Life Advice



Ask Amy: Grandparents’ choice to joy-ride is not safe

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: Seven months ago, my-in-laws took my not-quite five-year-old child for an overnight, and broke the one rule that my spouse and I set for our child’s time with them: NOT to ride their ATV.

We do not feel it is safe, particularly on public roads.

We reminded them of this rule as they were leaving for the outing.

Immediately upon their return, our child spontaneously shared that they had ridden the ATV, including on the roads.

My in-laws did not apologize, nor acknowledge wrongdoing. They believe it is safe and within their rights to make that decision.

An additional concern I have is that they have unsecured firearms in their home and refuse to get a gun safe to lock their weapons.

I believe that two matters show very poor judgment on their part, and that my young child is not safe in their care.

I don't feel that my in-laws are trustworthy, they don't respect us as the parents, and they have poor judgment in regard to safety.

My spouse is more inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt, despite these and other differences.

Your take?

– Concerned Parent

Dear Concerned: My take is that these grandparents should not have your child on their property without you or your spouse being physically present.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission’s 2018 annual ATV report on deaths and injuries (the most recent statistics) finds “there were 81,800 ATV-related emergency department-treated injuries reported in 2018. More than a quarter of those injuries were sustained by children under 16 years old, the highest of any age group.”

The report goes on to say: “Even if a locality allows people to drive off-road vehicles on paved public roads, ATVs are not designed for that purpose. ATVs can be unwieldy on paved surfaces, and the risk of collision with a car, truck, or other vehicle is significantly higher, increasing a rider’s chances of injury or death.”

Each year in the U.S., nearly 350 children under 17 gain access to a gun and unintentionally kill or injure themselves or someone else, according to Nearly 77 percent of the incidents happen inside the home.

Not only do your in-laws exhibit extremely poor judgment regarding the safety of your child (or any child), but they obviously don’t respect your very reasonable requirements.

Their behavior also puts your young child in the terrible position of doing things they are not supposed to do, and then risking rebuke by the grandparents when the child tells you about it.

Please, educate your child about gun safety!

The NRA’s guidelines for young children are simple:

“Stop! Don’t touch. Run away. Tell an adult.” (

I live in a rural area where many people own both ATVs and guns. But NO responsible person who cares about children will risk a child’s safety.


And no wise grandparent who wants to spend time with a grandchild will openly defy that child’s parents.

Dear Amy: I was just reading your "Best of" column from 2012 that addresses political differences between friends.

Part of your response to writer ("Fed Up") was: "Sophisticated people living in a country devoted to free speech should be able to tolerate different – or even offensive – perspectives without wanting to leave the country...."

Even though this advice is 10 years old, it's still (if not more) relevant today.

I wrote it down on my calendar so I can see it every day and hopefully be able to quote it without botching it up.

Thank you!

– Grateful

Dear Grateful: I have to admit that when I was reviewing columns from 10 years ago, I was a little surprised that the political divide referenced even existed.

And then I remembered, as I often do, my own early childhood in the turbulent ’60s and ’70s.

Now I wonder if turbulence might be the norm, while periods of calm and relative solidarity are rare.

I believe we should all value our freedom to disagree loudly and to protest robustly. There are many places in the world where this is not possible.

Dear Amy: I appreciated your compassion toward “Well Read,” the grieving widow who was so offended when her fellow book club members confronted her over her erratic behavior.

After hearing her out, “What is going on with you?” was the perfect question to ask her.

I hope she will see a doctor for a medical evaluation.

– Concerned

Dear Concerned: It is tough to be on the receiving end of an intervention; I hope she can see past her hurt feelings and get help.


(You can email Amy Dickinson at or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

©2022 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.




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