DEAR ABBY: My 15-year-old daughter, “Nadia,” has been friends with another girl, “Kelly,” since they were 8. Over the years, I have had my concerns about Kelly because she lies. She can also be very manipulative, and she hasn’t always treated Nadia well.
Nadia and I have had numerous conversations about this friend over the years, and I have expressed my feelings about Kelly’s behavior. Sometimes Nadia would acknowledge Kelly’s wrongdoings; other times she’d get upset and insist I was wrong. Either way, she seemed to have great loyalty to Kelly.
Over the years, Kelly’s mother, “Brittany,” and I became friends and, over the last two or three, we have grown very close. I allowed it to happen because I thought Kelly had matured. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Meanwhile, Nadia has been seeing more clearly what a difficult person Kelly is and is pulling away from her.
While I’m happy Nadia has found healthier friendships, I am worried about how this may affect my friendship with Brittany. She tends to be defensive about her kids and will probably not be able to see how much her daughter has hurt Nadia over the years. Advice? — MOM PROBLEM IN MASSACHUSETTS
DEAR MOM: I do have some. STAY OUT OF IT. It’s common for childhood friendships to wane. By now you should have realized friendships cannot be forced. All it does is breed resentment. Unless Brittany raises the subject, avoid discussing it. Cross your fingers and hope that Kelly might not even realize Nadia is less available. However, if Brittany asks, simply say that the girls’ friendship, like other teen relationships, seems to have run its course.
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DEAR ABBY: My ex-husband has been incarcerated off and on for the last several years. The kids adore him and want nothing more than to spend time with him, even though I am the responsible parent who cares for them and provides for their needs.
I’m glad the kids are not angry with him, and I’m trying to be understanding about their need for love and acceptance from him (even though they are no longer young children). However, I can’t help feeling anxious, angry and jealous because, in spite of his many poor choices, they prefer spending time with him more than with me.
He has always been an irresponsible parent, and it crushes them each time he goes back to jail. No matter what, they run to his rescue whenever he needs something, be it money, transportation, etc. How can I handle this in the best way for the sake of my children without causing stress on them and our relationship? — STABLE PARENT IN CALIFORNIA
DEAR PARENT: Please accept my sympathy. You have been forced into the role of the authoritarian parent, while your husband has adopted the role of loosey-goosey fun parent, which is how your children still regard him. It isn’t fair, and I feel for you. But until they wise up on their own, there’s nothing you can do about it. So try not to spend too much time dwelling on it. Live your life. When faced with a circumstance that’s not likely to change soon, that’s all anyone can do.
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Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.