DEAR HARRIETTE: My best friend’s parents are going through a terrible divorce. Her parents fight in front of her all the time and constantly drag her into the middle of their feuds. My friend calls me at least twice a week crying about how she “hates her life” and “can’t live at home anymore.” She turns to me for advice and guidance because my parents also just got divorced, but their divorce was amicable, and I never got involved in their fights. This issue is out of my league, and I constantly tell my friend to seek professional help, but she only gets mad at me and accuses me of thinking that she is crazy because I tell her to see a psychologist. I cannot win. I either give my friend textbook advice and she complains that I don’t understand — yet she continues to call me — or I tell her to go to someone who can really help her and she gets mad. I feel I would be a bad friend if I told her I didn’t know what to do to help her. What else can I do for my friend? — Lisle, Phoenix, Ariz.
Dear Lisle: You are right to be concerned. Having gone through a family divorce does not make you an expert. It’s important not to forget that. Your friend needs help. Indeed, she is literally crying out for someone to save her. Only problem is that she fully believes you can magically fix this situation for her. You cannot. You have to keep telling her that. Explain that as much as you love her and want to be there for her, you do not have the answers. Tell her that you know she isn’t crazy and that you know divorce is tough. Continue to recommend counseling. You can also suggest that she read “The Bright Side: Surviving Your Parents’ Divorce” by Max Sindell (Health Communications, 2007).
Thanks very much for the recommendation! And Lisle, tell your friend that going to see a counselor doesn’t mean she’s crazy — I went to see one because everybody else was!