DEAR HARRIETTE: My friends' parents have been going through a rough patch for about five years. This year, they decided to get a divorce. I found out about this a few months ago and have been there for them whenever they want to talk. However, they usually don't want to discuss what's going on and how they are feeling. Even though they don't want to talk about their family and the divorce, I have noticed that they always seem upset or sad. They were very close with their father, and now they barely see him. I want them to know that I am here if they ever need anything, but is there anything I can do until they come to me? -- In the Middle, Albany, New York
DEAR IN THE MIDDLE: What you can do is to be there for your friends as a friend. Rather than asking them about the divorce, focus on positive ways that you can influence their lives. Think of activities that you have enjoyed together over the years. Invite them to participate in those activities with you now. When you call them or text them, communicate something uplifting. You can tell stories or share funny anecdotes. You can just call to say, "I'm thinking about you."
The best thing you can do is to be a safe place for them to find consistent happiness. In this way, you may be able to draw them out to spend time with you, especially when things are tough. Avoid getting into their business. As much as you might be interested, you are not an expert on divorce or family dynamics. As a friend, remember to be a friend: a great listener with an open heart.