Neigh­bor con­sid­ers call about baby’s wel­fare

The Washington Post Sunday - - AVICE & PUZZLES - by Amy Dickinson Write to askamy@tri­bune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tri­bune, TT500, 435 N. Michi­gan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

Dear Amy: I am in a quandary

about whether I should mind my own busi­ness about a sit­u­a­tion in our neigh­bor­hood.

A neigh­bor had a baby a year ago, an­nounced with a ban­ner on their front porch. We did not even know she was preg­nant. They keep to them­selves. That baby has never been seen by any of the neigh­bors, not even their next-door neigh­bor.

They never bring her out­side, and no one has seen the child (or the par­ents) in their yard. Other neigh­bors have had ba­bies in the last three years, and they all play out­side with one an­other. We have seen them take the baby out in the car maybe three or four times.

At­tempts by var­i­ous neigh­bors to be friendly are qui­etly re­buffed at the door. I’m won­der­ing whether to make a call to Chil­dren’s Pro­tec­tive Ser­vices to re­quest a wel­fare check on the child. Stay­ing in­doors 24/7 can’t be healthy for a baby. — Wor­ried Neigh­bor

This child could have health (or other) prob­lems caus­ing the par­ents to keep the baby in­side; you sim­ply don’t know. You also don’t know what this fam­ily’s life­style or work sched­ule is.

Over the years, many peo­ple have con­tacted me to say they grew up in ter­ri­ble cir­cum­stances in a neigh­bor­hood where “not one per­son in­ter­vened.” While I do not sug­gest be­ing a busy­body or nec­es­sar­ily judg­ing choices par­ents make, our child wel­fare sys­tem is set up to be the ad­vo­cate for chil­dren who can­not ad­vo­cate for them­selves.

If you are truly wor­ried about this baby’s health, safety and wel­fare, and if you have tried other ways and can­not de­ter­mine whether the child is okay, then you should make the call.

Dear Amy: Read­ing about

“Per­plexed’s” strug­gles with con­nect­ing with her grand­mother with Alzheimer’s re­minded me of my fa­ther. As a child, I fre­quently played check­ers with my dad. Much later, when he was deep into the for­est of me­mory loss, I pulled out a check­ers board and placed it be­tween us. He made the first move, us­ing sev­eral check­ers at one time. I fol­lowed his lead and soon we were cre­at­ing lyri­cal pat­terns on the board. It was a new game, new rules and a new way of con­nect­ing.

That sim­ple moment of reimag­ined com­mu­ni­ca­tion is one of my fa­vorite mem­o­ries of my fa­ther. — Out of the Box

Dear Amy: “Per­plexed” asked for ideas about what ac­tiv­i­ties to do with a grand­mother with Alzheimer’s.

Of­ten Alzheimer’s pa­tients re­spond well to vis­ual arts. Many art mu­se­ums have spe­cial tours for peo­ple with de­men­tia. — Art His­to­rian and Reader

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