DEAR HARRIETTE: I visited my friend’s home today. We went out to eat with her family. My friend has a sister, Beth, who has Tourette’s and mental disabilities. Beth’s tics are frequent, and I noticed people looking over at us as she had them. This was my first experience being stared at in a restaurant, and I felt so sympathetic to my friend’s family, who has learned to ignore the stares. During the meal, someone came up and asked what Beth was doing. I was astonished by how brazen this was. The mother politely explained that Beth has uncontrollable tics. I always assumed it would never be the family’s responsibility to explain a disability to a nosey stranger. Should the mother have told the stranger to get away from our table? – None of Their Business, Jackson, Mississippi

DEAR NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS: Observing your friend’s mother was wise of you. This family has had to learn how to navigate their everyday life with a child who has noticeable disabilities. The mom has an appropriate amount of compassion for others who notice her daughter’s tics and are curious. Rather than being offended, she takes the position that she must educate others. This is probably the easiest way to manage. Your friend’s mom knows that unless you have witnessed or had to deal with someone with such a disorder, you likely have no idea what it is or how to behave when you see it happening.

This doesn’t mean that people in a restaurant or other establishment should feel they have the right to ask what’s wrong with a person in your party. People should mind their business. But if someone approaches respectfully, giving context to the disabled person’s condition may be the easiest way to end the engagement.

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DEAR HARRIETTE: My boyfriend has just confessed to me that his dad has been unfaithful to his mother for years. My boyfriend just found this out, and he does not know if his parents will be getting divorced. I have already made the decision to not tell my parents because I have heard their opinions about cheating. Now I do not know how to act when I see his dad; I have lost so much respect for him. This cheating has been going on my boyfriend’s whole life. I have never had to deal with something like this in my family. Do I pretend to not know about this when I speak to his father? – Cheating Scum, Baltimore

DEAR CHEATING SCUM: As hard as it may be to keep your mouth shut, you must. This is completely not your business. What happens between your boyfriend’s parents is their concern. Since you and your boyfriend are close and he just learned, I understand why he told you. You can be a good listener as he processes this information, but be mindful not to be judgmental with him. These are his parents. He will go through a range of emotions. Just be there for him. Love him. Listen, and keep your opinions to yourself.

— Lifestylist and author Harriette Cole is president and creative director of Harriette Cole Media. You can send questions to [email protected] or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.