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I have a friend (mid-40's, male) who was diagnosed with OCD about 14 years ago but who has suffered much longer than that (likely started directly affecting his life between ages 9 and 11 based on key moments from childhood).

He's a single father to three girls, ages 12, 16, and 18, and he's not doing well. In January 2019 I looked after his children when he spiraled out while overseas visiting his family. In the year and a half since then, there have been a number of periods when things have gotten pretty bad again, but right now things may be at the worst I've ever seen (having known the family 5 years). The oldest and youngest daughters are really struggling to maintain any kind of relationship with him right now due to some bad decisions he is making to both avoid the increased time he is spending on compulsions. The middle daughter seems to be completely unaware, happily on-line shopping to replace everything he throws away.

Just this week, because of his questionable decisions (suddenly dating a stranger he met on-line, spending 7 or more hours in her company and planning a weekend away with her while being in a city with a Covid uptick) and his youngest daughter's resulting devastation has led to him asking if she can live with me for 3 - 4 weeks or so until she's ready to listen to his reasons for why she should be okay with his decisions. While she and I are close - like an aunt and niece - this would mean her living away from her own home and family, even for her 13th birthday.

His family and their deceased mother's family all support her staying with me. I am concerned because it's really only a band-aid solution at best, and nothing will be resolved because of it. She is, thank goodness, working with a counselor (it took me over a year to convince her to do so), and I'm joining as many support groups as I can, but until he spirals out completely or asks for help, I don't know what to do. He did something similar in January and last year - it is, unfortunately, a pattern.

He had been making progress after I managed to help set him up with a psychologist who specialises in OCD, as well as a support group, but one of his worst triggers set off this latest spiral and it's devastating to watch.

Should I be trying to encourage the almost 13-year-old to communicate with her father when all he wants to do is explain how he will compromise (as in dating a little less, which doesn't actually reduce the covid risk) and what she wants is for him to acknowledge that he is almost incapable of functioning anymore, or do I just let her stay with me and try to bring some normalcy to her days?

Any suggestions are greatly appreciated.

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Hi Electra,

this sounds like a really tough situation and they are all very lucky to have your friendship and support. I don't really think there is a right answer here, although it seems to me that a 13 year old shouldn't be the one to have this conversation with him. Do you think he'd be willing to speak with her counselor, who may be able to help navigate this conversation, or for another member of the family to speak to him?

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