Dear Abby: Mom’s not laughing at pranks by husband, kids

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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.

DEAR ABBY: I am writing because we are receiving some snide comments because of our daughter’s choice of college major. She’s majoring in dance.

When people with college-age kids or grandkids find out, you can see it in their expression or hear it in their tone of voice. “Oh, really? Ummm, how nice.” Or worse, the condescending, “How ‘sweet.’ “

Our daughter has always been an honor student. Starting in high school she carried full loads of classes and extracurriculars, held jobs and was active in church. In college she has added dance company and sorority to her resume.

I want these people to realize it takes guts to pursue her dream of becoming a dancer/choreographer and not major in something more conventional. We support her decision, and she already has her associate’s degree in a field that will be useful as a backup.

Why can’t people understand that fine arts majors are brave, bold and passionate about their crafts? — DANCER’S MOM IN TEXAS

DEAR DANCER’S MOM: If you react to the comments in a positive way rather than become defensive, they would give you the opening to smile and tell these “conventional thinkers” how proud you are of your daughter’s choice to pursue her dreams, that her courage in pursuing a field as competitive as entertainment is more than “nice” and you admire her for it.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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