Q I feel so uncomfortable all over again. We have spent what felt like nearly two years homebound because of the COVID-19 pandemic. My family and I followed all of the protocols recommended. We were strict with our children. Now, it seems all for naught. My daughter caught COVID-19, not because she broke any rules, but because she ate lunch with other students at her school. Apparently one of them had COVID but didn’t know it. Almost all of the kids got it — and they are all vaccinated, some even with the booster shot.
My daughter spent her time off during the holidays sick in bed. Now she is afraid to go anywhere near her friends; they had just begun to “hang out” together a little bit again. Now they are basically back in isolation. What can we do? — COVID-19 Round Two
A This is a harrowing time for all of us. This latest variant seems to be whipping through many communities and knocking people down. As the disease is constantly changing, so, too, are the isolation requirements. Be sure to follow the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for quarantine and masking.
The CDC guidelines do not require that anyone stay home indefinitely. If you and your family are vaccinated, you can continue to be out among others, preferably wearing a mask, during this period of accelerated spread of the virus. If you have tested negative and are asymptomatic, you do not have to stay at home, at least for now. For more information, go to: cdc.gov/media/releases/2021/s1227-isolation-quarantine-guidance.html.
Q I am good friends with a girl that my older brother started dating casually. The two of them stopped speaking because she found out that he is seeing other people. She is mad at me for not telling her, but I didn’t think that things were serious enough between them that they were dating exclusively. I feel that she should leave me out of her issues with my brother because she and I have been friends for longer than they were seeing each other. What should I do? — Brother vs. Friend
A Tell your friend that you stopped getting involved in your brother’s business long ago. The two of you are friends, but you do not accept the responsibility of reporting his behavior to your friend — or anyone else. You have to be clear about this, or it will come back to bite you again and again.
You can add that you did not know that their relationship had transformed into something more serious than casual dating, but still, make it clear that you cannot be your brother’s warden. Add that you had hoped that your friendship with her was independent of her relationship with him. You love her and appreciate her. You also love your brother. You hope that you can be friends with her independent of him. What you cannot and will not do is be a go-between in their relationship.
Q I have a certain relative who berates me every time I do not do what she asks. She apologizes again and again, but I don’t forgive her. I cannot continue to let her disrespect me and belittle me whenever she wants to. I won’t be her personal punching bag. The best apology is changed behavior, and obviously she’s not willing to change. Should I cut her off for good? — Done With My Relative
A You may not need to cut her off for good, but you may decide to cut her off for now. Talk to her one more time so that there is no confusion or misunderstanding about what you are doing. Tell her that you are exhausted by her constant pleas for forgiveness that seem empty because they are not backed up by any type of behavioral change. Point out that you have had more than enough of her lashing out at you followed by hollow apologies. You have had enough. Tell her you do not want to communicate with her for a while. You are done forgiving her for not changing her ways. Then allow time to pass. The next time you see or hear from her, pay attention to see if she has improved at all.
Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.