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

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

I'm incredibly disappointed that you would give that boyfriend a free pass and put all the burden of raising the young child on the mother and the grandmother. The message you sent was terrible, and you should retract it. As a member of our local school board, I can speak from experience -- these are exactly the situations that are creating the problems that local school districts, communities and law enforcement have to undo. They're problems created when adults don't want to parent their own children. -- Take Responsibility

DEAR TAKE RESPONSIBILITY: Thank you for your letter and clear concern about how I addressed a sensitive matter. The question was about a young woman with a baby whose boyfriend is supposed to watch their child on occasion. When it is his turn, he typically gives the child to his mother, who watches the baby. The young mother was upset about this. My response suggested that it may be a blessing that the grandmother is stepping up and caring for the child.

You make an important point here: The young man does need to learn how to care for his child. My intention was not to give him a pass. It was to make sure that the baby is properly cared for. I remember that as responsible as my husband attempted to be in the early days, I was sometimes legitimately worried that he was not as safe as I thought the moment called for. Quite frankly, when my daughter was an infant, I was worried to leave them alone together. I definitely needed help -- including from him -- but it took time before I felt that he was capable of handling her on his own. It was from that perspective that I considered that Grandma watching this baby could be a blessing.

What I didn't take into account in response to this young woman was that the man does need to figure it out. I recommend that the learning curve would best occur if the couple is together and the new mom can teach him what she wants him to learn about caring for their child. If that is at all possible, it may lead to a healthier engagement on his part and relief on hers -- over time.

Even if they are not together as a couple, given that they both created this child, hopefully he will agree to be an active participant and learn how to care for the baby. If the two can spend some time together each week, he will grow confident enough to watch his child successfully. The new mom can also talk to his mother to ask her to help her son to participate in child care when the baby is there.

DEAR HARRIETTE: My boyfriend grew up skiing his whole life, as did all of his friends. I have never skied in my life. This spring break, our friends (who are all couples) decided they want to go on a ski trip to Aspen, Colorado. I agreed I would go along because I didn't want to be the Debbie Downer of the group. As the trip gets closer, I am getting more nervous about the fact that everyone else on the trip are avid skiers, whereas I am a beginner. I have signed up for a couple of ski lessons while I am there, but I feel like I will be left out of most of the activities because I don't ski. What can I do to make the best out of this trip? How can I feel included? -- Girlfriend Who Can't Ski, Roxbury, Massachusetts

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DEAR GIRLFRIEND WHO CAN'T SKI: Talk to your boyfriend about your conundrum. Ask him if he will spend a little time with you on the beginner slopes. You can call it a date! This should happen after you have taken at least one lesson so that you have the fundamentals in mind.

Decide that you are going to have fun. While most activities are on the snow, usually there are things to do inside in the lodge -- from watching movies to going to the spa (depending upon where you are staying) to hanging out and reading a book. Keep your eyes open. Chances are, there will be others there who are not skiing for whatever reason. Strike up a conversation with them. Plan activities with your friends for when they come back. You can make it work.

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DEAR HARRIETTE: I am writing to you not about myself, but about a close friend of mine. She has been one of my best friends for eight years now. She has been dating her current boyfriend for about two years. I have started to notice that I see less of her, and the only times I do get to see my friend are when her boyfriend is busy. To me, it seems like her whole schedule and life revolve around her boyfriend and his schedule.

My friend's relationship is none of my business, but I'm getting tired of being her backup plan and being used when it is convenient for her. Should I say something to her, or not bother bringing it up? -- Best Friend Vs. Boyfriend, Albuquerque, New Mexico

DEAR BEST FRIEND VS. BOYFRIEND: Yours is a classic tale, even though it feels fresh now that it's happening to you personally. Friends frequently lose sight of their besties when they fall in love. It's almost like time suspends and they don't realize that the rest of the people in their world have fallen to the wayside.

You can point out to your friend that you miss her and that you are beginning to feel neglected. Suggest that you create a standing date with her, perhaps once a month. Ask her to honor your time and not dump you if the boyfriend calls. See if bringing it to her attention coupled with a positive plan of action helps.

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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