DEAR HARRIETTE: I’m about to turn 14, so I’m in my prime teenage years. I have an older brother and a younger brother. My mom died when I was 4, so it’s always just been my dad, my brothers and me. Now that I’m in high school and getting older, I’m going through things that I can’t or don’t want to talk to my dad about. I don’t know who else to talk to. My whole life has always been dominated by men, which was never an issue before now. I want to talk about girl things with an adult, but I don’t know who to turn to. -- Struggling Teen, New Orleans
DEAR STRUGGLING TEEN: It makes sense for you to want female wisdom at this time in your life. Think about your extended family. Do you have any aunts or female cousins who could be a trusting confidante? What about neighbors or members of your church or house of fellowship? You want to find someone who shares your values, so these are safe places to look. Beyond these places, look to your guidance counselor at school. Ask for a referral. Often, schools have mental health professionals who may be able to offer a confidential and comforting ear. You may want to join the Boys and Girls Club in your neighborhood or another community organization that focuses on teen girls. Do some research, but you can definitely find someone who can serve the role that is missing in your life.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I’ve been best friends with “Clare” since I was in pre-K. Our moms are best friends, so naturally we are best friends. We’ve always done everything together, but things are starting to change. Ever since we entered high school, Clare has changed. She started getting major attention from guys and started hanging out with a different crowd. I don’t like the people she hangs around with.
Recently, Clare has started to dabble in drinking and drugs. I know she’s only doing it to fit in and seem cool, but it’s so not her. It upsets me to see her get like this because our relationship has started to drift. I tried telling her, but she brushes me off because she thinks she’s cooler than me. She’s truly a different person. Do I stop reaching out to her? -- Lost BFF, Cambridge, Massachusetts
DEAR LOST BFF: Now is a time for you to take on a role that may seem uncool but could save your friend’s life: You need to tell your mother what’s going on with Clare. Tell her you want to confide in her because you aren’t sure what to do. Be specific with what you know that Clare is doing. Have you seen her drinking or using drugs? Has she confessed this behavior to you? Only share what you know to be true. This should include that Clare no longer listens to you or includes you in her social life, so you don’t believe you can reach her. Ask your mother to talk to her mother about this. Know that this could cost you your friendship, at least temporarily. But the loss could save Clare’s life.
(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.)