I’m friends with the woman they despise

My child duped me, and it doesn't feel good

DEAR HARRIETTE: I get along well with a woman who has hurt a lot of my friends in the past.

Harriette ColeHarriette Cole 

Although it happened decades ago, my friends made a common enemy out of her and haven’t let it go since. I believe that it’s time for them to move on.

I have kept my friendship with this woman a secret to spare my friends’ feelings, but the longer I hide it, the worse it will be when they find out.

How do I tell my other friends that I am now friendly with the woman they all despise?

New Friend

DEAR NEW FRIEND: Have you talked to your new friend about her past? Why not start there?

Tell her that you care about her and you find yourself in a bind because of her history with your other close friends. Ask her to tell you her version of what happened between them years ago. Find out what she recalls and how she thinks about the situation today.

Be prepared to hear that she doesn’t recall the details. Sometimes people hold grudges about real incidents that occurred in the past, but the perpetrators are oblivious. That doesn’t mean the events didn’t occur, only that the memories are more significant for some than for others.

Get a sense from her of who she thinks she was back then and how she believes she has changed.

Next, talk to your friends. Admit that you have become friendly with this woman. Note that, as an adult, she has characteristics that you like. Point out how she behaves now and what you like about her. Apologize for not telling them sooner and point out that you didn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

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You do not need to try to get everyone to become friends as adults. This woman may end up being your friend only, and that’s fine, but it will be good for the secrecy to end.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I grew up poor. I knew even as a child that I would never want to raise my children in a poor household.

I’m now an adult with three children of my own, and I’m beyond thankful that I’m able to give my kids everything that I couldn’t have.

The problem is that because I have the means, I have no idea when to say no. My children get whatever they want, and it’s making them spoiled and bratty. How do I learn when to say no to my children?

Spoiled Kids

DEAR SPOILED KIDS: Take a step back and think about what you valued most as a child when you were growing up. Given that you had limited means, there was probably one special toy or item that you treasured.

Start talking to your children about what they have and how to value their possessions and their experiences. Give them chores to complete in order to receive further rewards. Set boundaries around what they can have and when.

They won’t like this at first, but it may help them appreciate what you give them.

Requiring your children to use an allowance to buy their own luxuries may help them to learn the value of money and see how quickly it disappears if they aren’t careful with it.

Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions [email protected] or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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