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Ask Ellie: Parents need to know about uncle's verbal abuse

No one deserves to be bullied and it must be stopped

Dear Lisi: My uncle is really mean to my brother. He’s always saying mean things to him when he thinks no one else can hear. My brother isn’t afraid of him, but he doesn’t tell my mom because he doesn’t want to upset her.

I didn’t even know everything until I saw and heard something once and asked my brother about it. He admitted that my uncle had been mean to him for a few years.

Luckily, we don’t live in the same country, so we only see them once or twice a year, and only for a few days at a time. We didn’t see them at all during COVID-19, but had a family reunion this summer.

I’m not sure what to do. I’m glad my uncle isn’t mean to me, but I don’t want him to treat my brother badly any more.

Protective Brother

You must tell an adult what your uncle is doing. If you’re worried about upsetting your mom, tell your dad or someone else you trust. What he’s doing to your brother is more than just mean and unkind. It’s verbal and emotional abuse.

No one deserves that kind of bullying and it must be stopped. And though I can’t guarantee it, I am certain that your mother would rather know and put a stop to this behaviour. Yes, you may risk falling out of your uncle’s favour, but you’ll be saving your brother from the constant abuse.

You’ve got this!

Dear Lisi: My best friend’s brother told his girlfriend, who is very close with my girlfriend, that I cheated on her when we were away on a guys’ trip this summer. I did no such thing! In fact, we were on a stag and it made me realize that I’m ready to ask my girlfriend to marry me. I have never and would never cheat on her.

But my girlfriend is now really upset and won’t speak to me. How do I rectify this situation?


What a disaster! But why would your girlfriend believe her friend so easily, without even giving you a chance to explain yourself? Get old-fashioned and write her a letter. It may be the only way.

I have a friend that I like enough. We met years ago through our then girlfriends, but stayed in touch as we are in the same profession. We both like to golf and sail, so spend more time together in the summer months. We’ve even been on vacation together.

But every fall and winter, he’ll call to invite me out for drinks, and when I say yes, he asks to borrow my leaf blower or my snowblower, depending on the season. I enjoy his company, so I’m always happy to say yes, but I find it odd that he needs to invite me out in order to borrow my equipment.

I’m not sure if he likes me as a friend or if he just likes the perks.

Fully stocked friend

I see the predicament you’re in. In order to assuage any doubts about your friendship, I feel you need to jump the gun on this one. As soon as you see the leaves starting to fall, call him yourself and ask if he’d like to borrow your blower. You’ll definitely take him by surprise.

He may be embarrassed; but if he’s really a friend, I can hear him responding with something like, “Thanks so much! But that was always my excuse to see you in the off season. When can we go for a drink?”

At least, I hope that’s what he’s thinking. Let me know how it plays out.

FEEDBACK Regarding the Uber driver who sometimes has rude and disrespectful customers (Sept. 2):

Reader – “Unfortunately, he is already seeing the full spectrum of people in our land. The unfortunate truth is that these people will be there in whatever job/profession/career he later engages in.

“There are going to be ‘idiots’ in every aspect of his life. And there is really nothing he can do about these people.

“So my advice follows that of Ellie’s. (Note: Lisi’s) But, I would add one very important point. Be proud of who he is and never compromise his standards.

“’My car is clean, I don’t smoke and I keep the windows cracked so there’s always fresh air flow. I’m quiet and friendly, say hello when people get in my car, and ask them if the temperature is comfortable.’

“I would also suggest for him to visit bookstores and research coping techniques and methods for dealing with these people.”

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