DEAR CAROLYN: There are parents in our neighborhood who set their kids' toys into the street, then let their toddlers (about 1 and 2) play there. Sometimes the parents are sitting close by, other times they are engaged in yard work. This area is about 30 feet from a corner, so you turn onto our road to suddenly (barely!) see these kids over the hood. When you slam on the brakes, the parents wave and giggle as if to say, "Aren't they just adorable?!"
We neighbors don't feel it's our place to challenge their parenting style, but we all fear this will end in tragedy. Your advice?
NERVOUS NEIGHBORS: No, you do not have to tiptoe around your neighbors' right to let their toddlers! play! in traffic!
YT667 4R5545 YHUUI
[Hey forehead, says my keyboard, go easy.]
It doesn't "challenge" their "parenting style" to get out of your car to tell them that you almost killed their kids because any drivers taking the turn can't see them till it's almost too late. That one of these days it'll be too late, devastating everyone involved.
If they ignore you and keep letting their toddlers! play! in traffic!, then maybe it would become a parenting-style challenge to pull over every single time to beg them to stop — but do it anyway. All of you nervous neighbors.
I would like to think everyone responsible for children's safety looks for risk beyond what is immediately visible, but maybe these two genuinely can't see past their yard-angle view of a mostly quiet street in a friendly neighborhood, and would genuinely welcome having the danger of the corner spelled out for them so their kids don't get hit by a car.
So assume the best of them.
They needed it spelled out the first time this happened, or perhaps more convincingly on the second, which would have allowed you to say it wasn't just a fluke the first time ... but really this is all academic. Just say it.
I understand your wariness. As a society, we've embraced two extremes: either being righteously up in the business of every parent who dares have small kids in public, or being so boundary bludgeoned that we won't even yell "fire" when it's licking toddlers' hems.
This is fire. It's yell time. Calmly-kindly of course. Thank you.
DEAR CAROLYN: My wife and I are good friends with a couple. My wife talked to the wife, who shared sad medical information and the admonition to not tell anyone (the husband knows). My wife then told me. Later in the day, I called the husband, and during the conversation let him know I was aware of the news.
Now my wife accuses me of betraying her confidence. I say they should have expected my wife to share the news with me, and that it belittles our marriage to expect her not to. My wife says I should have lied about knowing. I am not that good an actor!
What should we have done differently to avoid this?
Mr. Moral Dilemma
MR. MORAL DILEMMA: Upon hearing the news, your wife had a responsibility to inform her friend she intended to tell you, but otherwise keep her confidence.
It's not all on her, though; you both just assumed others would live by your rules.