Dear Amy: My sister and I have been conflicted about our parents for a long time.
All through our childhood, our dad used to beat us (and our older brother). We vividly remember him coming into our room at night and choking us for not going to sleep right away because we were talkative and shared a room. I was about 4 at the time, my sister 6.
Our mother did nothing about it and sometimes even watched! She remembers it as trying to "defuse" the situation.
Our parents think they were model parents and even encourage me to punish my 1-year-old baby the same way they punished us.
They talk down to us, and my dad has given me a very inappropriate nickname. He smacks us around the back of our heads as he walks by (we're in our 20s now). My mother calls us failures because we didn't go to college.
Our parents also let us smoke from young ages (14 and 16) and never gave us any sort of sex talk, even though we had boyfriends. We just can't stand their attitude, and we're not sure what to do.
— Confused about the folks
Dear Confused: My unbiased opinion is that your parents are dangerous. They demeaned and physically punished you. When you were children, they didn't teach you right from wrong. They didn't protect you. Your parents laid down a legacy of abuse and failure.
Do not let them continue this into the next generation. Your local department of children and family services may offer free parenting classes. Take a class to learn how to parent respectfully and to see how good your own instincts are (I think they're great).
You need to protect yourself and your child. You don't say whether you live with your parents (I hope not). But if you do, I think your first goal should be to get away from them. Secondly, you should put every ounce of your energy into making an awesome life for your baby. Never leave your child alone with your parents, and never follow their parenting tips.
Dear Amy: "Future Widow" was at a loss about what to do when her husband died.
I remember when a friend's dad (who was an atheist) died. They thought a church service would not fit his lifelong views. They found a small local theater and put a big screen onstage and had a slide show of photos from his life playing on a loop while family and friends used the podium to eulogize him. It was one of the most touching services I have ever attended!
— Faithful Reader
Dear Reader: Funeral directors can help guide a nonreligious memorial service.
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