DEAR HARRIETTE: My next-door neighbors have a volatile relationship. I often hear them arguing late at night. Sometimes it sounds like it gets violent, too. I am so worried for them, but I’m not quite sure what to do. We live in an apartment building with fairly thin walls, which is why I can hear so much. I wonder if I should knock on their door when the arguments escalate. Or should I call the police? I hesitate to do that as I don’t want to get anybody in trouble. I go back and forth; I would be sick if either of them got hurt and I could have helped to prevent it. What do you recommend? -- Violent Neighbors, Seattle
DEAR VIOLENT NEIGHBORS: The worst thing you can do is be a silent bystander and allow your neighbors’ violent behavior to go unchecked. You can call their house phone, if they have one, when you hear things escalating. Sometimes the phone can work as a distraction to stop the fight from growing. You can knock on the door to ask if they need help. You should not go in. If they are in the midst of a fight, your presence will only make things worse. You should call the police. As conflicted as you may feel, this is the safest course of action. You are not equipped to handle any repercussions that come from approaching the abuser. The person may turn on you or make it harder on the victim. Ask for professional help. For more ideas, go to:
DEAR HARRIETTE: Now that weed is becoming legal across the country, I am having a hard time convincing my teenage children that they shouldn’t smoke it. They shrug off my warnings that it will make them less productive in their schoolwork. They say I am being old-fashioned. Basically, they have stopped listening to me.
I am not against the legalization of marijuana from the perspective that I don’t think people who sell or use it should go to jail. In that way, it’s like alcohol. But I don’t want my kids to drink either. I want them to stay focused on their schoolwork and their future. How can I get that point across without seeming out-of-touch? -- No Weed, Denver
DEAR NO WEED: Lead with your vision for them. Tell them to think less about the law and more about their future. Anything that they consume that could cause them to be distracted from their future is a bad thing. Make sure you tell them that this doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t explore their lives fully, but using weed in any of its forms -- including the many edibles that are available -- is not the answer. Explain that weed can make you less productive at the very time when they need to be strong students preparing for college. Here are medical insights on what marijuana does to the brain: drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/what-are-marijuanas-long-term-effects-brain.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)