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Ask Ellie: Neighbours' overprotective parenting none of your business

They aren’t hurting their children physically or mentally, and we all put some of our own shtick on our kids, the same way our parents did to us

Dear reader: As I noted in an earlier column, my daughter Lisi will be handling the writing duties a few times a week. Enjoy her take on today’s questions. — Ellie

Dear Lisi: Help! I can’t take it! My neighbours are making me crazy! They’re nice people, but they are over-the-top protective parents. I know it’s not my business, so I don’t say anything, but they’re creating serious anxiety in their children.

The kids aren’t allowed to go barefoot in the yard. They’re also not allowed to be outside if there are squirrels in their tree. They’re covered head to toe, even when it’s 30+ degrees, for fear they get any sun exposure. They can’t go in their kiddie pool until the water temperature is a certain degree (they actually check it). The list goes on.

I raised my kids completely differently, though I was protective, cautious and careful. My husband has actually said he was mistaken thinking I was over-the-top back then, in comparison to these people.

Again, not my business, but the kids are afraid of their own shadows!

Sad neighbour

You’re right — it’s none of your business. They aren’t hurting their children physically or mentally, though yes, they may be causing anxiety. But we all put some of our own shtick on our kids, the same way our parents did to us. Live your life, be proud of how you raised your kids, and ignore what’s happening next door. It’s not your bother.

Dear Lisi: I’ve been dumped and I have no idea why. I was really good friends with this woman for about 15 years. We met through our children and our relationship just got increasingly closer. She’s fun, funny and we always had lots to talk about.

When the pandemic hit, we hid in our homes and didn’t see each other — or anyone for that matter — but we spoke on the phone and texted. Over time, my texts started to go unanswered. I called and left messages — also unanswered.

I asked our mutual friends if they knew anything, and was told that she had lots going on and not to take it personally. So, I didn’t. I just kept reaching out, texting and leaving messages.

I finally got her on the phone and she promised nothing was wrong, she was just busy with life. I believed her and attempted at maintaining the friendship. But there was only one person in the relationship — me.

It’s been two years and I’m still in the dark. Something happened recently, and I mentioned it to a mutual friend. She looked at me and said, “Don’t take it personally. You’re not the only one who’s been dumped.” But she wouldn’t tell me more.

Now I want to commiserate with the other people who’ve been on the receiving end of this friendship loss, but I don’t know who and I don’t want to ask around. How do I find out?

Dumped and dazed

What a sad story! I completely understand why you want to commiserate with the other dumped friend — for affirmation that it’s not your fault.

Coincidentally, a similar thing happened to me during these past two years. I took it hard because I thought I must have offended this friend. I apologized numerous times, but got nothing in return. I spoke to mutual friends and they had no idea what had happened.

I recently found out that another friend was in the same situation. We had a long talk and I do feel better knowing it wasn’t anything I had done.

I suggest asking your mutual friend if she wouldn’t mind telling you who else is in the same situation so you two can commiserate. Explain that it’s not for the purpose of ganging up, but rather to help you process.

Dear Lisi: My cousin is rude, aggressive and a bully. But not to me. Ever. On the contrary, he thinks I’m in agreement with everything he says and does. I’ve called him out, told him directly how I feel, but he just laughs.

He never gets mad at me. Not that I want him to, but I would like him to stop his bad behaviour.

How do I get through to him?

Confused cousin

Take him out for coffee/drinks/dinner alone. Ask him about his relationship with those to whom he’s mean. Discuss his behaviour and how you see it. Hear him out. Try to get to the reason behind why he’s unkind.

If he doesn’t get it, and you see no change, you’ll have to stop spending time with him. For your own sanity.

Ellie Tesher and Lisi Tesher are advice columnists for the Star and based in Toronto. Send your relationship questions via email: [email protected].