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Ask Ellie: Don't let friend's anxiety affect relationship

Dear Lisi: My best friend and I met in middle school. We grew up with the same socioeconomic background. After university, I travelled to Europe; she took courses in the States.

She met a great guy and their relationship took hold. I went to see her before returning home. She wanted me to meet her man. I liked him immediately; he’s kind, warm and easy-going.

It’s 20 years later; we’re both still married and have a few kids. She never returned from the States. We talk and try to see each other often. We’re still very close.

The problem is that she’s always stressed out about something. Most of it is normal life stuff – but not for her. Why? Because her husband comes from an extremely wealthy family.

They have multiple vacation homes, private planes and literally want for nothing. My husband and I don’t have that lifestyle. We scrimp and save for our children. We forego lots because we simply can’t afford it. We do our best, and we’re OK.

But I find it very difficult to listen to her stress over problems that can be solved quickly with her means. How do I continue to support her without getting annoyed?

Friends with benefits

Your friendship is what matters. Flip the mirror. Look at the situation from her perspective. She grew up like you, so when an issue arises, her first response isn’t naturally to throw a credit card at it. Her thought process is to try and understand the problem and how it affects her people. Not just from a financial viewpoint.

You struggle financially, and imagine how easy it would be to solve many of your issues if you had the means. So, you’re projecting that on to her.

She just wants to be a normal friend, as you’ve been since you were kids. She sounds more thoughtful about her bank account by not throwing it in your face. Give her a break.

FEEDBACK Regarding the mom trying to walk her baby to sleep (Oct. 25):

Reader – “As a speech-language pathologist, I am compelled to offer a very different perspective. Young children are hard-wired to develop language and communication skills. They do not wake up one day to become fully developed communicators. Having a variety of communication partners is an important part of children’s development, even if it is just to make eye contact, or to wave or say hi to strangers.

“Each interaction reinforces new skill development. The ability to practice newly acquired skills, whether it is trying out new sounds, new vocabulary, new ways to put words together or to begin sharing thoughts is critical. Equally important is the development of social communication including making eye contact and using greetings.

“Rather than bemoan this child’s need to socialize, it may be helpful for this mother to reframe her annoyance as a time to celebrate and embrace the amazing skills her child is developing. Sadly, there are many children for whom language and communication skills do not come easily. Listening to music or a podcast while your baby is sleeping is a great way to spend me-time, but disengaging and missing opportunities to develop communication skills is a crying shame.

“No wonder so many strangers seek to engage with this child — I can proudly say I am one of those people. It takes a village to raise a child.”

Lisi – Thank you for your amazing perspective. I’m also one of those strangers who loves talking to a baby or toddler in a stroller. But I also understand the plight of a mom of a sleep-deprived baby or toddler.

My focus was on helping her get her baby to sleep. Yes, a happy wakeful baby who engages with others will learn and grow in various ways, including speech.

FEEDBACK Regarding the person whose rescue dog doesn’t like them (Oct. 26):

Reader – “Try letting someone else groom and bathe this dog. A lot of dogs absolutely hate being groomed or even bathed, and will hold grudges towards anyone that subjects them to such indignities. I know this may be expensive compared to DIY, but it may well make a big difference. At least it’s worth trying for a while.”

Reader No. 2 – “Maybe also try treats, or new treats and a new toy. These would be associated with only the letter writer.”

Reader No. 3 – “My sister was in the same situation. The dog loved her husband but snarled at her. One day she was cold and put on his sweater. The dog gave her snuggles. For a while, she wore something of his while becoming closer with the dog. She no longer needs his smell as the bridge and the dog adores her.”

Ellie Tesher and Lisi Tesher are advice columnists for the Star and based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email:

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