Life Advice



Ask Amy: New neighbors endanger their children

Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: I have serious concerns about new neighbors, who moved in about a year ago. They have two young daughters.

I suspect the mother is an alcoholic. Her actions are putting the girls in danger.

On several occasions I and other neighbors have seen her drive erratically down our street, once with a little girl on her lap holding the steering wheel.

Another time she had left the house and was chugging a bottle of wine outside. She was yelling about how she was free because the girls were alone inside: “Hooray, I’m free…!”

The latest issue was most frightening.

I was walking my dog and one of the little girls was naked and standing in the street.

She was crying, saying that she could not find her mommy.

I took her to her house and searched the home for the mother.

The house was filthy and looked like it had been ransacked. There were no bed sheets on the beds and the kitchen was trashed.

I was scared that something had happened.

I ended up finding the mother curled in a bedroom corner with the second daughter.

After finally waking her, she said that she had the stomach flu and couldn't handle the children.

I offered to bring the girls to my house so she could clean herself up. She refused.

I left the room, but stayed close by in case she took me up on my offer.

I did call her husband and he thanked me for my concern.

The husband has also been visibly drunk in front of the house.

What do I do now? Should I call social services?

I am very concerned for the children's well-being.

– A Concerned Neighbor

Dear Concerned: You were kind to intervene. But you should have called the police immediately upon finding this little girl, naked and crying in the street.

You could have put your own shirt over her and comforted and calmed her down on the sidewalk while waiting for the police to arrive. This is an extremely frightening situation for a vulnerable child.

Under these circumstances, it’s a tough judgment call for you to bring the child back into a house where you’ve never been and where you don’t know what you’ll encounter.

Having encountered this horror show, you did your best to be kind, calm, and helpful. A true good Samaritan.

Now that you’ve seen the inside of this household, you should immediately call your local Department of Child Services, describe the incident, the household, and other frightening things you’ve witnessed.


These children need immediate protection, and their parents should face legal consequences for their criminal neglect.

Dear Amy: The letters you get about weddings sometimes amaze me, and also make me laugh.

I am invited to a wedding this month.

The wedding is being held in the couple’s backyard, and the invitation says “Formal,” so I’m assuming everyone will be dressed up.

The guests will be seated on hay bales covered with a white cloth.

When I questioned this, I was told, “Oh, hay bales are the latest thing for weddings.”

The bride is in her 50s, so most of the guests will be 50 years old and up.

Can you just see us all sitting on hay bales, wearing formal attire?

It’s going to be interesting.

– Too Old for Nonsense

Dear Too Old: Rustic/formal weddings are trendy. And these weddings are starting to seem as artificial as a drive-thru Las Vegas chapel.

As someone who grew up on a dairy farm, actually sitting on hay bales, I assure you that no amount of cloth will prevent those gnarly stiff and prickly pieces of hay from poking into your undercarriage.

You might want to bring along one of those insulated seats people take to football games.

Now that’s classy!

Dear Amy: “Concerned Grandma” was upset because her son let his teenage kid drink at home.

My dad brought me up with what he called "controlled rebellion."

If I wanted to drink, I could drink at home, if I wanted to smoke weed, I did it at home. With me, it worked. I never got in a car with someone who was drinking, I never got date raped, arrested or pregnant.

My point is, there are no absolutes. Every child is different and it should be no concern to grandma about how the grandkids are being raised.

– Former Teen

Dear Teen: You are right about absolutes. But “Concerned Grandma” was mainly worried about the history of alcoholism in the family.


(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.)

©2023 Amy Dickinson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.




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