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What’s a mom to do after son shoots a neighbor’s window?

This is the kind of damage done to a window after an 11-year-old boy, tired of being bullied by a neighbor woman, shot at her window. (M. Crandall photo)

For a couple of years a mom has been telling her son to ignore their neighbor who gives him dirty looks. He did. Until recently.

The mom – I’m not using her name – wrote to me asking for advice. Here’s her situation. Their neighbor is a 25-year-old woman who “has been bullying” the mom’s 11-year-old boy for the past two years.

“She tells him he needs to stop making her dogs bark when they play outside,” mom writes. “They don’t purposely make them bark, they are just playing out in my back yard. She has told him our dog is ugly and she gives him dirty looks, just antagonizes him in so many ways.”

The mom has told her son to ignore the neighbor and “don’t stoop down to her level.”

“There have been times where she told me that he is a bad kid while he is standing there. He’s actually a good kid. He gets A’s in school, plays sports, and plays with anybody and everybody,” she writes.

Police were called to the otherwise quiet neighborhood after the son “shot at her window” with a BB gun, and he’s in trouble. He will have to pay to repair the window. She doesn’t have a problem with that.

The officer involved also told the 11-year-old he needs to apologize to the neighbor. But the mother thinks that’s not right because she sees him as the victim of the neighbor’s bullying.

“I want my son to be the bigger person and apologize. He is in trouble for what he did, but I don’t want him to feel like it’s okay to be bullied. Any advice would be helpful.”

I don’t know the neighbor’s side of this. There are at least two sides to every story. I think her son needs to apologize. It’s a simple thing to do and could head off a situation where the neighbor pursues the case legally to teach the boy a lesson she doesn’t think he’s learned.

Beyond that, what are your suggestions for this mom?


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