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Dear Mari: Don’t protect graffiti vandals

DON’T protect graffiti vandals, advises Dear Marilyn.

Dear Marilyn,

I recently was a witness to vandalism that was done to public property. Some people that I know spray painted a wall behind a school.   I saw the whole thing.

   Someone called the cops, and eventually they questioned me. I lied to them. I told them that I didn’t know anything about the incident. I made up a story as to what I was doing at that time. Was it right for me to protect the people involved? I don’t want to be a snitch. Yet, for some reason I feel guilty inside. What should I have done?

Signed, Confused

Dear Confused,

   You were wrong. That is the reason that you feel guilty now. You should have told the police exactly what you knew.

   It would not have been snitching to do that. Snitching is when you tell your mom that your little sister took a cookie from the cookie jar. Snitching telling the teacher that Billy stuck his tongue out at her when her back was turned.

   You were a witness to a criminal activity. I do understand that it would be hard to tell the police what you saw, since you knew the parties involved. It is not always easy to do the right thing.

   There is another thing for you to consider. Since they got away with it, these people will likely do it again. Someone else’s property may be vandalized, or worse.

   One final thought. It is not too late to correct your mistake. You can still go to the police and tell them what you know. I know that would be very difficult for you. However, it is the right thing to do.

Dear Marilyn,

I need your advice. My mother and I live in different places. We talk on the phone a few times a week.

Although we get along with each other most of the time, when we do disagree about something, we both get emotional and start arguing with each other. Once the fights start, we do not stop until one of us ends the phone call in the middle of the argument.

I don’t like stopping our conversations halfway, but it is easier to push the button when we are angry, than it is to continue to listen to her. I am not happy when that happens. In fact, I feel guilty. What should I do in such a situation?

Signed, Worried Daughter

Dear Worried Daughter,

   You need to have a plan, and follow it. Right now, you are acting purely out of the emotions that you are feeling at the time. Those emotions range from frustration to anger.

   You have now had enough of these conversations to know that future calls of this nature are quite likely. Use this knowledge, and work from it.

   You don’t say what your arguments are about, but you know what they are. When the conversation starts to go into those areas, then try to steer the call into another direction.

   If your mother insists on speaking about those issues anyway, then do not allow yourself to get emotional. Instead, just tell her that you respect her opinion, but that you don’t agree.

   Then, change the subject. Or, you can end the call. Don’t end the call with tears or unpleasant discussions. And, certainly don’t hang up on her in the middle of the conversation.

   Instead, just let her know that you love her, but that you really have to go study, or to work, or whatever other activity you need to get to.

   It takes both of you to make an argument. If you refuse to join in, that solves the problem. Also, you will no longer feel guilty.

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