Family and Caregiver Schizophrenia Discussion Forum

Codependent friendship

I have mentioned before that my daughter’s best friend also deals with issues with her mental health. In some ways that is good because of the support they give each other. They can comfort each other.

But I have seen incidents where this is not a good thing. Sometimes their moods can affect the other. There are times when her friend’s mood can affect my daughter’s moods and vise verse. It’s like there is a codependent element to their friendship.

Lately my daughter’s friends seems to be heading in a direction that doesn’t seem healthy… it seems to be affected by the fact that her mother has been having some health issues.

We had her over for a sleepover with my daughter and she was talking about going to clown college in Albany and a side show workshop at Coney Island…

She seemed quite serious about this.

I kept thinking, “she wants to become a carny.” Was she serious? I have heard that the life of a carny is pretty rough. But I couldn’t say anything because she isn’t my daughter and it seems that her mother isn’t providing input on this because of her health.

My wife is concerned that Allie might want to go with her. Since my daughter doesn’t have specific plans for after graduation …
And because of the codependent element of their friendship.

Don’t get me wrong. We think the world of my daughter’s friend. I don’t think we would have known about the potential of my daughter’s MI if it hadn’t been for her friend.

Both girls are going on the senior trip to an amusement park.

The principal of the small Christian school my girls go to and my wife teaches at is aware of my daughter’s MI… and has been very understanding and supportive. He did say that he is more concerned about my daughter’s friend on the senior trip than he is for my daughter right now.

No she isn’t your child, but that does not mean you can’t have a conversation with her about her plans. Simply start by asking why this appeals to her. Ask her what research she has done on this dream.

We live in a world where we seem to be afraid of meaningful conversations with other peoples children for fear they will be offended. I figure if someone trusts me enough to have them in my company for a sleep over, they should expect I will talk to them about whatever comes up.

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Many of the large amusement parks are staffed by high school and college students who need summer jobs. I looked for the side show school at Coney Island, if I am looking at the right one - yeah, that’s not training for a summer job at a Six Flags type amusement park.

Yes, such relationships can be a bit double edged. One of the families I know has a person with bipolar who has a close friend with bipolar. Sometimes they are good support for each other - other times it’s quite the opposite. One gets manic and the other jumps on the manic train and they work toward more extreme behaviors when they are that way together.

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I am currently on phone, but i wanted to offer a quick response and I’ll try to come back later.

First, being aware of codependent tendencies in relationships is great. So many people don’t know to watch out, and even healthy relationships between healthy people can devolve quickly and dangerously. I’m glad you’re watching out and can read signs of danger. Maybe, if you are afraid of the reverse - psychology effects of confrontation, you can get your daughter a self-help style book about healthy relationships. You could use the guise of graduation, and talk to her about how she’s an adult and needs to think about keeping her all relationships safe and boundaries strong.

Second, I want to throw in a word FOR clown college. I know it sounds ridiculous! There’s almost no way to say “clown college” without feeling like it’s a joke. But … the minister at my church started at a clown college in New York too. He’s a hilarious, loving person, and if you talk to him, he’ll admit he uses his experience at clown college regularly. He learned about miming, acting, public speaking and performance. His first job after was with a circus. He obviously moved on to other jobs (He’s been our minister for almost 20 years, he’s got multiple higher ed degrees now, etc) but he attributes a lot of his success in jigs ministry to starting out, no joke, at Clown College.
Your daughter’s friend’s plan might sound silly, but it’s a pretty solid plan. And more than a lot of people her age have.

It’s not so much the clown college that sounds off…if she thinking of a type of clown ministry like you are describing that is fine… but the thought of her friend practicing thinks like knife swallowing, it kind of made me cringe.

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Perhaps you should make it clear to your daughter and her friend that just as some who wants to be a surgeon does not practice without schooling and training, neither should a knife swallower. It is an art and requires substantial training. Practicing now is simply not allowed.

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