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by Abigail Van Buren

Unhappy Mom Is Harassed by Her Family of Pranksters

DEAR ABBY: I tend to react poorly when someone pulls a prank on me. My reaction is usually anger, hurt or embarrassment, and I end up saying or doing things I later regret because emotion took over.

My husband has always liked playing pranks, and my children have started to follow his lead. The pranks tend to be things like ice down the back of my shirt, bopping the end of a glass or bottle while drinking so it splashes in my face, snapping wet towels, etc. I don't like it, and I never do it to them. If I react, I am made out to be the "bad guy" because I "can't take a joke."

I feel guilty about the latest incident because when my l0-year-old daughter bopped a drink in my face, I slapped her across the face. When I apologized for responding that way, she said, "Dad does it all the time."

I never get an apology from the pranksters. Is this normal? Are there others out there who don't like being the object of pranks? How do I get my family to understand that being subjected to these "jokes" isn't funny to me? -- UNAMUSED IN INDIANA

DEAR UNAMUSED: Jokes at the expense of others can be funny, as long as everyone agrees that they're funny. Because you have told your husband you not only don't find his pranks amusing but find them hurtful, I can only conclude that his sense of humor is sadistic. Further, it has set a poor example for the children.

I wonder how your husband would feel if you informed him after a hard day that his accountant had called saying he owes $25,000 in back taxes. (Ho, ho!) Or if you poured a pitcher of ice water on him at 2 a.m. Would that be equally "funny"? I doubt it. Normally, I wouldn't stoop to that level, but this may be an exception.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Etiquette & Ethics