Dear Blake,

My family includes a niece and her husband with three kids ranging in age from 8 months to 7 years old. The middle child, a 5-year-old girl, is allowed to choose her own outfits for family gatherings and school, with appalling results. Her hair, which is long and tangled, goes unbrushed. Her ill-fitting clothes are worn and inappropriate for the weather and school. Because she’s learning to dress herself without parental guidance, she’s not learning what’s appropriate. When they came for Thanksgiving dinner the child showed up in summer clothes — sleeveless top, thin cotton skirt, etc. I’m surprised neglect charges haven’t been filed against the parents. Any suggestions to get across to them that their parenting style is lacking?

Signed, Ellie

From Newark, New Jersey

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Dear Ellie,

It can be very difficult to tell parents that their dealings with their child is misguided. So, I think publicly shaming those idiots is probably the best tactic. Try to covertly get your niece to dress so outlandish, that people will start saying something to the two morons that created her. Persuade the little girl to wear a bathing suit and carry a beach ball… to a funeral. Encourage her to dress up wearing leather, carrying a whip while verbally degrading every male she sees. The implication will be shocking, but the point will be made. Have her put on some old raggedy clothes, and stand on a corner shaking an empty can at passersby, alleging that’s how her parents get money. Finally, if none of these work, just wait until the next holiday season to address this issue. At the family gathering for Thanksgiving, tell your niece to inform everyone that she wants to carve the turkey, and have her show up dressed like Lizzie Borden, carrying an axe. And after hacking the bird to pieces, have her inform her parents, that unless they start exercising better parental skills, they risk being next on the chopping block… literally. I hope this helps.


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