Dear Carolyn:

My younger son is having some physical and developmental problems, and I'm just not dealing well with it.

I can't stop worrying, and don't enjoy being with other parents and kids because all I see is what he's not able to do yet. I'm taking him to physical and educational therapy twice a week and I hate every minute of it.

I just can't get past that I don't want this (and I can't tell you how evil, selfish and horrible I feel to say that) and that it's not fair. How can I stop feeling bad for myself and start being positive, supportive and helpful to my son instead?

Anywhere

For one, you can see that no one "wants this," no one, not for a kid or for herself, and that it isn't fair. Stop punishing yourself for a completely normal reaction.

Is that just permission to pity yourself? Sure. But there's no self-pity cure quite like indulging it till you get sick of yourself and move on.

And if that doesn't work, look to your son for a cure. Watch him fight. Watch him learn. Watch him live as if he is no less -- or more, for that matter -- worthy of his place on Earth. He is who he is. There is no "what if." Follow his lead.

Follow your own lead, too, from other parts of your life. Do you live by comparison to others, or do you establish what works from within?

And when you're tormented by something, do you seek further torment, or comfort?

I'm guessing comfort. Translated, that means it's okay to pat your own back. You're frustrated that you have to do this, but you should be proud that you're doing it. Positive, supportive, helpful.

And it's okay to pull back (temporarily) from "other parents and kids" in favor of support from parents like you. Talk to your pediatrician and therapists about support groups, sites, networks for parents. Howl a bit with people who know how you feel.

Then log off or go home, and do what any frustrated parent of any frustrating kid -- i.e., all parents, of all kids -- has to do sometimes: Take note of the time you used to spend fretting and flogging yourself, and consciously dedicate it to seeing, really seeing, the cool little person he is.

Dear Carolyn:

I've recently developed romantic feelings for one of my best friends. She's in a relationship that's starting to become really serious, and she's very happy about it.

But she's never seriously considered me as a potential boyfriend because she's convinced I'll never see her as more than a friend. I truly want her to be happy.

I'd feel awful if I persuaded her to drop a good relationship only to find we just don't work as a couple. And I'd feel even worse if I damaged our friendship. Given all that, would it be stupid to let her know I'm an option?

New York

Depends. Are you an option because you're falling for her, or because you're panicked that she's falling for someone else and you're about to lose her as an option?

The former, she deserves to know. The latter, she deserves not to know. Any doubt? You stay lovingly butted (way) out.

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