Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine advises a woman navigating her friends' divorce, and a mother whose daughter says her father sexually abused her
A few weeks back, my good friends told me they are getting divorced. Over the years they have been such close friends, spending holidays with us and always willing to help if we had a problem.
However, although they say the split is amicable, we are getting regular phone calls in which they seem to try to get us to take sides. We’ve managed to stay neutral so far, but it is becoming increasingly difficult as they clearly want to talk about what happened.
However friendly a separation is, there will always be an element of ill-feeling involved, and those affected will often want to talk with someone they trust about what went wrong. It's quite healthy.
If you want to keep them as friends, tell them so, but you need to make it clear immediately that neither you nor your husband will be taking sides.
If they say anything negative about their ex-partner, simply change the subject until they get the message.
My 16-year-old daughter recently told me her father sexually abused her. Although we haven’t seen him for four years, she hasn't told me before because she was embarrassed and frightened.
She seems remarkably calm about the whole thing and doesn’t what to discuss it with anyone else. I feel I should tell someone like the police but don’t want to go against her wishes. I can’t just do nothing.
She’ taken a big step already by telling you what happened. However, she’s clearly not ready to re-visit the experience through the police and I believe it would be a mistake to force her into this. However, she could benefit enormously if she was able to talk in confidence with a counsellor at Childline (childline.org.uk 0800 1111).
In the meantime, give her all the love and support she needs. And if you need to unburden some of this too, I suggest that you contact the advice and support helpline at the NSPCC (nspcc.org.uk).