DEAR ABBY: The media give us stories of racial conflict and the shooting of police officers almost daily, and every reporter and news anchor proposes solutions. As a Hispanic police officer in a small city, I have an observation.
I was having lunch the other day with two other officers. Sitting across from us was a young mom whose child was throwing a temper tantrum. I overheard her say, “If you don’t behave, I’m going to give you to those police officers and let them beat you!”
Abby, my parents taught me the police were my friends – people I could go to if I had a problem. We work hard to interact with the community. I wonder how many other tired and frustrated parents have made their children afraid of the police and created distrust. Like so many other “social problems,” maybe a lot of this really starts with how parents teach their children. – Police Officer and Friend
DEAR POLICE OFFICER: It is the parents’ responsibility to discipline their children; it is not the job of the police! It is a huge mistake for parents to instill fear of authority figures in their children, because a day may come when the kid needs help from one of them.
And by the way, this doesn’t happen only with law enforcement officers. I have heard of children who are terrified of doctors because their mothers threatened them by saying if they misbehaved, “the doctor would give them a shot.” To say these are prime examples of poor parenting is putting it mildly.
DEAR ABBY: I have lived next door to my late husband “Jack’s” 86-year-old mother for the last 26 years. Jack died seven years ago.
Recently, she asked for my help changing an overhead light bulb. When she thanked me, I responded, “That’s what family is for!” She looked at me with a puzzled expression and finally said, “Hmm ... I guess we are family, in a way.”
I replied: “Your son and I were married 25 years. You’re the grandmother of our children. I’m pretty sure that makes us family.” She then informed me she had stopped being my mother-in-law when Jack died.
I always thought she would remain my mother-in-law until I remarried, if ever. Abby, I confess, I was not only floored by her remark, but also hurt. She used to always tell me I was the daughter she’d always wanted, but since Jack passed away, it has been painfully obvious it was never true.
So who is right? Is she still my mother-in-law? Or is she now my “ex”? – Unwanted “Daughter”
DEAR UNWANTED: Jack’s mother appears to suffer from foot-in-mouth disease. From your description of what happened, I don’t think she meant to appear rejecting. I think she may have been genuinely puzzled because she thought her in-law relationship with you ended with her son’s death. I am sure she was sincere when she said she loves you like the daughter she never had. Revisit this with her and tell her how it made you feel. You both need to clear the air.