Dear Harriette -- I am a 21-year-old college student without steady employment. I currently live with my family.
My grandmother has been retired a year now, and relies on Social Security. My mother, a school-bus driver, has an income level fluctuating between poverty and middle class.
This doesn't leave much money to help me, so I decided to become an exotic dancer to provide for myself (until I find another day job). They aren't too thrilled about what I do, but it's my life.
My mother recently gave me an ultimatum: Stop or get out. I enjoy what I do, and I don't believe it will hinder my education or keep me from finding a "regular" job.
Besides, it's not as if I won't have a place to stay. I have worked out those details.
I'm afraid if I tell them I'm ready to move out, they'll disown me, but I feel I'm able to take care of myself now. What should I do?
Nina, New York, N.Y.
Dear Nina --Know that your family's ultimatum is born of their love and concern for you. If you intend to continue your job and move, lessen the blow by talking openly with them.
Share the big vision for your life, including a timetable for reaching your goals. Is there anything you can describe about your job that will set your family's minds at ease -- especially in regards to safety?
Then let them know your short-term plans: that you have found a place to live on your own, that you intend to finish school and that you plan to continue in your job.
Ask for their blessing as you set off on this next course. And pay close attention. Your job is hardly ideal. Be mindful while you are engaged in this activity.
Dear Harriette --My brother gave my phone number to a co-worker who thought I was attractive. We met for coffee, but there was no real connection, and I didn't return his call when he asked me out on a real date.
A week later, my brother tells me this isn't just any co-worker -- it's his boss.
If I'd known, I certainly would have played along, but, then again, isn't it best that I nipped it in the bud before it got too messy?
My brother is fuming, but I think I'm correct.
Danyel, Memphis, Tenn.
Dear Danyel --Your brother was wrong. Don't feel guilty for being yourself.
It may be that your brother thought you would impress his boss. If he really cares about you and his boss, he would have made it clear up front who you were meeting.
It was foolish of him to set you up without clear information. You would likely have been more engaging, even if you had no interest in the man.
You could have fished for information about your brother -- how he's doing at work, etc. Instead, your brother has made a mess of it, and now he has to fish his way out of this situation.
Life coach and author Harriette Cole is the creative director of "Ebony" magazine. You can send questions to askharriette @harriettecole.com.