DEAR AMY: My husband, "Stan," and I have two great-grandchildren, ages 3 (girl) and 5 (boy). Stan is very critical of the little boy. He teases him a lot and when the child cries or yells at his Pop to stop, Stan gets mad, criticizes him and stomps off. In a recent column, you called this behavior bullying. I had never thought of it that way. Stan doesn't do this all the time but the little boy has told me several times he does not like his "Pop." We were going outside yesterday and he didn't want Pop to come with us and later, when we were taking them home, he didn't want Pop to ride in the car with us. I've tried to explain to the child that he shouldn't dislike his Pop but lately, I don't like him either. This is not new behavior for Stan. He also did it to our own children, especially our oldest -- at one time biting her so hard on the arm when she was 10 that he left a bruise. Then he got mad at her for crying. I've thought about telling Stan what our great-grandson has said about him but I'm afraid it will just make things worse. I'm keeping them for a whole week later this month and I am worried. Advise me how to handle this, please!
DEAR GREAT-GRAN: Teasing or berating a young child and then punishing him for reacting is inexcusable and unacceptable. Yes, it is bullying. Biting a child on the arm hard enough to raise a bruise is abuse. You have either passively accepted this behavior, or (at least) have not done enough to disrupt it.
Your priority should be in protecting a young child who has limited ways to protect himself. So far, your great-grandson is doing a good job by reacting honestly and without fear by pushing back and by not wanting to be with his "Pop." As far as I can tell, this kid's instincts are perfect.
In terms of your husband, start with a very honest talk about his behavior and the impact on others. Did someone treat him this way when he was young? Does he really want this little boy to be afraid of him? You and your husband have a grand opportunity to be heroes to these children by modeling kindness and respect. You should let Stan know that if he can't handle himself around the children, then he should not be with them. Continue to keep a close eye on them.
DEAR AMY: My wife and I were invited for dinner at a new friend's house. When we got there the hostess said she was too tired to cook and so she wanted to go out to dinner. When the bill came he said, "Let's split it." I paid our half, but felt it was really his place to pay the full bill since they initially extended the dinner invitation. Am I wrong? Please clarify.
DEAR DISSED: I agree with you. You were an invited guest. If you had a longer friendship with this couple and a history of back-and-forth hospitality, splitting the check would have been more of a given.
All the same, things do happen and people don't always react perfectly.
I hope you will give this friendship an opportunity to grow and see where it leads.
DEAR AMY: The letter from "Trying to Decide Well" concerned divvying up an estate. After my mother's death my siblings and I gathered in her house (without spouses) and each chose an item of equal value to everyone. We wrote our names down on slips of paper and put them in a hat. We had one of our kids draw a name and whoever's name was drawn got to choose first from the group of items. After each person made their choice, if we wanted to do some horse-trading, we did. We didn't have one argument during this process. It was what our mother would have wanted.
Peaceful with Possessions
DEAR PEACEFUL: This is a wonderful technique, which I hope others will also employ.