My friend’s mom is worried…

She says he isn’t acting normal but asked me to keep it to myself. What should I do? 

Keep your word, says our elder – but keep an eye on your friend, too.


Dear EWC

Hi, So I am in a situation that I have not been placed in before. My best friend’s mom just called me. She was crying and complained how my friend isn’t acting normal. He doesn’t sit with them, doesn’t eat with them, gets agitated over the most ridiculous of things, is fighting over small things with the mother concerned and his sisters. They are all worried. However, the mom told me to keep this between us and requested to do something about him. Now in college we are a group of four friends, including my best friend. Should I share this with the other guys in the group and try to solve this collectively and if I am to keep this exclusively to myself, how should I approach the situation without letting my friend know that his mother contacted me? He is usually very moody and gets angry over the smallest of things in college as well. He is intelligent and sometimes reasoning with him can be a pain in the ass. How do I deal with this whole scenario? Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

PJH replies

I understand your dilemma and I suspect a resolution may come soon. But first, keep your word to your friend’s mother. Second, keep a close eye on your friend’s behavior. It seems likely the situation will change fairly quickly, and your other friends will see they’re dealing with similar symptoms his family is facing and there’ll be no need to break the confidence you’ve agreed to. Deal with the problem using the behaviors you’ve observed, not the second-hand version you’ve heard about; though should his friends suggest calling to report what you’re all seeing you may find it’s an appropriate way to close the circle of care around your friend. Meanwhile, don’t ignore things that disturb you. Tell your friend you’re troubled by the changes you’re seeing. Let him know you’d like to help him, but don’t create bigger problems by getting into arguments.

Keep in mind your friend’s troubles may involve a turmoil in his life neither he or his mother have told you about. Don’t jump to conclusions, or read more than you see, but don’t ignore what’s in front of your face.

What’s missing from your letter is details about treatment available in your neighborhood. If your college has a counseling service, I urge you to visit and talk over the changes you’ve seen in your friend. A professional opinion will help you decide if this is a mental health crisis or a situational one, and have that inform what steps you can take to help him.

Let me compliment you on your determination to stay with this problem, and hope your cautious common sense will speed a solution.

Article #: 415016

Category: Family

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