Two years ago, a couple built a home on the lot next to ours. From the time they moved in, we have been concerned about their 11-year-old son's anti-social behavior.
It began with him trying to coax our dog into his yard when we were trying to call her in. Then he started coming into our yard, playing roughly with our three small children and using vulgar language around our 8-year-old daughter.
He is no longer allowed in our yard and has been kicked out of three other homes in the neighborhood.
The most recent incident occurred a few days ago, when he yelled a profanity at our daughter. I called his mother, and she told me her son would "never behave that way"!
Abby, this boy is creepy. I don't trust him. He stands in his yard staring at us whenever we are outside.
I'm worried his behavior will get worse. Other neighbors have seen him abuse his dog and other animals. His parents never watch him.
What do we do?
I'm worried about my children's safety.
- Afraid in Wisconsin
DEAR AFRAID: You have described a child who is emotionally disturbed and parents who are in denial.
Because the neighbors have seen him abuse animals, a report should be made to the police and the department of animal welfare in your community.
This boy has no empathy for others and needs professional help. Until he gets it, you are wise to be concerned about your children.
Keep a watchful eye.
DEAR ABBY: I lost my father a few months ago after his long battle with cancer. We were very close, and I miss him terribly.
My ex-husband and I are not on good terms, despite the fact that we have children together. He asked our kids - not me - if it was OK if he attended the funeral. I told them I didn't want him there. I just wanted to grieve in peace.
A few minutes after Dad's funeral service began, my ex walked in the back door. My sister knew he had been asked not to attend, so she asked him to please leave.
I am so disgusted. My former in-laws, whom I didn't get along with either, sent flowers. I would have preferred they keep their flowers - but at least they didn't show up.
My children are now mad at me because their father was asked to leave. I just wanted to be left alone.
I don't understand why this was so hard for everyone to understand. It was my father, not his, and I just wanted to grieve in peace.
- Mourning for my Dad in Missouri
DEAR MOURNING: Please accept my condolences for the loss of your father. Your children may have wanted their father there because they were grieving the loss of their grandfather.
According to Emily Post: "If there was ill feeling between the ex-spouse and the deceased," and I assume your father felt about your ex as you do, "the ex should not attend the funeral; instead, he (or she) sends flowers and a sympathy note."
However, your wishes should not have been ignored.
The new year has begun, and the less baggage you carry into it, the better off you will be. Please try to forgive your ex for his insensitivity and get on with your life.
If you can manage that, it will be less painful for you and your children. If you can't, then counseling may help you to let go of some of your anger, and I recommend it. *