My high-school best friend and I have been by each other’s side forever. We even thought about things the same way... at least until now.
We had kids around the same time, with my eldest a year older than hers. We both have a boy and a girl. We’ve also parented similarly, until now.
Her daughter's become sullen and morose. My friend has talked to me through the whole pandemic but she didn’t reveal how bad this situation has become.
Our two families met for a walk pre-lockdown, and I was shocked at her daughter’s transformation from a sweet, bubbly tween to this nasty girl.
When I asked my friend how she’s handling it, she said, “She’s just seeking attention. No one can help her.”
I was surprised at my friend’s lack of desire to help her child. I’m afraid to say anything about it, yet more afraid to not say anything, for the girl’s sake. What’s the right thing for me to do?
Open the door to communication about concern over her daughter, but don’t stumble right through it.
Your friend seems very uncomfortable, perhaps more than you realize. She may already have talked to the girl’s teacher and/or a psychologist or other professional about her, and isn’t ready to share what she heard.
Also, the girl’s “transformation” may’ve knocked the wind out of your friend’s pride in her. If you probe her about the behaviour change, she may distance from your friendship rather than answer.
Yet your intentions are from kindness and caring. So, simply say that you hope her daughter’s okay, and if there’s anything you can do to help either the girl or your friend, you’re there for them.
I'll qualify this question by stating that I’m a bit of an imbecile.
Why do I enjoy listening to intelligent women on the radio? Not in an arousing way, I just like to hear the conversations.
But when I hear them give the weather report, I do have a moment given to flights of fancy. Is that an issue?
Silly but Serious
Since you expect an answer to your seeming-fanciful thoughts, be aware that there’s evident meaning in them.
Your use of the offensive word “imbecile” is an unpleasant deception that you’re not aware of what you’re doing/feeling about women.
If they sound intelligent on radio, you can handle that from a distance. BUT, if there’s a visual connection to female “weather” reporters, you’re given to fantasizing.
Meanwhile, there’s no reference to any actual relationship with a woman.
The next question now comes from me: Are your mixed inner reactions, absent any real connection to women, an issue for you? If yes, write back and I’ll be happy to respond.
FEEDBACK Regarding the parents whose daughter’s husband has stopped working and is drinking to excess:
“Al-Anon is a very important and invaluable source of help that you overlooked for both the wife and her parents.
“Given the behaviour described, alcoholism is very likely the problem as it often leads to depression, job loss and financial disaster.
“In these times of COVID-19, hundreds of meetings are available online. This wife and her parents could begin receiving priceless help and support immediately, which they desperately need and which won't cost a fortune.”
Ellie - I do often mention Al-Anon’s support for the same good reasons that you wrote about here. I’m glad that you reminded me that it’s worth repeating.
FEEDBACK Regarding a woman’s loss of her husband, and the subsequent reaction of her step-children to the loss of their father (January 1):
“Thank you for what you wrote about this situation. You hit the nail on the head. We don't talk about grief and death enough.
“I was an elementary school teacher for 30 years. Death is a subject that came up several times. It really should be part of the curriculum for Grades 1 to 12.
“At the end of the day, it affects all of us at some point. I know this for myself, with my dad who’s 81 and on dialysis. My mom is 79, diabetic and a bladder cancer survivor.
“Thank you for saying that the loss of a parent is a blow that hurts forever. We fail to realize what we have until it’s too late. I’m looking forward to being able to travel again to see them.”
Tip of the day:
Tell a friend with a difficult situation that you’re “there” to help discuss it, if that’s wanted.