My wife and I have our first child, a daughter. She’s great, but does what babies often do - cry/scream, often in the middle of the night.
We live in a townhouse with thin walls. I feel badly for our neighbours who have young children of their own. I'm worried that our daughter's cries from powerful lungs are waking them.
We asked about it when we met them outside and they seem understanding.
But I'm not sure whether we should formally apologize, go over with a bottle of wine, buy them a white noise machine to put in the room on the other side of the wall, or something else.
Your consideration for others is admirable. Since your neighbours have young children, they’ve surely also experienced some loud crying episodes in the night.
Your idea of giving them a bottle of wine after a difficult night will be appreciated.
Meanwhile, you’ve joined a large club of first-time parents and could use some reassurance that the initiation rites of sleeplessness don’t go on forever.
If possible and desirable, invite those understanding neighbours over and share some wine, coffee, whatever, while you chat about the joys and trials of bringing up baby.
You’ll find through years of child rearing that gathering information is always worthwhile.
Don’t hesitate to also check with your baby’s doctor if the crying seems too frequent or reflects pain.
Also read some contemporary experts on parenting and if you feel you need more guidance, consider taking a parenting course.
My mother’s extremely self-centered and has relationships only as a means to an end.
She repeatedly cancels plans because something better has come up.
She’ll also bluntly say she was too busy to return a call.
A year ago, she told me she could spend the rest of her life never seeing me or talking to me.
I was a little stunned but very hurt. Some of my siblings get treated the same way and some don't.
She doesn't work, have a partner, or any friends. Her world revolves around three of my siblings and their children.
I was still making an occasional effort to see her but recently decided to stop setting myself up for repeated rejection.
The last time we spoke, I said, "let me know when you’re free so we can get together.”
It’s been six months of no contact, not even over Christmas. Your comments?
Done with Mom
If you’re looking for permission or approval of your disengagement from your mother, you don’t need it.
You’re an adult who’s tried, reassessed, and emotionally withdrawn.
But if you’re thinking it’s okay to cut all ties forever, that’s not so easy or wise.
Things change. She’ll get older, and not understand why you don’t seem to care (it’s part of her self-absorbed nature to not recognize her part in pushing you away).
Your siblings who are close to her will have opinions on all this, and you may not be emotionally comfortable being misjudged, or losing touch with all of them.
However, taking “a break” from expectations about getting together, is healthy for awhile.
If trying to re-connect (briefly) becomes something you can handle, contact her. Also, ask your other siblings how she’s doing. You’re part of a large family and they need to know that you’ve tried.
There’s no guarantee she’ll respond as you wish, but I believe that you and your relatives need to know the effort was made.
FEEDBACK Regarding an older brother’s fears of being made responsible for his brother, 39, with mental health issues (January 31):
Reader – “It’s not his responsibility since the parents apparently haven’t discussed plans with him, nor prepared financially for their son’s future care.
“They seem intent to continue coddling him, then pawn him off on his brother when they can no longer care for him.
“Since this younger brother achieved a college degree, he can handle part-time work if not full time, or home-based employment.
“If I were in the writer’s shoes, I’d agree to take care of him only if he immediately starts to seek appropriate and accommodating employment, and secures a job as soon as possible.
“If the parents and younger brother are unwilling to do this, I’d say they must make other plans for the inevitable.”
Ellie – A kinder, practical approach is talking to his parents about what’s needed regarding care and finances.
Tip of the day:
As new parents, check with the baby’s doctor and seek information on any persistent and worrisome behaviours.