DEAR HARRIETTE: My friend got into a huge fight with her parents and wants to stay with me in my apartment for a while. My roommate is fine with it, but I'm confused about what to do, since I've never been in this situation. The fight didn't sound that awful to me, but she was very upset. Should I let her stay with me, or should I encourage her to figure things out with her parents? -- In the Middle, Syracuse, New York
DEAR IN THE MIDDLE: You have not said your ages, so I am going to assume that your friend is not a minor. If she is a minor, you must tell her parents where she is, or you could be considered a kidnapper, even if you are trying to help.
Since you are able to allow your friend to stay at your home, do so. Give her a clear timeline by which she has to leave -- a day to a week. While she is at your place, get her to open up. Find out what's going on, as it relates to the argument and also any other details about her relationship with her family. Do your best to learn what is beneath the tremendous emotion and turmoil that would lead to your friend wanting to run away.
Let her know that you care about her and want her to be happy. Make it clear that you have no intention of taking sides as it relates to her family business. Urge her to go home and straighten things out, even if she ultimately intends to move out. Clearing the air with her parents should be her goal.