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by Abigail Van Buren

Neighbor Seeks to Quiet Neighbor Screaming at Her Grandchildren

DEAR ABBY: My neighbor is taking care of her grandchildren. She seems responsible and the courts have allowed her to be their foster mother. Her own children not only steal, but are also physically abusive. The court ordered the mother of the kids (my neighbor's daughter) to have no contact with them. Their father is in prison.

I am friendly with this neighbor and her grandchildren. I wish I had a way to tell her that her constant shouting and screaming at the kids is unhealthy. How can I help this family and these little ones? Should I just come out and say what's on my mind -- that yelling at them undermines their self-esteem and does no good whatsoever? -- KIND NEIGHBOR IN MICHIGAN

DEAR KIND NEIGHBOR: Have a chat with your neighbor about it, if you can manage it without coming across as judgmental (i.e., accusing her of "undermining their self-esteem"). When you do, tell her you know she is carrying a lot of responsibility on her shoulders and she may be yelling because she's stressed. Then offer to watch the grandchildren for her once or twice a month, so she can have some quiet time for herself. If you do, you would be doing her and her grandchildren a great favor.

Read more in: Friends & Neighbors | Family & Parenting