DEAR HARRIETTE: My friend and her mother have an extremely tumultuous relationship. One day, the mom will tell her daughter that having her was her biggest regret, other days they are each other’s BFFs. The ups and downs in their relationship certainly appear hurtful and confusing, and being a confidante in this situation has proven to be harder than I anticipated. After listening to my friend, I can lament her mother’s parenting style on their bad days, but on their good days, it’s as if the prior day’s abuse is erased. I know they typically do not apologize to each other and just wake up and flip a switch. Their relationship is not stable, and I simply never know what to say. It’s hard to understand the mom saying the most horrible things one day and then becoming the “best mom ever” with frozen yogurt and manicures. What should my advice be to my friend when she brings up their rocky relationship? I am going away to college and am not sure how to be a support to her from a distance. – Mother-Daughter Duel, Little Rock, Arkansas

DEAR MOTHERDAUGHTER

DUEL: Resist the urge to give advice. You should not try for one second to interpret, get in the middle of or otherwise comment on your friend’s relationship with her mother. Count your blessings that you come from a more stable environment. While you should tell your friend that you can’t help her with her situation with her mother, let her know how much you love and support her. Be as consistent as you can in your friendship, even from a distance. Continue to email or text her as you normally do. But remember that you have to live your life. Naturally, friendships change course sometimes when friends transition into new experiences. Don’t forget your friend, but don’t be absorbed by her troubles, either.

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DEAR HARRIETTE: With an empty nest and a new relationship, I am thinking of moving to a different town. My children are not completely independent and are still in college, but I want to move out of their hometown and closer to my boyfriend. I do not have plans to give them a room in my new apartment, and I was thinking more along the lines of a foldout couch or guest bedroom. I do not want my kids to feel as though they do not have a home, but I want to move forward with my life. Do I have to ask for their approval to leave their hometown and move into my own place? – Flying Forward, Cincinnati

DEAR FLYING FORWARD: You are the parent. No, you do not need your children’s permission to take action; however, it will be hard on them if they feel that their mother has abandoned them. Tell them your intention. Explain the plan for the setup of your new home. Make sure they know they will be welcome, although you do not expect them to move back home. Have a plan for school breaks in terms of where they will sleep, etc. You can do this by being proactive and thoughtful.

— Lifestylist and author Harriette Cole is president and creative director of Harriette Cole Media. You can send questions to [email protected] or c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.