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Ask Ellie: Safety comes first where kids are involved

Dear Reader: As I noted in an earlier column, my daughter, Lisi, will be handling the writing duties a few times a week. Enjoy her take on today’s questions.

Dear Reader: As I noted in an earlier column, my daughter, Lisi, will be handling the writing duties a few times a week. Enjoy her take on today’s questions. - Ellie

FEEDBACK regarding the neighbour with a conscience (June 1):

Reader: “Sorry, your reply was way off to suggest a wait-and-see-what-happens. Leaving children under the age of 12 is of great concern; leaving children with a stranger is child endangerment. This neighbour should contact CAS immediately. The comment you made about the mom being embarrassed doesn’t fly. The woman apparently isn’t embarrassed to be yelling at the top of her lungs in the vicinity of other people. These children, and possibly the father, are being abused right now. Not sure you thought this answer through, but second chances or keep a watch for further incidents is definitely not in the children’s best interest.

“Safety comes first with children, always.”

Lisi: I agree. I would never leave a child under 12 alone, nor with a stranger. From the much longer letter that was sent me, I know that the gardener wasn’t a stranger to the children or the neighbour. They’ve actually known him their whole lives as he works for the gated community in which they live.

The parents have since divorced, and no one was being abused. Unfortunately, the mom was sick and is now being treated. But while their marriage was falling apart, she would yell.

The children were never in any physical danger, though you and I may not have done some of the things their mother chose to do.

I completely agree with your statement that safety comes first.

Readers Commentary regarding the question that included: “just as my son-in-law is getting back on his feet post-COVID, and my daughter is working two jobs to cover them,” (June 1):

“Two things need to happen immediately:

“1. Call the police and report the incident. It is likely not the first from the advertiser.

“2. Take the dog to the local SPCA. It is evident that the family cannot afford the dog.

“If affordable”? Lisi, see above comment. They cannot afford.

“This would also be a lesson for the ‘obsessively begging my daughter’ that things are not always what they appear.

“No one is able to take care of the dog, and the parents cannot afford a dog walker. They really have no other choice.”

Lisi: Yes, agreed that they should call the police regarding the false advertising. And also yes, there is a lesson here for the children.

But I don’t agree that they need to get rid of the dog because they can’t afford it. The parents knew what they were getting into financially, since they had put off getting a dog for that, and other, reasons.

Also, it’s the grandmother who wrote me and wants to help any way she can. I have no idea whether she can afford a dog walker or not — and neither do you. And now that it’s summer, there are lots of high school and college students looking for part-time jobs. Hopefully, the family would be able to find someone.

This family just needs some advice and help — not your judgment. And, if you’ve ever owned a dog, you’ll know that once you fall in love (which happens quickly), it’s nearly impossible to give a dog away. There are definitely times when it’s necessary, but from this grandmother’s letter, it doesn’t sound to me that this is one of them.

Dear Lisi: Is it possible to be fair when gift-giving? Are dollar amounts the same for biological grandchildren and non-biological grandchildren?

Or, is it better to plan outings, experiences, hikes, sports?

Blended Granny

Your very short letter speaks volumes — in a good way. I can only surmise that you have grandchildren who are part of your larger blended family and you want to treat them fairly. Good for you.

The answer is yes: treat children equally. From your letter, I gather the children are young. I doubt at this point, they look at you as their non-biological grandmother and love you less. And I imagine you don’t treat them differently when visiting. So, if you’re giving monetary gifts, cash or gift cards, yes — give them all the same amount.

But kids love experiences. Take them to a baseball game if that’s what they’re into; or musical theatre, if you think it will appeal. They’ll remember that far longer than any gift card.

Ellie Tesher and Lisi Tesher are advice columnists for the Star and based in Toronto. Send your questions to