I’m 13, and I’m writing you about my best friend. Her life at home has always sucked, but now it has reached a new level. Her grandmother is no longer paying for her tuition, her parents verbally abuse her and yesterday she attempted suicide. Luckily, she called me and I talked her through it.
I don’t know how to help her. I can’t talk to her parents because they’ll be no help, but I don’t know what will happen if I tell my parents. Please help me.
— NEEDS ANSWERS in California
DEAR NEEDS ANSWERS,
You are a caring friend. The one thing you shouldn’t do in a misguided effort to “protect” your friend is to remain silent. When someone threatens suicide, it is time to act.
You should absolutely tell your parents everything you know so they can inform her parents. If your parents are hesitant to do that, confide in a trusted teacher or counselor at school so your friend can get the help she appears to desperately need. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s toll-free number is 800-273-8255. Please share it with your friend. But if she tells you again that she has injured herself, call 911.
She’s not doing him any favors
I have a 23-year-old stepson who continues to bully my wife into taking care of him. She recently helped him to buy a home, even though she knew his current earnings would not be enough to cover his car, insurance, phone, cable, etc.
He continues to make his problems ours. He called yesterday telling his mom he needs brakes. We already pay his insurance on the vehicle and other small, unexpected bills. Oh, and by the way, he has a baby on the way.
I have tried repeatedly to talk to my wife about enabling him, but she refuses to see that she is keeping him dependent. What can I say or do to help her get on the right path?
— MAN-CHILD PROBLEMS
Ideally, spouses are supposed to agree before spending large amounts of community assets. Marriage counseling might help you to get through to her. But if it doesn’t, consider consulting a lawyer about protecting your assets.
I agree that your wife is enabling her son, and she’s not doing him any favors in the long run. However, if the money she’s giving him is her own, you can’t stop her from doing it.
a gift moose
in the mouth
We live down the street from my boyfriend’s mother. Our 3-year-old daughter spends a few hours there while I’m at work and her dad is running errands. My daughter loves her grandparents, so I don’t mind her spending time with them.
The problem I have is, my boyfriend’s mother repeats everything I say to my daughter right after I say it when I ask her to do something! It drives me crazy. My boyfriend tells me to say something to her, but I have no idea what to say. Please help.
— ECHOED, in Alaska
Stop complaining. At least your mother-in-law agrees with you and reinforces what you tell your daughter. Consider it a small price you pay for free baby-sitting.
My sister “Maddy” is in 12th grade and will graduate soon. I don’t want her to graduate because it means she’ll be moving away, and I won’t get to see my best friend every day. I don’t know whether to be happy about her graduating, or angry. Please help me.
— MIXED UP IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR MIXED UP,
Try to be happy for your sister. Explain to Maddy why you have been behaving the way you have so she will understand.
From your description of your emotions, it appears you may be suffering from a version of empty-nest syndrome. It’s a malady that often strikes parents when their child is about to “launch.” An effective way to counteract it is to find activities you enjoy and keep yourself busy so you will have less time to brood.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.