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SENSE & SENSITIVITY, COLUMN BY HARRIETTE COLE

Start to pay back loans from friends

Friday, November 2, 2012 - 12:01 am

Q.: I borrowed money from a couple of friends last year when I was down on my luck. I was so grateful that they came through for me. It has been a tough year, and I'm finally getting back on my feet.

I realized the other day that I hadn't paid back my friends yet. I think it slipped my mind because of all the stress.

I don't have enough to completely pay people back, but I do have some of it. Should I offer what I have, or wait until I have the total amount? Also, should I say anything about being silent about their loans for so long? I'm embarrassed all over again. – Looking Up, Shreveport, La.

A.: It's fantastic that you are doing better financially these days. It's true that when people are experiencing serious stress, they sometimes neglect their responsibilities and even experience amnesia of sorts because of all the thoughts and worries. The good news is that you remember now!

Seize the moment. By all means, reach out to your friends. Thank them again for their generosity when you most needed it. Give them a brief update on how you are doing. Apologize for the delay in getting back to them. Offer to refund them whatever amount you can, and give them an estimate of when you can pay the balance. Write the new dates in your calendar, and be sure not to forget them.

Q.: My third-grader came home from school saying that a group of kids in her class almost came to blows as they discussed their “views” on the presidential election. I suppose it's great that these 8- and 9-year-olds are talking politics, but clearly they are just saying what their parents are saying. How can we keep them talking but prevent any fighting? – Political Mom, Syracuse, N.Y.

A.: It is good that children are aware of the presidential election. It means that adults who are potential voters are paying attention. You are right that the children are parroting their parents' views. That's all they know at such a young age. What you can do is speak to the teacher. Let the teacher know that the children are interested in the election and need some support in discussing it with decorum. Ask the teacher to set a discussion time where children can air their views and be guided on how to debate and disagree respectfully.

Lifestylist and author Harriette Cole is president and creative director of Harriette Cole Media. You can send questions to ask harriette@harriettecole.com or C/O Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.