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Dear Harriette: I am a professional life coach. I help clients sort out their problems and make smarter choices. So far, it’s been going well. I mainly get clients through word of mouth.

The one thing that I haven’t figured out is how to get my friends and family to pay for my services. It’s one thing to give a little advice here and there, but several people in my life go so far as to call me and to schedule time to pick my brain without ever considering that they should pay for my services. Meanwhile, they will pay for all kinds of other services, such as manicures, the hairdresser and all kinds of other beauty services. I don’t know why they should be more valuable than the services I offer. What can I do? — Time to Charge

Dear Time to Charge: Family members and friends often take loved ones for granted without meaning to. They are likely so accustomed to you doling out advice that it hasn’t occurred to them that they should pay. It can be difficult getting them to pay even after you make them aware of their behavior.

One way to create boundaries around your work is to let them know that this is how you earn a living. Offer to “give” a half-hour of free advice. Any professional counseling time after that you can offer to them at a friends-and-family discount. In this way, you let them know what your standard fees are and what you are willing to offer them. If they balk, stop giving them advice. Tell them you just want to hang out and enjoy each other’s company and not have to work. Then, stick to it.

Dear Harriette: My daughter just got injured and had to get 10 stitches in her leg. She has crutches and should heal fully. Her dilemma is that she is planning to go to an all-day outdoor concert in a couple of days. She is not supposed to bend her knee so that she doesn’t break the stitches. I don’t think going to a concert where she will be on her feet for many hours is smart. The nurse said she should be fine and able to attend, but I think it’s too much. How do you think I should handle this? — The Right Thing

Dear The Right Thing: Take it one day at a time. Since the nurse gave her clearance, at least you have one medical professional saying it should be OK. But you will be with your daughter and can see how she is mending. Look at her wound each day as you dress it.

At the same time, do more research on the location of the concert. How much seating is there? Which acts does she really want to see? You may want to limit how long she will be at the concert, if you let her attend at all. As upset as your daughter may be, do not let her attend if you are concerned that she will injure herself again. You have to be the parent in this scenario and do what’s safe for your child.

Dear Harriette: I forgot a friend’s birthday. I have a busy schedule with work and kids, and my memory isn’t as sharp as it once was. I realized my mistake six days after his birthday, and I sent over an apology. He told me that my forgetting made him feel sad, and he explained that my mistake was the reason why he hadn’t been in communication with me, although I’ve been so busy I didn’t even realize that. I’m struggling to determine if he is overreacting or if I really messed up. He did remember my birthday, but I feel as though it’s not too much of a crime that I forgot. I don’t think he accepted my apology. Should I leave the situation alone or continue to try and apologize? — Missed Birthday

Dear Missed Birthday: Clearly, your birthday call is important to your friend. Your momentary memory lapse was not lost on him. If you think your friend is still feeling hurt, you can reach back to him and make it clear that you still love him and know that recognizing his birthday is important. Tell him one more time that you are so sorry that you missed him this year, then point out that this lapse in no way reflects a lack of caring on your part. After reiterating your affection for your friend, let it go.

To help yourself in the future, you may want to put alarms in the calendar on your phone to remind you of important dates. Technology can support you.

Dear Harriette: My sister constantly complains to me about her boyfriend. Whenever they get into an argument, she runs back to me and accuses him of awful actions, which makes me feel negatively about him. Then a few days later, she’ll get back with him as if nothing ever happened.My sister gets confused about why my attitude toward her boyfriend is negative, and I tell her it’s because of the things she tells me. She recently explained that her venting is all about getting someone on her side for the moment while releasing her frustrations. I want to be supportive, but I also want her to stop venting and taking me on her own toxic emotional roller coaster. — In the Middle

Dear In The Middle: You have to stand up for yourself. Stop your sister the next time she starts complaining about her boyfriend. Tell her that you cannot listen anymore because it is too difficult for you to experience the roller coaster of emotions that she dumps on you. Tell your sister that you love her and want her to be happy, but you are not able to be the dumping ground for her emotional challenges with her boyfriend.

To enforce this new position, you may literally have to end a conversation by saying goodbye and hanging up the phone or walking out of the room. If you stop listening entirely, she will eventually get the message that she cannot use you in this way.

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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