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Dysfunctional Arguments Need Counseling

Dear Dr. Dave and Dr. Dee,

My friend and her daughter (who lives in her own place) often get into long arguments. It made me nervous to actually witness this one particular argument, so I tried to be helpful. The daughter was leaving, and I simply told her to not leave upset. My friend became angry at me and accused me of making her "the bad guy." I tried to explain that I just didn't want her daughter leaving upset, but she wouldn't listen.

Now I know that her daughter is not all to blame for their many instances of trouble and discord. I feel like she abused her daughter in my presence yelling and calling her daughter names.

My friend and I work in the same office, and I am concerned about our working relationship as well.

In addition, my friend keeps her house very very neat, like a showroom. Her fights with her daughter have been over the messes her daughter makes.

I think she needs help. What should I do as her friend?


Tried my best.

Dear Tried my best,

If your friend has had a long history of terrible arguments with her daughter (and others?), then there is obvious dysfunction in the family. Both could benefit from both joint and separate counseling. The hardest part is to make the person who needs the counseling, realize that she needs it.

You must value the friendship to feel like you need to do something. On the other hand, suggesting to your friend that she needs some counseling could cause a break in your friendship if she readily becomes upset over things. You could suggest to her, the next time you witness or she tells you about another argument, that maybe she and her daughter should get a third party to help mediate, such as a counselor. Or, if you know the daughter well, suggest it to her. If your friend views your suggestion as unwarranted and begins an argument with you, then maybe you need to rethink the friendship. If she values your friendship, she may then realize she needs help.