Dear Auntie, How can I help my friend, who is feeling helpless? Her parents are going through a divorce.
I appreciate you looking after your friend and searching for ways you can help. She’s lucky to have someone who cares as much as you do.
You can start by letting your friend know you care and want to make sure she’s doing okay. Tell her you are there for her if she ever wants to talk.
Divorce can be one of the most difficult transitions a family can go through and can be especially tough for families who are a part of such tight-knit communities like Native communities.
Here are some things that might be helpful for your friend. She can:
- Try to focus on the positive things. With her parents divorce is she getting to spend more time with her relatives like her grandparents, aunties/ uncles, cousins? Does she have siblings she can talk to? Is she able to spend more time with her mom and dad individually?
- It can be helpful to talk to people she trusts. Remind her you’re there if she needs to talk, but she can also reach out to your school counselor, tribal clinic, teacher, or elder.
- Talk to her parents. It may be hard for her to open up to her parents, but it might be a good idea for her to let her parents know how she is feeling. It’s a chance for her to share herself with them, as well as an opportunity for her to learn more about them. It can also help to make her parents more aware that as a family they are going through the divorce together. This might help them to make efforts to think about the family first.
- Get involved in activities that give her fuel and help feed her soul. This might be getting more involved with her tribe and tribal events. She can learn more through her tribal clinic, or if her school has a Native youth group. This could also mean doing some volunteer work like at the tribal senior center or becoming a reading buddy with the preschoolers or kindergarten classes. She can just check with the school.
- Get help. She can always check with the tribal clinic to talk to a mental health professional. They may also know of some group counseling in the area, or she can check with the nearest YMCA.
I hope this helps both you and your friend. Thanks for looking out for those you care about. I’m proud of you.