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by Abigail Van Buren

Mom Is Blindsided by Friend's Criticism of Her Daughter

DEAR ABBY: I have a very close friend, "Sandy." Sandy and I talk about everything. She suffers from bi-polar disorder, which, for the most part, is controlled. However, she has hit a downswing.

A few months ago, she volunteered to start babysitting my child, one evening a week for a few hours. Sandy has never had the first complaint about my child or her behavior. Recently, she came over for a visit and unloaded on me. She said she finds my child annoying, that my child has a problem listening and constantly interrupts and complains. I was completely taken aback. Abby, I have never received complaints about my child's behavior, and over the course of the months, Sandy never indicated that something was wrong.

I have been a great friend to her, always welcoming her in my home and helping however I can. I don't know what to do. I am hurt and angry. I feel like she just barged in and insulted my kid. I'm no longer sure I want to remain close to her because of this. Is this characteristic of bi-polar disorder? How do I express my feelings to her without risking having her fly off the handle? Please help! -- HARSH WORDS IN THE SOUTH

DEAR HARSH WORDS: Not having met your child, I am not going to weigh in on whether what Sandy said was a slight. She may have been conveying something she thought you needed to know.

That said, because Sandy finds your child annoying, she should no longer babysit for you. All children interrupt at one point or another. They don't always behave perfectly. I hope you won't take what Sandy told you as an insult worthy of ending a longtime friendship over, particularly knowing the woman has mood swings and has been cycling down.

Read more in: Friends & Neighbors | Mental Health