I am a Standard Six student and I want to help my friend, J. J is a very kind person but sometimes he is too kind. There is this girl named V who always asks J for money.

She started doing this when we were in Standard Three. J would always lend her the money but V doesn’t always pay him back, only sometimes. And even when she returns the money she doesn’t return the full amount.

Not only that, she forces J to help her finish her tuition homework and always asks him to let him copy his homework.
I only realised this when we were in Standard Five, and since then my friend Vin and I have been trying to help J.

We asked him to stop being lending V money so many times. He would always agree but in the end he will still give V money, let her copy his homework, and help her finish her work because she apparently “forced him to”.

But I think J wasn’t forced at all. Sometimes, he would tell me to just let V get away with things because she was his friend. I do not think V thinks the same way at all.

In August last year, Vin told the teacher about what was happening, and V was scolded and even caned by the teacher. V cried that day, but after a few weeks she started all over again and J still does the same things for her.

V is still making use of J. When Vin and I told her to stop, she scolded us for “being nosy”. J lends her money almost everyday now. When we tell her that we’d inform the teacher, she cries and asks us not to, saying that she will return all of J’s money after UPSR.

How can we stop V from having these bad habits? I doubt she would keep her promise as she is known to break most of them. I want to help J and I think if I can help him, I can help Vivian too. — Trying To Help

Su Ann

As you have correctly identified, helping your friend J necessarily means helping V as well.

Whatever reason J gives V money and allows her to copy his homework, it seems that it is not in his nature to consistently say no to her or perhaps anyone who needs help, even if he realises he is not helping her in the long run.
Punishment from teachers only temporarily solves the problem and does not quite get to the root of the issue.

V is the one who needs to be spoken to, and in doing so, her needs and dilemmas should be addressed as well. Why does she need money on a daily basis and what exactly does she do with J’s money? Can she get money from anyone else? Why can’t she complete her homework without J’s help?

These questions would be a good starting point for you, Vin and J to try and understand where V is coming from and if there are any potentially serious problems that she is facing.

Once you have the answers, decide if this matter can be handled by the three of you or if teachers need to be brought into the picture again. Money may not be the core issue at all, and perhaps V used J in that manner as a means to some other goal that is currently unknown to J or yourself.

If money is indeed the core issue and V is in serious financial need without any other dependable source of money, then this matter is beyond what J’s pool of money and homework can do for her.

In such a scenario, always be sure that you make any moves hand in hand with V and that you do not leave her out of any decisions, especially if these decisions involve parents or teachers.

The solution at large is not to alienate V, but to thoroughly understand her position and to help her to help herself.


It’s difficult to get J to do the right thing if he doesn’t realise that what he is doing is wrong. It looks like giving away money and doing V’s homework isn’t much of a big deal for him. You’ve tried convincing him to change his ways but the only way he will is if his current behaviour hurts him – for example, if he has no money for his basic expenses or if he spends so much time on V’s homework that his own results starts slipping badly.

You may need to let this happen first and be there for him when it gets bad, before things can get better.
It’s a tough situation for you to be in because it’s difficult to teach someone to have a backbone and learn how to say “no”.

Get him to first realise that she’s draining him and that he has to refuse. Then he must take that first step and tell her no. It will be daunting for J, but after he takes that first step it’s all about making it consistent when V makes repeated requests.

If he’s not listening, then the best you can do is be there for him. I’m sure there will be times when he grows tired of V. That’s when you should comfort him and also tell him the truth – that he’s giving a lot to someone who doesn’t reciprocate, and that real friends don’t behave that way.

Your friendship could be tested because of J’s stubbornness to change, but have the stamina to keep caring and advising him. People develop on their own time, and J will need good people around him for support.

Try talking to V. Even if you feel she isn’t worth your time, perhaps a heart-to-heart talk will wake her up. Reason with her by asking what she doesn’t realise – what if she’s treated the same way?

People like V are very draining, and in time it will be too much. If she doesn’t change, then J will. It’s up to you and his friends to support and guide him through a lesson that can’t be easily taught, and one he must learn on his own.

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