DEAR ABBY: I have a dear friend I look up to like an older sister. We enjoy visiting with her and her family, as well as vacationing with them. We sometimes camp out together, too.
The problem: She and her husband discipline our children right in front of us! I refuse to see our children humiliated, and when I try to defend them, it starts an argument among all of us. Now our children hesitate to do anything around them for fear of being disciplined.
Abby, my husband and I would never dream of disciplining another's child. We believe that parents should discipline their own children. How do we resolve this problem without alienating our friends? We don't want to sacrifice the friendship. -- MOTHER ON THE DEFENSIVE
DEAR MOTHER: Make it plain to your friends that should your children need discipline, you and your husband will administer it. If that doesn't solve the problem, then the only alternative is to curtail your visits with these friends. It's unfortunate, but your children's welfare must take first priority.
DEAR ABBY: My husband, "Nick," can't understand why our 10-year-old son, "Tony," is "hard of hearing" when he talks to him. Maybe it's because Nick talks so loud that our son tunes him out.
I suggested that Nick ask Tony why he doesn't listen to him, but Nick gets mad at me and insists that he MUST talk loud to get through to Tony.
Abby, our son is not hard of hearing, and I think Tony doesn't follow instructions because of the way his father talks to him. I also think the one who really isn't "listening" is my husband.
Any advice? -- TONY'S MOM
DEAR TONY'S MOM: There's a power struggle going on, and your husband thinks he can win it by shouting. Family counseling could help him gain some insight and communicate more effectively with Tony. If your husband refuses, I recommend earplugs for you until Tony leaves for college.
DEAR ABBY: You missed the boat in your response to "Furious in Spanish Port, Ala.," whose husband expected her to entertain his long-estranged father while he attended a social event.
You said, "It is important to your husband, so try to be gracious."
Abby, if Dad were so important to "Furious'" hubby, wouldn't you think hubby would decline the social event and tend to Dad himself? Even an important business-related social event can be declined or cut short due to a visit from a father one has only seen three times in the past 45 years. -- ALISON IN PIEDMONT, CALIF.
DEAR ALISON: I was not prepared for the amount of criticism I received for my response to "Furious," so I will try to explain it. Many couples have emotional "issues" regarding their parents because of the way they were (or weren't) raised, and if possible it's better to resolve them while the parents are still living. Her husband asked her to suspend her anger and judgmental attitude and help him out. As a loving wife and helpmate, if it's possible for her to do so, I think she should.
I am not saying the long-absent father should be allowed to move in or take liberties. I'm saying only that she should be as charming as possible and give the man a fair hearing until her husband arrives.
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