asked how you are doing, you can say "OK," and ask about them. Ask about their children, jobs and lives.

Most people get caught up in their own stories and don't notice that you haven't told your own. If you are asked where your wife is, just say she didn't come. In time, you can let others know what's going on with you, if you choose. What's essential is that your mother must agree not to talk about your circumstances. Otherwise, it won't work.

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


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