Dear Abby: I hear neighbor yelling, cursing at his little kids

Reader concerned about nephews, ages 4 and 2, who live upstairs with short-tempered brother-in-law.

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DEAR ABBY: I live on the bottom floor of a duplex with my wife. My brother-in-law, his wife and their two sons, ages 4 and 2, are upstairs. Since the 2-year-old was born, he’s been very rambunctious and fussy. I consider my BIL a good parent overall, but for a while now, I hear him blow up, scream, curse and shout at the younger child. I don’t think it’s healthy.

I have a hard time with it because of my upbringing, which left a mark. I grew up in a home ruled by intimidation. I am also a school counselor. The 4-year-old has a pronounced speech impediment that I’m hoping the school will help with. As an adult and someone who works with kids, it bothers me to hear this go on every day in our home.

I wouldn’t dare to say anything to my BIL or SIL. I’m just worried about the boys. Will they be OK? Please, let me know what to do. We all want my nephews to be well, but I can’t blur the line between counselor and aunt. — FULL OF CONCERN IN THE EAST

DEAR FULL: Nothing will change unless you find the courage to speak out. Involve your wife in this. Both of you should talk to your brother-in-law and sister-in-law about how being intimidated from an early age affected your life. Suggest that if the kids are becoming more than your BIL can handle, he find a way to take a break from them until he calms down. The school may be able to help the older boy with his speech impediment, and you should make sure that the help is requested. Beyond this, there’s nothing more you can do to change the unhealthy dynamic upstairs.

DEAR ABBY: I was in a relationship for 48 years. We lived together for 15 years, were married for 30 years and divorced three years ago. We have one married child, who has three children. Not all of our years together were glorious. We had our share of problems, and we just grew apart. Yes, we slept in the same bed and went on vacations, but there was no intimacy for a good 20 years. I would have to ask him for a hug or a kiss, which he would give, but I didn’t feel loved. I love him, but I’m no longer in love with him.

I help him any time he asks. We live in the same town. I’m now wondering if our current relationship is a convenience. We share a meal a couple times a week, and he calls or texts almost daily. But he doesn’t want me around his current group of friends.

I have my own outside interests, but I’m trying to figure out where I stand in his life. I think I’m OK with a friendship with him. We’re both retired. For the record, I have no desire to date, nor do I want to put myself in that position. I dislike being out by myself after dark. Advice, please? — MOVED ON IN NEW MEXICO

DEAR MOVED ON: If you want to know where you stand in your ex-husband’s life, ASK HIM. From my long-distance perspective, the two of you have four decades-plus of mutual experiences, and it’s a relationship that has value. If you derive some pleasure from it, why throw it away? However, if maintaining a relationship with him prevents you from moving on in your own life, concentrate on widening your circle of friends and going forward independently.

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.

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order “How to Have a Lovely Wedding.” Send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds), to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. (Shipping and handling are included in the price.)

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