DEAR ABBY: Eight months ago, I moved in with my aunt and her son, my cousin "Billy." Billy's parents divorced several years ago, and his dad abruptly cut off all communication with Billy and his older brother. This hurt both boys very much.
Billy is now 22 and harbors great anger toward his father. It is understandable. But Billy takes his anger out on his mother and me. He pushes us away and has withdrawn from all family members and friends.
I try to give Billy his space. Although I would like to help him, I'm afraid that trying to talk to him -- even to offer support -- will make him feel even more vulnerable and defensive. He's not comfortable talking about his feelings. He reacts emotionally and plays the blame game.
I'm worried about my once kind and easygoing cousin, and about whether he can pull himself together and get on with his life.
How can I talk to Billy without escalating his anger? I want so badly to help. -- T.C. IN STATEN ISLAND, N.Y.
DEAR T.C.: Billy needs more help than you are equipped to give him. While his anger at his father is understandable, the blame game solves nothing, and he's focusing his anger on the wrong people. Isolating himself from family and friends is a clue that Billy has more problems than he's revealing to you. Tell him you love him and that you care -- and urge him to get professional counseling.