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Ask Ellie: Wiser not to 'explain' neighbours' late-night visitors to kids

It could provoke gossip/false rumours among their friends, and spread to their parents and other neighbours

Dear Ellie: I’m a mom of 16-year-old twins, a boy and a girl. We live in a residential area. Our street is quiet but active, and we all know each other to say Hi.

There are a few rental houses, and families usually move in for several years. But the house across the road has recently been rented to two or three young guys, late- 20s/early-30s.

There’s a LOT of coming and going from their house, so I’m not sure exactly who lives there.

They’re not overly noisy, but there seems to be many different women coming and going in the middle of the night. I don’t sleep well, my room is at the front, so I see women leaving at 2 a.m., 3 a.m. etc.

My kids haven’t noticed this yet. What should I tell them when they do?

Protective Parent

1) They won’t notice unless you draw their attention to the new neighbours. So, don’t. Instead, walk across the road to welcome them.

You could then gently mention your awareness of their late-night visitors, because you’re a light sleeper.

2) OR, continue to say nothing, since there’s apparently just your curiosity waking you.

It’s wiser to not feel that you must always “explain” something to young people… especially when you have nothing concrete to tell them and would only be arousing teenage curiosity.

It could provoke gossip/false rumours among their friends, and spread to their parents and other neighbours.

Say nothing to anyone unless you have some real, verified information that’s truly worrisome.

Dear Ellie: My son’s divorced from his wife. They’re co-parenting their two children ages ten and eight.

My former daughter-in-law spends a lot of time with her parents during Christmas and summer holidays. The children enjoy these times with their grandparents.

However, my grandson tells me and his father about the hurtful things his grandfather says about his dad. It’s really upsetting my young grandson.

I consider these comments as emotional abuse of the eight-year-old. I’d like to talk to this man urging him to stop his abuse of my grandson. It is harming the boy.

Your advice, please.

Emotional Abuse of Child

There’s certainly an element of emotional abuse on the grandfather’s part, since the boy tells his father and you, his grandmother, about the negative comments he’s being told about his dad.

The co-parenting that’s provided for in a couple’s legal divorce, means both parents are to maintain the best interests of their mutual children as their guiding principle.

The person your grandson should be talking to about his discomfort with critiques of his father, is his mother. But she may be the reason her father’s maligning the boy’s dad.

Depending on your former mother-in-law relationship, you might consider having a gentle chat or calm email exchange with her, saying that your grandson is finding her father’s comments very hurtful.

Even if she overreacts, you should stay calm and simply say that no one benefits from these remarks. Indeed, the long-term effects could make the boy untrusting of all his relatives, especially a grandfather who’s supposed to be a loving, kind support in his life.

Feedback regarding pre-marital courses for people considering/planning to get married (Nov. 9):

Reader — “When my first husband and I married, I just assumed we’d start a family a year or so later. To my shock he informed me he didn’t want children. It was a deal breaker for me!!”

Reader’s commentary regarding the boyfriend complaining his world was disrupted by inviting his “bossy” girlfriend to move in (Nov. 13):

“This guy’s missing the empathy gene in not realizing how much her world’s been disrupted. Perhaps if he understood what a true partnership means he wouldn’t have forced her behaviour.

“He didn’t understand that men often create a male-centric living environment that might require adjustment to accommodate some women.

“I know about this, having met a wonderful woman and sold my home to jointly buy something together.

“She got more closet space as she had more clothes. I tried to accommodate her as best I could because all these factors were small potatoes.

“This guy’s simply not “all in.”

“I do fault the girlfriend for not having more conversation toward shared points of view. One must always take care of themselves in a rational manner to avoid conflict. The one smart thing she did was to not sell her place.”

Ellie’s tip of the day

Don’t spread curiosity concerns that could spark gossip about new neighbours, to your children nor to others, without proven and worrisome facts.

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