Counseling/Son with guilt


Our son has a long history with depression, but at 32, finally managed to get through college with honors (bachelors).  He had a relationship with a girl his age, early 30s, and then the relationship became one of friendship as he was going away back to school.   She has become ill with a serious cancer, and is now depending on him for emotional support as she is not comfortable with her family, even though she has to live at home right now.   He feels trapped and guilt ridden now as he has just accepted a entry level job in his field and she has a surgery scheduled that she has asked him to be there with her for, as she is not friendly with her family, and when he told her he would not be able to be there the whole time, she was furious.  I could hear her screaming on the phone that he had abandoned her, he hates her, she called him names, said he put a "stupid" job over their friendship and then hung up repeatedly and called back often.  He is crazed with guilt and I am trying to reassure that he is doing the right thing.   He has me confused.  What do you think?   HIs offering to help her but in a more limited way due to the fact he has to work? Or should he refuse the job and take care of her( not what I recomend at all!)  He knows in his heart she is being irrational, but is really feeling bad. I is a complicated situation; i feel for this girl terribly, but she needs other means of support in addition.  I have been  financially supporting him, and did so gladly as he was an excellent student and finished the degree nicely, but can't keep that up, it is not good for him or me.      Thanks for any thoughts

Dear Nadine,

Healthy boundaries are a good thing. Anyone who expects someone else to quit a job to take care of them, to the detriment of their own well-being, is unreasonable. Your son has a right to support himself and live his life in a way that makes him happy.

His friend is his FRIEND. What he does for her is a gift, not an obligation. She is wrong to impose burdens on him.

You son needs to feel like a man. Part of that is being self-sufficient. It's time for him to stop relying on you and care for his own needs. He has no obligation or duty to a friend. Any friend who imposes that is not a friend at all. This is not a healthy, reciprocal relationship. If they can't have a mutually beneficial relationship, it should probably end.


Laura Giles


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Laura Giles, MSW


I can answer questions about sexual assault, sex offending, domestic violence, substance abuse, acudetox, hypnosis, biofeedback, neurofeedback, ADHD, relationship issues, and run of the mill mental health questions.


Extensive inpatient, outpatient and criminal justice experience.

BS counseling, MSW social work

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