Spiritually Speaking

QUESTION: We have a very rambunctious dog that dug under the fence and destroyed our neighbor’s flower garden. We were horrified and offered to pay for the damage, which he accepted; however, he continued to grumble about the extra work it was causing him and now he won’t speak to us at all. We’ve reinforced the fence to prevent anything like that ever happening again. The sad part is he won’t let his children play with our children anymore and they were best friends.


My husband and I are at a loss of how to fix this problem. We believe we’ve acted with kindness and understanding and don’t know what else to do. What would you suggest?

~ Neighborly Family

Dear Neighborly Family,

First of all, don’t you dare get rid of your dog! You didn’t propose doing so, but just in case you were thinking that way, please don’t. And in the interests of full disclosure, my wife and I have three dogs and one cat, and all are rescues. So you should know right up front that I love animals. I am a Christian minister, but I must say that your neighbor is acting like a jerk! (I didn’t say he was a jerk, I simply said he was acting like one!)

But seriously, how childish can one get? You have apparently taken all the
steps to ensure that Fido doesn’t repeat what he did before – so what do his kids playing with your kids have to
do with you having a dog? Nothing. You know what? I am going to guess that if it hadn’t been the dog, it would
have been something else that would have sent your neighbor off the deep end. Your “bad” dog was just an excuse.

But here is what I would do: tell him or write him that you like him and his kids, and you like it that his kids and
your kids “found” each other. While you are sorry that your dog caused him some grief, tell him that it doesn’t seem
entirely fair for him to deny his kids and yours simply because he’s angry at what your dog did. So ask him for
another chance; Christians know that God is a God of second chances. And after you have made your proposal,
say a prayer for the guy. I don’t know that I’d tell him you’re praying for him; he might think you’re a religious
fanatic! But do pray for him and for you to see his point of view, and then see what happens. It is, after all, the
Christmas season and all sorts of miracles can happen!

Good luck, and may the healing, unifying Spirit of
God be with you both. Amen.

The Rev. Skip Lindeman La Cañada Congregational Church lindemanskip@yahoo.com
The Rev. Skip Lindeman
La Cañada Congregational Church


The Rev. Skip Lindeman

La Cañada Congregational Church


Dear Neighborly Family,

There are angry people in this world. There are people who have made negativity such an important thing in their lives that it is a “go to” place for them.

The sages of the Talmud tell us that forgiveness is to be sought out to make things right between two parties. However, if forgiveness is sincerely sought three times and the person doesn’t grant forgiveness (with the exception of intentional murder as there is no way to bring the person back and therefore make amends), the seeker of said forgiveness is exonerated by God and can feel that s/he has done everything possible. There should be no guilt going forward. Still, there is the problem of the negativity and animosity that exists between you and your neighbor.

You have fixed the fence so that this problem will not happen again.   Have you tried a cake or some other toothsome treat that would please your neighbor and his family? Try creating a small event with something to eat where your children will be together, even for the duration of the eating. When the children are together again inclusive of you and your family there might be a chance for a relaxing of tensions.

Bring your most sincere and kind self to all these endeavors. I hope that in time your neighbor will discover the upside of friendliness. At the very least, you will feel happier that you have done what you can to make your life more pleasant and less stressful. Your children will also get a firsthand look at how you are bringing your vision of goodness and right action into the world.

We cannot always get the results we desire. However, I hope these suggestions will give you a sense of the power you do have to create good in your life. Just getting in touch with that power is a great step to a wonderful life.

 Rabbi Janet Bieber WEB

Rabbi Janet Bieber

Jewish Community & Learning Center of the Foothills



QUESTION: My grandson, age 7 who I’ll call Jimmy, has been diagnosed with ADHD. Although my daughter, who is a single mom, knows the little guy requires special attention and has been told numerous ways she can help him, she isn’t consistent. Thankfully I’m retired, so when he is with me, I do everything I can for him. We get along quite well and I help him with his homework that does require patience, but I love him and he’s worth the time I spend with him.


The problem is [when] he returns home and my daughter, who is tired after a day’s work, doesn’t keep the necessary boundaries, Jimmy either watches TV or plays video games. I so want Jimmy to overcome this problem, but at this time he’s not making much progress.


Is there a way I can convince my daughter to spend more time helping her son?

Dear Loving Granny,

Your grandson Jimmy is lucky to have you in his life. All children are better off with more adults looking after them, especially young people
with special needs. I have seen material recommending a standard routine for children with ADHD who often need help organizing their homework and meeting deadlines. I’m certain he benefits from the time you invest in his education and development of good study habits.

It’s likely your daughter is under a lot of stress and needs some relaxation time of her own. Perhaps there’s a way you can find more help for her.

Have all possible sources of help for your grandson been explored? His medical practitioners and school administrators should be working in coordination with the family to maximize Jimmy’s chances for the best possible outcome. He may be eligible for special tutoring, for example, which would take some pressure off the family. A limited amount of age appropriate TV or video gaming seems okay to me as long as homework is finished. There may even be educational video games that help him focus.

Have you and your daughter checked out support groups for those parenting ADHD children? That may be a source of good advice about local resources. If you are able, you can offer to spend more time with
Jimmy. In the end it may be that he will progress at his own pace regardless of the amount of intervention.

I hope you can accept that you have done all you can and continue to lovingly support Jimmy and his mom.
Wishing you and your family the best for the holidays.

 Sharon Weisman WEB 0505

Sharon Weisman


Humanist/Free Thinker


Loving Granny,

As a parent of special needs daughter, let me first thank you for your involvement in your grandson’s life. I am blessed because I have a wife who partners with me but not everyone has this advantage. Being a single parent is hard and made even harder when your child has a special need. By being there to help support and care for “Jimmy” you are providing a valuable relationship for him to rely on. In my experience many families are often overwhelmed and at wits’ end most of the time, especially when they work, then do the research for the best strategy for their child, and following through both at home and at school. I love your statement, “I love him and he’s worth the time I spend with him.” What a blessing for you both to have this relationship.

Okay, so now the issue, if I understand it, is that your daughter is working hard and is often tired at the end of the day, and so she does not hold to the appropriate boundaries for her son. This is a problem many families go through, for special needs children or typical children. But the good news is if Jimmy has an official diagnosis, there are resources to help. There are organizations that would be good places to get information. There are support groups and churches that have special programming. And there are other parents who are in the same boat who can share hints and strategies, sometimes through a chat group online or else where. The good news is the more you work on this now, the better things will be for all of you in the future.

The other good news is that you can form a closer relationship with your daughter as you go to these trainings or support groups or participate in online chat groups. By sharing findings and your feelings about what is being said, the two of you will be a dynamic duo in helping Jimmy become all he can be. I will say that is not easy work, it is not always work you feel like doing, and there are times you both will want to tear your hair out. That is all normal; the journey takes us places we did not think we would ever go. But when you take the risk to invest the time and the love there is a wonderful transformation that takes place.

I can’t imagine a life without my daughter and doing all we have done for her to thrive. She is my spiritual guide in so many ways.

Again thank you for your care and concern for Jimmy and your daughter. Blessings to you and your family as you travel this journey together.

 Pastor Steve Marshall WEB

Rev. Steve Poteete-Marshall

Crescenta Valley United Methodist Church


Again thank you for your care and concern for Jimmy and your daughter. Blessings to you and your family as you travel this journey together.

Rev. Steve Poteete-Marshall

Crescenta Valley United Methodist Church