Boy’s bad behavior hobbles collective parenting effort

Published 8:21 am Tuesday, October 17, 2023

DEAR ABBY: My wife and I are raising our two daughters (6 and 7) alongside my sister and her son (10). My sister and her baby daddy separated before their child’s birth because he was physically and emotionally abusive. However, the law allows him to still be in the boy’s life. 

I love my sister and my nephew, which is why we are raising our families as a village. The problem is, we are seeing similar characteristics in my nephew’s behavior toward our daughters. He’s manipulative and a little “overly familiar” toward my eldest daughter. She looks up to him, and he uses it to get her to do what he wants. 

Now my 7-year-old is emotionally abusing and ostracizing my 6-year-old. I’m torn because my gut tells me to move and get my girls away from my nephew, but he, too, is a child, and I want to continue to support him so he can grow into a decent man. However, I am not willing to sacrifice my girls for his potential. What to do? — CAUTIOUS MOM/AUNTIE

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DEAR MOM/AUNTIE: Your children must come before your sister’s son. Because your older daughter is now modeling her cousin’s misbehavior and acting out against her little sister, it’s time to discourage that behavior and limit, if not sever, the contact she has with her cousin before it creates lasting damage. You cannot save everyone. It is your duty to protect your daughters from any negative influence.

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DEAR ABBY: My son and his wife are renting a property from me and my husband at a very reasonable rate in today’s not-so-reasonable world. We recently found out they got a cat, even though the lease they signed clearly states no pets are allowed. 

My son said we are taking this personally instead of approaching this as landlords. How can we NOT take this personally? He and his new wife have broken our trust. The ironic thing is, if we approached this only as landlords, we would evict them immediately. 

What can we say to get them to understand how hurt we are without ruining the relationship? They are expecting a baby soon. We have already gotten the “sorry, not sorry” text. This is tearing us up as parents. — RULES ARE RULES IN PENNSYLVANIA

DEAR RULES: Tell your son you feel disrespected because he adopted a cat without clearing it with you. Although he may have said he wants you to act like the landlord you are, as a tenant, he is in violation of the terms of the lease he signed.

Whether or not you decide to give him and his wife an exception for their cat and allow them to keep the animal, PLEASE refer him to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (CDC.gov). Precautions must be taken by pregnant cat owners in order to avoid contracting toxoplasmosis, a parasitic infection, which can be passed to a fetus during pregnancy. 

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Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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