Dear Amy: A dear friend’s wife was re­cently di­ag­nosed with stage four cancer. In the mid­dle of the aw­ful mess of it all — the surgery, chemo and all the health-re­lated

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Amy Dick­in­son Send ques­tions via e-mail to askamy@tri­bune.com or by mail to Ask Amy, Chicago Tri­bune, TT500, 435 N. Michi­gan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

un­knowns — my friend told me (and his cancer-bat­tling wife) that he was “hav­ing feel­ings” for me.

I felt it was in­cred­i­bly self­ish of him to add this to his wife’s bur­dens; he in­di­cated he felt he was do­ing the right thing by com­ing clean.

I am also mar­ried and have ab­so­lutely no in­ter­est in any­thing be­yond friend­ship with him and am still kind of an­gry with him about it.

I im­me­di­ately asked for some dis­tance. His wife then con­tacted me to ask if I have it in my heart to rec­on­cile with him, as he is dis­traught about ru­in­ing the friend­ship. My hus­band is also quite un­der­stand­ing of my friend’s sit­u­a­tion.

Mean­while, I feel un­com­fort­able about the whole thing and am hav­ing trou­ble fig­ur­ing out where to go from here with the friend. It seems im­pos­si­ble to go back to the friend­ship we had be­fore, which was quite spe­cial to me, and I don’t know where that leaves us. Plus, ob­vi­ously and crit­i­cally, the cancer! Any ad­vice? Where to go from here? — Dis­mayed

Dear Dis­mayed: Three things oc­cur to me: Your friend is dis­traught and pan­ick­ing about his wife and has en­gaged in some ma­jorly in­ap­pro­pri­ate trans­fer­ence by steal­ing the painful head­lin­ing drama and mak­ing it about him.

Or, your friend is sub­con­sciously fu­ri­ous at his wife for get­ting sick and is pun­ish­ing her. Or your friend has been har­bor­ing these feel­ings for a long time, and now that his wife’s ill­ness has re­minded him of how frag­ile life is, his in­hi­bi­tions have been stripped away.

What­ever his rea­son for do­ing this, you can as­sume that he is a wreck, and also that he be­lieves his feel­ings are real. You can also as­sume that these in­tense feel­ings of his will fade.

You should for­give him and try to rec­on­cile be­cause his wife has asked you to. He has been hon­est with you, and so you should be hon­est with him. Tell him you will make the ef­fort to re­main friends, even though his dec­la­ra­tion has com­pro­mised your friend­ship, as well as put both of your spouses in a ter­ri­ble po­si­tion.

Yes, your friend­ship may never be the same. But some­one you care about has messed up. You can gen­er­ously give him the op­por­tu­nity to clean up the mess he has made.

Dear Amy: There’s a sit­u­a­tion I have ob­served over quite a long time — I’m re­fer­ring to the evo­lu­tion of the part chil­dren play in their fam­i­lies. Granted, I am of re­tire­ment age and my view­point may well be skewed or even an­tique.

In my youth, kids helped around the house, mowed lawns, shov­eled snow, etc. These days, both par­ents work and they ap­pear to do all the work at home, too. Kids of ju­nior high and high school age seem to do noth­ing to help the fam­ily.

What is the parental think­ing here? Is this a univer­sal trend?

If you un­der­stand the dy­namic, please share your anal­y­sis. — Puz­zled

Dear Puz­zled: I agree with you that this is a trend, but I don’t think it’s nec­es­sar­ily a univer­sal one. Con­tem­po­rary par­ents do seem es­pe­cially de­voted to their kids’ suc­cess, but they define suc­cess dif­fer­ently than in pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions: through ex­celling at school, sports or in­ter­ests out­side the fam­ily.

One con­se­quence of parental over­com­pen­sa­tion is that there are older teens and col­lege stu­dents who don’t know how to get out of bed with­out help, can’t find re­al­world so­lu­tions to com­mon­place prob­lems, have few prac­ti­cal or house­hold skills and can’t man­age their own anx­i­ety when faced with op­por­tu­ni­ties to take chances — and pos­si­bly fail.

Par­ents can avoid hav­ing a mil­len­nial child bounce back home to play video games in their base­ment by start­ing in early child­hood, through giv­ing the child a real-world stake in the fam­ily’s suc­cess­ful func­tion­ing. This means giv­ing them jobs (both bor­ing and chal­leng­ing) to do, and ex­pect­ing them to pitch in when asked, while still un­der­stand­ing that the sky won’t fall if your child doesn’t par­tic­u­larly “like” you to­day. To­day’s Cryptoquip: I pre­sume movie di­rec­tor Preminger needed cov­er­age on his car and thus had Otto in­sur­ance.

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