DEAR ABBY: We have owned our house for 31 years and raised our kids here. They are grown now and have moved out. Several families across the street have come and gone.
The most recent owners have two kids, one in kindergarten and another in first grade. Every morning before school, the mom lets her kids run wild, screaming, yelling, riding their bikes and scooters unsupervised in the street from 7:45 to 8:30 a.m. My husband is retired and hears this every morning. He has a back injury and two hip replacements, so he doesn’t sleep well and isn’t an early riser.
Today, he finally went over and asked her not to let them do this every morning. She, of course, became defensive and said she likes to let them play before school and thought 8 a.m. wasn’t unreasonable. Not only are the kids loud, but cars often race up the road and it’s dangerous. We were always out there watching our kids on this road, especially when they were that age.
Are we a couple of old fogies, or do you agree she is an irresponsible parent? – Upset in Washington
DEAR UPSET: Playtime at 8 a.m. may not seem unreasonable, but it is to someone who has health and sleep problems. However, your neighbor has a right to let her children out to play before school. I wouldn’t call you a couple of old fogies, but I would point out that after people reach a certain age, their needs can change. Try earplugs or double-paned bedroom windows. But if that doesn’t help, it may be time to consider moving to a community for people over 55.
DEAR ABBY: My husband and I have been married for five years. He’s always been a jokester, which is OK, except for the way he does it. He knows what pushes my buttons, so his jokes are geared toward that. At first, I ignore it, but when he persists, I get mad. Then he accuses me of overreacting and calls me unreasonable for getting mad because he’s “only joking.”
If a husband knows what pushes your buttons and makes you yell at him (which I never did before I met him), isn’t that playing with your emotions for his own entertainment? I’m not the only one he does this to. His daughter has been on the receiving end many times. He claims she’s being unreasonable, too. I have asked him to stop, but he doesn’t. It’s affecting our relationship. I almost feel like he’s gaslighting me. What say you, Abby? – Pushing My Buttons
DEAR PUSHING: I say you are absolutely right. Your husband’s behavior is emotionally abusive, not funny. It would be interesting to know how years of that kind of treatment have affected his daughter. The effects of a parent’s ridicule can remain with a child into adulthood.
Because you haven’t been able to get through to him, perhaps you should enlist the assistance of a licensed marriage counselor. If he refuses to go with you, you should go by yourself. And if nothing changes, ask yourself if this is how you are prepared to spend the rest of your life.
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.