Every week, Danny Ortberg and Nicole Cliffe discuss a Prudie letter. This week: the angry neighbor.
Nicole: KEEP YOUR SON OFF HIS PROPERTY
He is clearly unstable!!! He hasn’t done anything illegal, so far
your seven-year-old should not be wandering solo into yards.
Danny: yeah I feel a lot of sympathy for the LW because this guy sounds awful and it’s deeply troubling that he’s describing serial killers to your seven-year-old
Nicole: for sure
Truly an awful dude!
Danny: but there’s a really obvious solution here
And that is to keep your kid out of this guy’s yard
Nicole: He is not approaching kids in their own spaces
Danny: especially since it doesn’t sound like this neighbor seeks your kid out or tries to hassle him when he’s just like, walking home from the bus stop
Nicole: yep! your son should not be afraid to cross the street but also you need to pay attention to where he’s at and make it clear that this place is a no go
Danny: right, and it sounds like he complained to you at first, and your son kept going over to his house
which again, does not justify his saying cruel things to your child, just that the solution here is simple
there is no solution where you magically convince or threaten him to ignore your child wandering around his property
Danny: I know you can’t watch your kid like a hawk 24/7, but if you need to keep a closer eye on him until he seems really clear on not being able to go to that guy’s house, then that’s what you should do
for what it’s worth, we edited this one for length, and the serial killer the neighbor described was Albert Fish
okay on the off chance he eats your kid PLEASE SUPERVISE HIM
Danny: yeah. So that is a definite escalation. I’d certainly mention it to the other parents in the neighborhood.
Nicole: Yeah, I think talking to them about it is reasonable
Danny: how do you deal with the kid’s nightmares?
[an hour passes]
Nicole: I have given you ENOUGH.
Nicole: nightmares are hard!! make sure he knows they’re not real and he can come to you whenever he’s scared, I wish I had better advice for that one.
Danny: yeah it’s hard because nightmares aren’t real but serial killers are
and “There aren’t very MANY of them” can only get you so far
Danny: This is kind of a dark note to end on. I have no children, and Nicole has three, so I was really hoping she’d have some great answer for addressing the pains and uncertainties of life for children. But in addition to letting your kid know he can come to you when he’s scared, I think it will be helpful to reassure him that he’s safe at home with you, that you’re looking out for him, and that the serial killer in question lived a long time ago and was caught.
Ok we gotta go to print with this one so I will just assume you agree!!! I love