DEAR HARRIETTE: One of my best friends is battling an eating disorder. I have thought this for years, but I never knew quite what to say. She recently told me she went away to a rehab place to try to learn how to eat properly. She went and did everything she was told, but she hasn’t gained weight. I am so worried about her. She is kind of tall and probably weighs less than 100 pounds. How can I be a friend to her during this period when she is trying to face her demons? -- Supporting a Friend, Las Vegas
DEAR SUPPORTING A FRIEND: According to the National Eating Disorders organization, it can be tough for a friend or family member to have an impact on a loved one who is suffering an eating disorder. What you can do is be honest and firm about what you are observing about the person and how you feel about it. People who are battling eating disorders have an illness, and they need professional help.
Tell your friend you love her, but she must go to a doctor for the medical and emotional support that can get her healthy again. Encourage that. Take care of yourself as well. Do not get so caught up in your friend’s ups and downs that you forget yourself. Be an example of good health by eating in moderation and exercising regularly. For more ideas, go to bit.ly/HCEatingDisorders.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am friendly with a group of women, and we all have teenage children. We represent many backgrounds, and our friendships have been rewarding for years. Now, as our children become interested in dating, things are beginning to change. There are fewer “play dates” between our children now that there is a chance they might actually date each other. I get that most of us would like for our children to date people who share their ethnic background or their socioeconomic reality, but we all are in the same school. We chose to be there. I hate that suddenly my black child is not as accepted on the dating scene in this largely white environment. How can I help my daughter manage what now feels like rejection? -- No Longer Welcome, Cambridge, Massachusetts
DEAR NO LONGER WELCOME: Naivete says our culture should have advanced beyond such polarization in 2017. Many people do believe that our children should be able to love whomever they like and create a family accordingly, regardless of race, religion, economic background or anything else. And yet many people, deep down inside, prefer that their children marry within a certain community. This is also true among many African-Americans.
What can you do about it? Expose your daughter to a broader group of young people, including people who share her background. Do not just rely on school friends as potential dating partners, especially when you see the friction that seems to be growing among her peers. Reinforce in your daughter that she is beautiful and worthy of a partner who will love and cherish her for who she is. When others shun her, remind her that she deserves to be treated with respect. Those who do not offer that do not deserve her time.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)