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Harriette Cole: She walked through a closed screen door. Is it our problem?

Harriette Cole: She walked through a closed screen door. Is it our problem?

DEAR HARRIETTE: My family is renting a home from friends for the summer. We had guests arrive this week, and as soon as one of them showed up, she walked through the screen door, destroying the frame. She did not get hurt, but the door is busted.

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We don’t have a contract with our friends, but I’m wondering who is liable. Do we need to pay for the door replacement, given that this happened on our watch?

We would like to stay here again, but we aren’t thrilled about having to shell out money for the door. What is your take on this?

— Liability

DEAR LIABILITY: Legally, you may not be liable since you have no contract, but you need to look at the big picture. If you do not pay for the damage that occurred during your stay — courtesy of your guests — chances are, you will not be invited back.

Your friend who broke the door should offer to pay for the damages, by the way. But you should shoulder the responsibility since the house was under your care when the incident occurred.

Don’t make your hosts ask you for it either. Be proactive and let them know that you intend to handle it.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I am a stay-at-home wife, and I do not have any children.

While I understand that some people might not see this as a conventional situation, I have grown increasingly frustrated with people asking me what I do all day. It almost feels like they are suggesting that I do not have a purpose or that my days are empty and meaningless.

Having a full-time career has never been a goal of mine, and I would much rather be a housewife than work a job I am not passionate about.

So, my question is, how do I respond to these kinds of questions? How do I let people know that my life has value and that being a housewife without children is just as fulfilling as any other occupation? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

— Fulfilled

DEAR FULFILLED: People live all kinds of ways. You are entitled to live based on your desires and capabilities.

Too often, people have strong opinions about how those without children spend their time. They attempt to fill in the blanks with their own preconceived notion of what is normal or appropriate. Don’t fall into that trap.

If others don’t understand how you live, that’s their problem — unless you make it your own. Don’t.

You may want to form a narrative for yourself of what your life is like. What do you do all day? How do you occupy your time? Think about that seriously and record the answers — but only for yourself.

Then design a narrative that paints a clear-enough picture of your world for your friends and associates while also keeping your world private from those you do not deem worthy of being invited in.

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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