My parents and I have lived in our house for 20 years. We’re well-educated, hard working, private people.
We get along well with almost everyone except the neighbours facing our backyard.
We’re of different races.
In the last 10 years, we've received their four complaints from City Hall, about my dog barking (she's always indoors).
Or, I've been practicing on the violin and piano too loudly.
When I walk past their house, someone swears at me.
Other neighbours overheard them saying there are too many of (our kind) living here, although we’re the only ones.
They've never said hello, waved, or smiled to us during 20 years.
They invite other neighbours to their home for Christmas, Halloween, birthdays, etc.
Their college kids make noise past midnight on weekends and we never dare to complain.
I fear them and find them extremely difficult and despicable, especially when they spy on us through their opened doors and windows.
What should I do?
I’ve omitted the racial description of your family and that of your neighbours which you’d included, to not invite any racial stereotyping or assumptions.
Sometimes the only guaranteed bad-neighbour solution is moving away, but that’s an expensive last resort.
Though unpleasant and annoying, your neighbours haven’t threatened or physically harmed you or your property.
A case could be made for harassment, but the incidents aren’t constant, and you’d have to provide legal proof.
They’re nasty, but so far don’t appear to be dangerous.
Keep a record of all incidents. If more letters arrive, take your own account to City Hall and ask what recourse you have.
I’m not suggesting you knock on their door and talk – though I wish that would help – because of the obvious racism, since they exclude you from neighbourhood gatherings.
But perhaps other neighbours who know them can find out if there’s more to this than prejudice, and if they think anything can help.
You replied to me last March when my daughter-in-law refused to let my fiancée see my newborn grandson at the hospital.
Yet she’d specifically scheduled me 90 minutes to see her and the baby alone.
Presently, relations are fine between my son, my fiancée, and me.
He’s visited us with the children, and taken us to see my granddaughter perform in a gym program.
However, now my fiancée wants nothing to do with my DIL.
Before I met her, my son and his wife would visit me regularly.
After my fiancée joined me, my DIL came several times then stopped.
Is it because my DIL is of one ethnic background and my fiancée of another?
Or, is this about money and inheritance if I marry my fiancée?
I’d sure like to fix this.
Intolerance seems far too common in today’s column, which is sad for us all.
Since you mentioned the two women’s ethnicities (which I’ve omitted) it appears that you and your son represent yet another background and happily had no biases.
But if you each accept that it’s okay for your partner to divide the family on this basis, you’ve both got years of family strife ahead.
You both need to speak up firmly. Your partners should be urged to at least respect each other’s presence for the children’s sakes.
Otherwise, each woman is passing on ugly messages of bigotry and exclusion to yet another innocent generation.
And you may eventually find these negative messages can turn the kids against any or all of you.
FEEDBACK Regarding the man with a “deteriorating relationship” with his father, after the passing of his mother (Nov 25):
Reader – “This unfortunate situation presents an opportunity for this man to help mend things between them.
“He should plan some outings with his father, such as his children's hockey game/practice, their school play, lunch together once or twice a month to a new restaurant, visits to an old neighbourhood, a movie, etc.
“All these ideas and outings open up discussions about the event and encourage a family bond.
“Yes, there will be tears and fond memories of his mother that’ll arise.
“He should reflect and embrace those good memories with his father and his own family.
“That's how people get life rolling again.
“And when it's evident that there’s some joy in the outing or occasion, he can look at his father and say, "Mom would have loved this!"
“I say, “Try it, there’s nothing to lose.”
Tip of the day:
Difficult neighbour-relations are extremely hard to resolve, but other open-minded neighbours may help if asked.