Po­lice­man dis­mayed by mom us­ing him to dis­ci­pline child

The Western Star - - LIFE - Abi­gail Van Buren 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 www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los An­ge­les, CA 90069.

DEAR ABBY: The me­dia give us sto­ries of racial con­flict and the shoot­ing of po­lice of­fi­cers al­most daily, and ev­ery re­porter and news an­chor pro­poses so­lu­tions. As a His­panic po­lice of­fi­cer in a small city, I have an ob­ser­va­tion.

I was hav­ing lunch the other day with two other of­fi­cers. Sit­ting across from us was a young mom whose child was throw­ing a temper tantrum. I over­heard her say, “If you don’t be­have, I’m go­ing to give you to those po­lice of­fi­cers and let them beat you!”

Abby, my par­ents taught me the po­lice were my friends — peo­ple I could go to if I had a prob­lem. We work hard to in­ter­act with the com­mu­nity. I won­der how many other tired and frus­trated par­ents have made their chil­dren afraid of the po­lice and cre­ated dis­trust. Like so many other “so­cial prob­lems,” maybe a lot of this re­ally starts with how par­ents teach their chil­dren. — PO­LICE ARE MY FRIENDS DEAR PO­LICE OF­FI­CER: It is the par­ents’ re­spon­si­bil­ity to dis­ci­pline their chil­dren; it is not the job of the po­lice! It is a huge mis­take for par­ents to in­still fear of au­thor­ity fig­ures in their chil­dren, be­cause a day may come when the kid needs help from one of them.

And by the way, this doesn’t hap­pen only with law en­force­ment of­fi­cers. I have heard of chil­dren who are ter­ri­fied of doc­tors be­cause their moth­ers threatened them by say­ing if they mis­be­haved, “the doc­tor would give them a shot.” To say these are prime ex­am­ples of poor par­ent­ing is putting it mildly.

DEAR ABBY: I have lived next door to my late hus­band “Jack’s” 86-year-old mother for the last 26 years. Jack died seven years ago.

Re­cently, she asked for my help chang­ing an over­head light bulb. When she thanked me, I re­sponded, “That’s what fam­ily is for!” She looked at me with a puz­zled ex­pres­sion and fi­nally said, “Hmm ... I guess we are fam­ily, in a way.”

I replied: “Your son and I were mar­ried 25 years. You’re the grand­mother of our chil­dren. I’m pretty sure that makes us fam­ily.” She then in­formed me she had stopped be­ing my mother-in-law when Jack died.

I al­ways thought she would re­main my mother-in-law un­til I re­mar­ried, if ever. Abby, I con­fess, I was not only floored by her re­mark, but also hurt. She used to al­ways tell me I was the daugh­ter she’d al­ways wanted, but since Jack passed away, it has been painfully ob­vi­ous it was never true.

So who is right? Is she still my mother-in-law? Or is she now my “ex”? — UN­WANTED “DAUGH­TER” DEAR UN­WANTED: Jack’s mother ap­pears to suf­fer from foot-in-mouth dis­ease. From your de­scrip­tion of what hap­pened, I don’t think she meant to ap­pear re­ject­ing. I think she may have been gen­uinely puz­zled be­cause she thought her in­law re­la­tion­ship with you ended with her son’s death. I am sure she was sin­cere when she said she loves you like the daugh­ter she never had. Re­visit this with her and tell her how it made you feel. You both need to clear the air.

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