Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Reader Might Be Able to Help Friend's Son in Jail

DEAR HARRIETTE: I just found out that one of my good friends has a son who is in jail. I was wondering where he was, as he has not come to any of the gatherings that we typically have throughout the year. Now I know that he didn’t come because he has been in jail for several weeks. His mother did not tell me; another friend did.

I want to support my friend, and I might even be able to help. My husband is a defense attorney, and he would be happy to do whatever he can. That said, I don’t want to intrude. Obviously, this is sensitive, but given that we might be able to help, do you think it’s worth it for me bring it up to her? -- Helping My Friend, Milwaukee

DEAR HELPING MY FRIEND: Schedule a time to get together with your friend. Ask for permission to have a candid conversation. Let her know that you were recently told that her son is in jail. Point out that you are not trying to get in her business, but you want her to know that you would be happy to help if she needs support. Remind her that your husband is a defense attorney. Ask her if she needs legal support. Find out if there is anything you can do to help her. Assure her that you have no intention of gossiping about her family crisis. You only want to help. Listen to what she requests of you, including if she asks simply that you do nothing.

Read more in: Etiquette & Ethics | Health & Safety | Friends & Neighbors