DEAR ABBY: I have a 4-year-old boy and a 2-year-old girl and I’m worried. My husband bullies our son, “Jake.” We often go to a park with swingsets near our home. Jake runs to the swings, gets on, and then my husband pushes it so hard, Jake screams in fear. People sitting on the benches stop talking and turn toward us. If I do what I can to stop this, my husband pushes me. I see him giggling low and his eyes flash with his head bent slightly down.
My husband is not a young father. I’m worried he will continue to bully Jake in other ways as he grows. My husband is a small man with feminine features and a shy demeanor. He has told me how some of his older brothers bullied him, and how girls in the neighborhood called him derogatory names.
I suspect he bullies our son to get even with what happened to him back then. Knowing him, I don’t think counseling will be an option. I feel I must either live with him at my son’s expense, or leave. Do you have any advice for me? — ANONYMOUS IN THE U.S.
DEAR ANONYMOUS: Talk to your husband and tell him his behavior is hurting the boy and it must stop. Does the bullying only occur in the park? If so, avoid going to the park with Daddy.
I’m concerned about your statement that he “pushes” you if you try to intervene. If you mean it literally, that is spousal abuse. Deliberately frightening a child is also abuse, which may indeed escalate as the boy grows older. Some sessions with a licensed psychotherapist could be helpful for you in determining what your next steps should be. Divorce may be the surest way to protect both of your children.
DEAR ABBY: My late husband refused to wear a seat belt. One day a truck hit him. He was thrown around hard inside the car and spent a month in the hospital. An X-ray showed the back of his brain was mush. He was mentally disabled for the rest of his life and needed care 24/7. It was such a waste. He had been a teacher with a master’s degree in education.
My grown children helped me to take care of him. They were heartbroken. This was a tragedy that could have been avoided. It happened only because he didn’t take a few seconds to fasten his seat belt.
Please print this as a reminder to your readers, Abby. — COMMON SENSE CALIFORNIAN
DEAR CALIFORNIAN: I am truly sorry for your family’s pain. Too many people, drivers and passengers, choose to ignore the seat belt laws.
As your letter illustrates, they do so at their own peril. Every traveler, whether in the front or back seat, should buckle up. I’m glad you shared this because so many people are on the road during the holidays. I hope your family’s tragic experience will give them the “nudge” they need.
DEAR ABBY: My son recently married his longtime partner, “Kurt.” They are coming to visit soon. How should I introduce “Kurt” to people now? Do I use the word “husband,” “partner” or something else? — LOST FOR THE WORD
DEAR LOST: Many gay men use “husband” or “spouse” when referring to the man to whom they are married. But, to be sure, ASK your son and Kurt which title they would prefer you to use.