Dear Margo: To Tell or Not To Tell

With a wedding just around the corner, should I tell my conservative parents about my past, liberal relationships?  Margo Howard’s advice

To Tell or Not To Tell

Dear Margo: My problem, if you could call it that, is that I am a bisexual woman. Not bisexual as in I’ve had the occasional drunken romp with a lady, but bisexual as in I’ve had girlfriends. My family is ultra-conservative, and I have a feeling that if I told them, I would not be allowed to see my nieces. I had to explain to my stepsister that homosexuality is a completely different animal from pedophilia, and I know where she got that idea: my parents. I have let on to my stepsister that I have fooled around with women, but have not told her the extent of it, and she has let it slip that she has done the same thing, as well, although I suspect she’s firmly in the “fooled around” category.

My parents are old and are against gay marriage with the highly refutable logic that “marriage is between a man and a woman.” I am getting married to a man next year and am worried that it may come out at the wedding. I have no problem telling my friends. It is just my family members in another city who don’t know, so the likelihood that it will slip is about 50-50.

My husband-to-be encourages me to tell them, but understands the quandary I am in. My deal is that if I am getting married to a man and intend to spend the rest of my life with him, isn’t it kinder to my parents to let them think their daughter is hetero, or am I letting the entire LGBT community down by not telling them and risking rest-of-my-life outcast status? Despite their views, they are the only family I know. — Not-so-Innocent Bistander

Dear Not: Because you say your parents are “ultra-conservative” and old (and benighted), I would not give them information that, in a way, is none of their business and would also disturb them greatly. There is nothing to gain. You are getting married, and that will give them pleasure — and you’re doing it in the way they understand: a man and a woman! I don’t think you are letting down the LGBT community. Your peers know, and more importantly, your husband-to-be knows, so let’s leave Mom and Dad in the 20th century where they are comfortable. — Margo, contentedly

Waking Up to Weed Whackers? No, Thank You.

Dear Margo: We are an older, retired couple who like to do our yard work in the summer during the cool morning hours. Starting at first light, around 6 a.m., is when we prefer to do our yard work. By 9 a.m., it is much too hot to continue working outside.  Our next-door neighbor, who we really like, has asked us not to do any yard work before 9 a.m. The noise from the weed whacker, edger and lawn mower wakes up their baby. What to do? — Up and at ‘Em

Dear Up: What to do — at 6 in the morning? Be quiet, for one thing. I, personally, would find making any kind of big noise outside “at first light” grounds for calling the police. I can tell you, having lived in southern California, that the sound of weed whackers is an awful, annoying sound at any hour.

I would hope you’d accede to your neighbor’s request, because common courtesy dictates no noisy anything before 9. I don’t know which desert you live in for it to be too hot to be outside at 9 in the morning, but if that is truly the case, I suggest you change your yard work schedule to perhaps 6 in the evening. — Margo, respectfully

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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


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103 comments so far.

  1. avatar animelily says:

    It’s nice to know I’m not the only bisexual in a monogamous straight relationship.
    If it helps the OP, I did tell my parents. My mother thinks I was just “experimenting” and my father still thinks homosexuality is a sin. It didn’t change their opinions, which didn’t exactly help the LBGTA community any.

  2. avatar D says:

    I am going to have to disagree with Margo regarding LW2.  I live in the Midwest.  I jog in the mornings because it is the coolest time of day.  My start time is around 5:30 AM.  At times this summer, the temperature at 5:30 AM has been in the low to mid eighties.  At 6 PM the temperature has been in the upper nineties and sometimes triple digits.  By the time it gets down to a manageable temperature, it is too dark to see anything.  I am assuming that this couple is not doing yard work everyday.  If I were the older couple, I would explain to the neighbor my reasons for morning yard work.  I would also tell them what days I am doing yard work so that the neighbor can be prepared.

    • avatar impska says:

      I agree. Of course we all know that 5:30am isn’t the best time for our neighbors, but there have been some weeks this Summer when the evenings are too hot. A few weeks ago, I was talking to my husband about whether or not to get up that early to do the yard work when I looked outside and saw our neighbors out with flashlights mowing the lawn in the dark at 9pm. We laughed and joked that it was one way to schedule it.
      But if we had a baby, 5:30am or 9pm would both be inconvenient times.
      The older couple should do their yard work in the evenings whenever possible, but the truth is, in the height of Summer, sometimes early morning is the only option when you can’t afford to hire someone to do it at a more convenient time. If the neighbors have that much of a problem with their scheduling, then they should offer to help the older couple out during an hour that works better with their baby’s sleep schedule.
      Sorry, but “We’re old, and that’s the only time we can manage it without help” is all they need to say. If their neighbor decides to be angry rather than help out, so be it.

      • avatar D C says:

        Impska – Perfect answer.  I  wonder if the young parents have a “silent when baby is sleeping” household.  My sister-in-law tried that back in the day, and my mother in law told her that was going to come back to bite her.  Babies get used to noises and can sleep through it if you expose them to it. 

    • avatar LuckySeven says:

      Yeah, but jogging is quiet.  I’m in south Texas, where it’s been 103 for the past two weeks, and have been jogging at 8:00 in the evening, but jogging doesn’t wake up the neighbors.  There is no way I would *dream* of running a motorized implement at such hours.
      If it’s too hot for them to do yardwork after 9:00 in the morning, they need to hire a temporary yard-man (I bet there’s a neighborhood teenager who can do it; they should ask at church, if they go, to see if someone is willing to do it for free or at a very reduced rate).  Weed whackers at 6:00 in the morning are unpardonable to those of us who are still managing family lives and have to run on work schedules.  Being old doesn’t mean you can do anything you want and play the elder card.

    • avatar GabbyM says:

      They also need to check their local bylaws. In my city, it is illegal to make noise before 8 AM on weekdays and 9 AM on weekends. Unless they want a visit from the police and a large fine from Bylaw services, they better check it out.

    • avatar JCF4612 says:

      Oh sure. Tell the baby not to expect to sleep in on mower and weedwacker morning!

      • avatar Jody says:

        I live in the Midwest as well… The Gateway City,  otherwise known as The Lou (home of the Arch).  Yes, the temperatures this summer have been agonizing at times.  However, I agree with Margo in regards to not running a weed-whacker or lawn mower, or anything else at ANY un-godly hour.  I understand it is possibly cooler at 6:00 am, but not everyone is an early bird.  And, aside from the young neighbors with the baby, my bet is everyone else is upset about it too, but have not said anything.  These days, I hear lawn mowers, weed-whackers, and blowers (which I do not understand the concept of blowing something around instead of scooping it up) EVERY DAY.  Not everyone is on the same schedule on my block.  I also have neighbors who work nights, and would appreciate a quiet sleep, without the dog barking incessantly 2 doors down and no one comes out to quiet him or take him inside.
        The only thing anyone should hear at 6:00 am are the birds singing.  Period.
        Maybe I need to consider living in a more rural area.  As I read this I think… my neighborhood, though charming… is quite noisy.  Ugh.
        Whatever the matter…. be polite….. it goes a long way.
        PS:  I REALLY hate leaf blowers.  They are noisy, waste gas, and only serve to blow stuff around.  I don’t get it.  Just get a rake and a leaf bag and scoop it up and put it in the bag.  How difficult is that?  Seriously.

    • avatar Carib Island Girl says:

      D: you are the reason neighborhood wars start.  If they can’t tolerate the heat, hire a lawnboy or desert scape, DO NOT intrude on your neighbor’s peace and quiet.  There is nothing worse than getting constantly woken up by a rude neighbor and that is just what this old couple are.  And yes, I’d call the cops or whoever if they kept it up.

    • avatar Lym BO says:

      I also live in the Midwest. There are a couple options here.
      1. Suck it up. If you drink plenty of water it won’t kill you to work at 0900. 
      2. If you really, really want to do your work at 0600 then there are these things you might have used when you were a young adult or teen-pre-whacker days  They’re still around.  They’re called clippers. I realize they don’t work quite as quickly and you might have to bend a bit but they do the job just fine & don’t require electricity or gas to run them. Nor do they annoy your neighbors or your lungs, hair, etc. And the bending and stretching might be good for you. 
      Good luck! 

    • avatar mmht says:

      Completely disagree with you.  I also live in the Midwest so I understand the issues with the heat, however, this is about being a courteous neighbor.  Many neighborhoods actually have enforced quiet hours to stop this sort of thing from happening.  To insist on doing noisy yard work very early in the morning after you have been requested not to, and for a very valid reason, is just plain rude and inconsiderate. 

  3. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    Letter #1:  Hetero/bi/homo sexual history is no one’s business but your own.  If you choose to share it with your future spouse, it is your decision but in my mind not obligatory.    In my day *conservative* parents meant that they expected their daughters to be virgins when they married.  I’m pretty sure that my conservative but  intelligent parents knew when I married at age 32 that I was not a virgin but they didn’t ask and I didn’t tell.  I don’t know why you think you owe the LGT community anything at all.  (If anything, your choosing to marry a man could be construed as *selling out*).  I suspect your parents know more than you think they know and have decided to keep their own counsel.  But, if they don’t,know your past sexual history,  I don’t see why you feel the need to tell them you had prior lovers who were girls anymore than you would tell them of all your former male lovers.  Who tells their parents the details of their sex life?  As for others *bringing up the issue* at your wedding…well there are always one or two boorish wedding guests who want to put a turd in your punchbowl just to be mean.  If its not over your former sex life, it would be some other *transgression*.  Most guests ignore the party poopers. recognizing them for the mean spirits they are.   Congratulations, enjoy your day, and look forward not back. 

    Letter #2:  I hate heat.  Live in Dallas, Texas in the summer without A/C (as I did in 1974) and you will be a Scarlette O’Hara claiming *I will never be hot again*.  And for me…hot is 70 plus degrees.  I don’t wear a coat in winter unless it is below 20 and then there has to be a huge wind.  That said…six am is too early to be making motor noises in your neighborhood.  I sympathize with your need to do your lawn work while it is cooler but my heart goes out to your neighbors who are not early risers (as I get older I rise earlier but the rest of the world does not). Of course, if you are up at 6 AM you are p robably in bed at 7 or 8 pm so doing the work afer 6 pm is not an option for you.  Hire a lawn service, do the work after 9 AM or after 6PM. 

    As much as I hate heat, I hate to be awakened by obnoxious noises more.  I am fully supportive of the Komen Foundation and the race for the cure.  Because I live in a *city within a city* which is all residential and has 20 mph speed limits, my neighborhood is ideal for the annual Race for the Cure.  It us usually on a Saturday morning in the fall.  My house is near the starting point where they want to jazz everyone up.  The way they have chosen to do so is with a big bass drum which repeats itself for an hour or more starting at 8 AM.  Even if I am awake before the drum starts…the sound is enough to make me want to stick a key in my eye.  Windows closed,  concrete walls and all, that big bass drum just keeps pounding.    For 2 or 3 years we thought someone in charge would wise up and ditch the darn drum.  Didn’t happen.  We complained.  The past few years the drum has not been an issue (they may have moved it down the road).  

    Well, at least we don’t have wind farms next door.   

    • avatar Barbara says:

      Well said on both counts.
      Why on earth would anyone bring up the subject at a wedding?  The point is to celebrate the occasion at hand.  No reason to discuss your sex life with your parents at all.
      If it is so hot that you can’t use your power tools, how can your grass, bushes and other plantings be growing so much they need such early morning vigilance?  It sounds to me as if your neighbors have been quite polite in their request for a peaceful morning.  I’d say either find another schedule or landscape with lower maintenance plantings so you don’t have to garden in the middle of the night.

    • avatar Anais P says:

      Bisexuality/homosexuality IS an obligatory subject to share with a spouse if the person is a man. Sadly, HIV and AIDS have disproportionately affected the gay community. If it is a man who is marrying and he has had gay encounters, he needs to be tested for STDs before marriage so he does not put his wife at risk. I know of at least one case where the husband did not tell his wife-to-be of his gay encounters. They married, and he  infected her with AIDS. She nursed him until he died; later, so did she. Telling can make the difference between life and death.

      • avatar Mandy McNalis says:

        Citation please.  Your anecdotal evidence of “I know of at least one case…” doesn’t count.

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        “I know of at least one case where the husband did not tell his wife-to-be of his gay encounters”
        How tragic. I bet there are examples where the man (or woman) became HIV+ as well through heterosexual sex too, and then infected their partner. Knowing such things can make the difference between coming off as informed, or a paranoid bigot.

      • avatar Carrie A says:

        If anyone, be it a man or a woman, is getting married and has had previous sexual encounters with people of either gender they should be tested for STDs and AIDS.  That just makes sense because, FYI, it is just as possible to get STDs and/or AIDS from heterosexual sex.

      • avatar BeanCounter says:

        Just so you know, you don’t “infect someone with AIDS”.   by definition, it’s a “syndrome”, not a disease.   HIV is the virus.  You can infect someone with HIV, not AIDS.  lol.   by the way, we all die one day, and I know many gay men who are living their lives in better health with HIV than most of my family members who are compulsive “packs a day” smokers or grossly obese.  it’s not the death sentence it used to be, and I suspect your image of the disease is that of the 1980’s….when it was a relatively quicker death sentence.   Also, your comment about the gay community and AIDS has zero bearing on the letters written to Margo.   The LW#1 is a woman who was in lesbian relationships which has a significantly reduced risk of STD’s.  

      • avatar P S says:

        Re-read the letter. She HAS told her husband, as evidenced by her saying he encourages her to disclose her sexual orientation to her parents. It’s the PARENTS who are at the center of the dilemma.

  4. avatar etiennewestwind says:

    I know squat about deserts, but in mid-Missouri, the humidity usually guarantees that 6 pm is at least as bad as 9 am.  And the humidity can be stifling at 4 am, especially if we’ve had a substantial amount of rain and/or rivers swollen to near flood stage to due to heavy rain and flooding up north like this year.  However, as someone who works nights and knows just how annoying lawn mowers and weed whackers are, I would never dream of starting them at 6 am.  In my neighborhood, 8 am is usually considered acceptable.  The key to yardwork is plenty of hydration breaks, and if its really bad and you’re not used to working outside, not to do all of it in the same day.  Which due to my work schedule and the frequent thunderstorms we had for a while there is how my back yard didn’t get mowed for six weeks this summer.   (Back yard is not seen by as many people and has less crab grass anyway.)  As LW2 and spouse are not just arriving home after ten-hour shifts at 9 am, I imagine they have more free mornings to do the work.  
    Now, not all people handle heat as well as others, and I believe that as you get older it can hit you more.  So if the couple in question  truly can’t work after 9, and don’t want/can’t afford a lawn service, it might be time to take up the time honored tradition of paying the reliable neighborhood teen to do the work.  
    I’m not sure what to say about LW1, except that I wonder why she’s so sure her parents would automatically believe anything said by people they don’t know over her.

  5. avatar Nikki Sunset says:

    I live in Phoenix where the summer temperatures are always above 100 and often over 110 so i symptathize about the joys and comforts of erly morning gardning. Nevertheless, in my neighborhood no one would even think of using noisy devises iin their yard before 8:30 or so. It is even possible that our community association forbids it. 

    Homeowners have the legal right to ‘quiet enjoyment”. It is selfish of you to destroy their joy of home ownership just to suit your comfort and/or desires. 

    You have seveal choices. Get someone else to do your summer yard work at a reasonal hour- after 9 am. Or do it yourself after 9 am. If you choose to be a bad neighbor and ignore their polite request, the next person to explain the rights of quiet enjoyment to you may be your local police. 

    • avatar Carib Island Girl says:

      Well said Nikki!  I lived in Phx too and would never think of making such noise at those hours. 

  6. avatar Briana Baran says:

    L#1: I am bi-sexual. I am in a completely monogamous hetero marriage of 17 years. It isn’t anyone’s business, including that of the LGBT community, whom you’ve had for a lover in your previous life (and not all members of the latter group consider it to be “selling out” to find an opposite sex partner…those who do are just as bigoted as someone who thinks that being gay is a curable disease or a sin). It is wonderful that your fiance knows and accepts you as you are…my husband is the same. I have two dear friends, and one sister who know…and who accept…but I’ve also lost friends by telling them.
    My mother “knows”, but I don’t think she really understands. In the case of your parents, the best advice really is to leave the “sin” unconfessed. They are not likely to change their convictions at this stage of their lives, and the revelation could very well cause a rift between you and them at a time when you should be feeling happiness, and they, delight and satisfaction in your marriage. If someone says something at your wedding, it’s unfortunately true, there is always someone at a wedding willing to try to make a scene. It’s up to you to refuse to enable them.
    L#2: I live in Houston, Texas. When it’s in the triple digits during the day, it’s sometimes in the high eighties at 6 am…and sometimes not…but the humidity can be cloying, and there really isn’t a good time for yard work. I grew up in the Chicago area…and the same holds true for summers there, and all over the Midwest. However, in the desert states such as Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico, and also parts of California, temperatures can vary enormously from 6 am to 9 am…so much so that one may need a jacket in the early hours…and be unable to even use the swimming pool in the early afternoon because of the tremendous heat.
    I think that 6 am is very early to be doing yard work, especially with weed whackers and leaf blowers in operation. These machines produce some of the most high decibel and atrocious noises of any convenience tools ever invented. But suggesting to the LW that he get a yard service is specious at best. Depending on where one lives, these can be very expensive (and no, it isn’t going to be the boy from down the street…this is actually a job that adults do). It is a very different thing to go jogging than it is to be running the full compliment of yard machines. One is silent…the other qualifies as noise pollution…even during full daytime hours. 
    I have a solution…but I’m sure that the LW won’t like it, and that there will be screams of protest. If he must do his yard work at 6 am, go retro. Use a rake, weed cutter and a hoe to get those weeds, and a push broom to clear the drive and sidewalks. A hand edger works nicely on the lawn…and the wire never tangles, you don’t need an electric cord, or, alternatively, to fill it with gasoline. None of these stir up the horrible dust, and emit the fumes and exhaust that the power-driven varieties do, and they are virtually silent. Save mowing for last…and use an electric mower if your lawn isn’t huge, as they are much quieter, lighter, and easier to manage. Drink lots of water.
    O, you’re too old and out-of-shape for this? Well, you said you were “older”, not old, and yard work with hand tools is an excellent way to stay fit, dust and fumes are terrible for you and the environment, and for that sweet baby. It’s the best solution that I can come up with…and just a thought for you…I did our yard work…push lawnmower, hand edger, push broom and hoe…when I was 38 and pregnant with my younger son. In the Houston summer. Kept me in excellent shape, had a healthy baby…and no noise or dust. And we have a rotten, bumpy, lumpy lawn and huge driveway, and many pine trees that drop thousands of needles.
    Just some thoughts.

    • avatar Florafloraflora says:

      Yes!  I was just coming here to give roughly the same advice to LW#2, that maybe they can give the weedwhacker and power edger (?!) a rest during the hot summer months, if not forever.  Hearing, and smelling the fumes from, one of those things next door at any hour would be just about enough to ruin my day.  

      I agree with your response to LW#1 as well: no point riling up homophobes, who are unlikely to change their minds, at a time when family harmony will make your life a lot easier.

    • avatar butterfly55 says:

      I’m in Houston also and there has been one death this summer of a yard worker due to the heat (and he wasn’t elderly).  So I am on the side of the LW2, it is very hot out there at 8, we’ve been setting records all summer.  My solution, let the neighbors do the lawn work when they do their own since they don’t like the time it is done by this couple.

      • avatar Carrie A says:

        If someone is so dumb they will work in their yard until they die I don’t feel sorry for them. I’ve had heatstroke and it’s not instant death; there are signs and there is time to do something about it. And the neighbors don’t need to do the LW’s yardwork just because they want to be so rude as to use a weed whacker at 6 a.m. They can do the quiet stuff at 6 and use the noisy things later as weather permits. If their lawn is looking less than perfect, well, it’s just a lawn.

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        This has to be the most intelligent reply yet.

    • avatar Rita@ Goldivas says:

      Good advice, Briana! I was thinking the same thing, why do these people feel they must use all those power tools?

  7. avatar impska says:

    LW2: There is something else I would suggest for this couple: if it is truly so hot that mornings are the only time to mow the lawn, then they should cut irrigation to the bare minimum. Let the lawn go dormant, and stop feeding the weeds (assuming a cool season grass). Yes, your lawn may look yellow until it springs back to life in autumn, but it will significantly cut down on mowing and the weed whacker/edger will be all but unnecessary. Your county extension is a very helpful resource for lawn care.
    While I sympathize with you about needing to mow early morning – I sympathize with your neighbors about the weed whacking and edging. Whatever you decide, it is highly unlikely that lawn perfection is worth prolonging their suffering. Not only can you cut it down to once a month or less, there is no reason you have to do it all at the same time, and the weed whacking/edging can be done after dinner if it needs to be done at all.

    • avatar etiennewestwind says:

      Let the lawn go dormant, and stop feeding the weeds (assuming a cool season grass). Yes, your lawn may look yellow until it springs back to life in autumn, but it will significantly cut down on mowing and the weed whacker/edger will be all but unnecessary.

      That’s also assuming cooperative weather and weedsMy grass is dormant, however the crab grass is still going strong.  I do hope that spraying a different brand of crab grass control early next spring will do more than slaughter dandelions, but in the meantime, the lawn still needs to be mowed once a week so the crab grass height doesn’t get out of control. 

      • avatar Shannon R says:

        Go to your local farm and garden store and buy MSMA for crab grass.  It works way better than anything you will find at Lowe’s and Home Depot, is much cheaper, and also kills weeds. 

      • avatar etiennewestwind says:

        Thanks for the tip, Shannon.  I’ll definitely try it.

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  9. avatar Koshie says:

    For LW#2 Perhaps instead of working on the yard, maybe if it is possible to hire a landscaper and have them do it in the afternoon or once a week or so. I know it can be expensive but the lw didn’t say he couldn’t afford it. Also there maybe discounts and coupons available for the services. It is worth the look. I live in a very hot climate so I understand. The other morning at 5:30 am it was already 90 with the it feeling like 101. But I would be very annoyed at the noise so early in the morning.

  10. avatar megan210 says:

    LW2- 6am is WAY too early to be doing yardwork that involves noisy machinery. I hate hot weather and like to do outdoor chores that early as well, but I do weeding by hand or other jobs that don’t require anything noisy. I realize that most people aren’t up as early as I am, and I try to be considerate of that.
    And as a mom of a 6-month-old, I guarantee that if you’re waking up your neighbors’ baby that early on a regular basis, you’re not going to be on good terms with them for much longer.

  11. avatar reeledge says:

    Why would anyone discuss any of their sexual past, present or future with their parents?  I don’t want to hear anything about my parents sexual lives and I am sure they don’t want to hear about mine.

    • avatar Nikki Sunset says:

      I don’t think she wanted to share. I think she is concerned that one of her guest will have the poor taste to make a reference to having been a girlfriend or lover. Or the bride having had girlfriends.

      But that person would have to be a real boor to say these things in front of the parents. In which case why is she inviting boors to her wedding and making potentially then happiest day of her life more stressful?
      Why not contact everyone that knows in advance and request that as a favor to her they be discreet.

      I fail to see why she is more concerned about being ‘true’ to the GLBT community than she is about damaging her relationship with her parents.  Can’t have it both ways. Gotta choose. 

  12. avatar Michelles11 says:

    LW1…why in world would you tell your parents, much less anyone else. Let them be.

    LW2I live in the midwest too, I know how hot and humid it can get around here, but I have neighbors that work until 6 or 7 in the morning and people with babies.  I’m up at 5am every day and would never dream of dragging the lawn mower or weed wacker out before 830 or 9 am regardless of other peoples’ schedules.  We do tend to do the noisy yardwork after dinner when the sun starts to go down, it’s just common courtesy isn’t it?  And try telling a baby that it can’t be up at 2 am for 2 or 3 hrs because the neighbors plan on mowing at 6am and he or she needs sleep…the baby doesn’t care.

    • avatar LuckySeven says:

      I was going to say: Unless the elderly neighbors are going to also be soothing the baby’s fussing when it’s awake all night, they need to shelve the weed-whacker and get yard help.
      I play the fiddle, and I’m a night owl.  I don’t *think* it can be heard much outside of my house, but I’m not sure, so I don’t play it late in the evening because my elderly neighbors go to bed much earlier than I do, and I wouldn’t want to bother them.  If you insist on weed-whacking at ungodly hours, don’t complain when the neighbors’ teenagers’ garage bands are practicing until midnight.

  13. avatar Babbalou says:

    Regarding letter 1, I really do not understand the need to share details of past romantic or sexual relationships with anyone else.  This is especially true as the writer approaches her wedding.  I think it’s quite odd that the fiance recommends discussing this with her elderly parents.  I agree with Margo, please spare them the details. 

    Regarding letter 2, while I understand the desire to avoid lawn work in the heat of the day, there is no pass on common courtesy (or exception to noise ordinances) extended to you due to advanced age.  You can do your lawn work in short spurts when it is hot or you can do it without noisy power tools while your neighbors are sleeping.  Alternately you can hire a service.   The fact that your neighbor asked you to stop waking them up early in the mornings with noisy power tools and you respond by writing to Margo asking for advice is rather shocking to me.  I’m glad you’re not MY neighbor!         

  14. avatar kchick28 says:

    For LW2… I think the neighbors are being a bit touchy. Doesn’t it stand to reason that if you live in an atmosphere where it’s hot enough to not do yard work by 9am, that everyone would likely have the windows closed and AC running? If that’s the case, a weed whacker can’t be THAT loud. Perhaps a fan or white noise machine in the baby’s room would be helpful. Though, this is from the girl who slept through my road being torn up and resurfaced.

    • avatar etiennewestwind says:

      Doesn’t it stand to reason that if you live in an atmosphere where it’s hot enough to not do yard work by 9am, that everyone would likely have the windows closed and AC running? If that’s the case, a weed whacker can’t be THAT loud.
      Depends on what the house walls are built of.  As a shift-worker I have blackout curtains over my bedroom windows, that aside from blocking out ninety-nine percent of light, also muffle sounds through the closed windows.  It doesn’t stop me from occasionally being woken by kids walking past on their way from the bus stop.  And as excited and wound up as kids tend to be when they’ve gotten out of school, they rarely compete with lawn equipment. 

      • avatar Mjit RaindancerStahl says:

        You’re assuming that everyone has A/C. and the two fans in my attic bedroom do a crappy job of drowning out the school buses driving by my house, let alone the neighborhood lawn equipment.
        If LW#2 really wants to do yardwork at first light, *they* should watch the baby.

      • avatar etiennewestwind says:

        You’re assuming that everyone has A/C.
        Good point.  Around here ACs are almost standard, but it’s not unheard of for people to try to go without. 

  15. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #1: Why do you feel an obligation to “the entire LGBT community”? How many of your friends in that community are going to be there when your parents have a meltdown? When your marriage is tense and filled with anger, or your parents don’t show up? Your peace of mind and **personal business** AREN’T the business of either your parents OR “the entire LGBT community”! You are an adult, who has been a consenting adult. The only other person who should matter in this is your fiancee; he accepts your past and you’re building on a future together. If anyone “outs” you on your wedding day, they are NOT your friend. Ultimately it’s NO ONE’S BUSINESS either way (parents/extended family or “the entire LGBT community”). Your fiancee is okay with everything, AND ONLY HE AND YOU MATTER. You don’t owe other people any explanation of your sexual or “playing around” history. And if they pressure you or try to convince you that you must step up, out, forward…tell them to go take a high dive off a low board!

    • avatar Cindy Marek says:

      Correction: “When your marriage is tense and filled with anger…”
      I meant to say “When your WEDDING DAY is tense and filled with anger” (by non-understanding parents)

  16. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #2: Find some *quiet* chores to do? A baby must get its sleep. Your neighbor’s request is reasonable. I’m an early bird too, btw.

  17. avatar Katie themick says:

    6 is a bit early but most cities have noise ordinances. You should be in the clear by 7am though. If you’re not doing it every single day (who needs to edge that much?), you could give your neighbor a heads up the night before.
    That said, a lawnmower is so loud that it’s going to wake your baby? If it’s that hot, shouldn’t your kid be in a room with an air conditioner humming away, anyway?

    • avatar etiennewestwind says:

      That’s never stopped me from being awakened by lawn mowers that aren’t even in adjacent lawns.

  18. avatar Kathy says:

    “I am getting married to a man next year and am worried that it may come out at the wedding”.  Really?  I have never attended a wedding during which the bride or groom’s past sexual relationships are recounted for the guests.  It would be offensive and inappropriate regardless of the gender.     Lots of people have “interesting” sex lives and they don’t feel the need to share it with others, and don’t have fiances who insist on it. They both need to get over themselves.  Who they slept with in the past is nobody’s business.  Regarding early-morning gardening:  Who uses a weed whacker or mower every day?  We have a very well-kept yard and we mow once a week, whack weeds every other third week or so, and edge once a month.  You simply watch the forecast and do you “noisy” yard work in the early evening on a day it’s not quite so stifling. 

  19. avatar Deborah Key says:

    I have to ask where Margo has been summering?  Its been brutal here in TN; I can’t walk my dog after 8 am.    I’m with the people trying to do their yardwork. 

    • avatar JCF4612 says:

      And I’m with the working parents of a baby trying to get a decent night’s sleep. So what if the couple’s yard gets a little ragged. Hire a lawn crew if heat after 9 a.m. is so intolerable. Definitely, no weed-wackers just after dawn should be tolerated. What ignorance for anyone who would even inquire about the propriety!

    • avatar Carib Island Girl says:

      And I’m with not being woken at ungodly hours by rude neighbors.  Glad your aren’t my neighbor Deb.

  20. avatar Pat Lang says:

    Obviously, Margo, you’ve never been in Texas during the summer. Texas summers are brutal. Especially August. And that’s in a “normal” year. This year isn’t normal, my area had 41 straight highs-in-the-triple-digits days. Almost broke the 1980 record of 42 straight days of triple digit temperatures. The nighttime lows are mid 80s, many times it’s still over 100 at 10 PM. By 9 AM it’s at best high 90s. Walking outside past early morning means walking into a furnace.

    Aside from the fact I like to still be sleeping at 6 AM, that really is too early. Seven should be the earliest you’re out there with powered lawn equipment. Depending on your schedule, maybe do it over several days.
    There are compromises – assuming all parties want to be reasonable and compromise.

  21. avatar katie29lvh says:

    Am I the only person here who realizes that push mowers are all but silent? Doesn’t this seem the perfect compromise? My neighbor is a senior citizen who still uses her push mower to this day! No gas to fill, no horrible noises, and if you maintain your yard with it regularly, it really takes about the same effort to push it as a much heavier gas mower. These people most likely don’t have HUGE yards, so maybe they should think about going green and getting a push mower. You can mow at 5am or midnight even by the light of a full moon with a push mower and not disturb anyone. Just my two cents.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      I suggested a push mower, rake, push broom, and old fashioned, long-handled, hand edger. I’ve lived in Houston for 28 years, and used all of these implements (even when pregnant, at the age of 38) in triple digit weather. I got a reply sympathizing with LW2 from another reader who lives in Houston, and thinks that working people with an infant should bend their schedule around retirees with nothing but free time.
      I also am an early riser…not by choice…but DH gets up at 5 am to go to work, and likes a kiss good-bye, and the kid gets up an hour later for school. I still wouldn’t use loud yard equipment before 8 am on weekdays, and 9 am on the weekends. It’s called common courtesy. We have a very well built house. I never hear the lawn mower, and I am a very light sleeper. We never believed in the “silenced environment” for our children…even our autistic son. But weed whackers and leaf blowers are two of the most annoying, and the loudest, power tools ever invented. I can hear them in use from three doors down, and that’s with all windows closed and the air conditioning running. The decibel level from leaf blowers can actually be damaging to the ears.
      I’ve known quite a few senior citizens in my time who used no power implements at all for yard work. I personally find it pleasurable to use a rake and broom (I hate the exhaust and dust from blowers and mowers). It is awesome exercise. I am no kid at 52 years old. If my neighbors had a new baby and jobs, I would fully understand their need for rest, especially if I was retired.
      As for all of this kvetching about the heat…the weather is one of the few things that the government hasn’t figured out how to control. In a lot of places, it gets really, really hot in the summer. What a shocking surprise. It’s been doing this for a while. I remember being a child, in Chicago, and not having anything but a single window A/C unit. Which was turned off at night. In August, the daytime temperatures were in the high 90’s, and sometimes triple digits, the humidity was awe inspiring, and there was no breeze. None. We lived through it. People went out during the day.
      Amazingly, people still do. It’s been over 100 degrees here, and I see people outside…not dying. Old, young, and in between. It’s actually pretty dim to be worrying about the lawn beyond keeping up with deed covenants in weather like this (especially day time watering)…because extreme heat makes the grass brown. That would be nature’s way, folks. But people walk, stroll, bike, jog, garden…everything…with their water bottles beside them. Phooey on “Wah, it’s too hot”.
      In a few months, it will be, “Wah, it’s too cold”. Oy, vey.

    • avatar GardenGnome says:

      Exactly, Katie!  If they don’t like using a push mower, then they could invest in an electric mower and an electric weed eater.  We have both, and while not completely silent, they certainly are less disruptive; and with windows closed, they are barely audible.

  22. avatar K Coldiron says:

    LW1: I agree with Margo’s advice, to just let it be, but a bunch of posters are talking about how her sexual history is none of anyone’s business. That’s true. It’s not her sexual history; it’s a piece of her identity that we’re talking about. She’s not talking about explicating escapades to her little old grandmother, she’s talking about “This is who I am” to her family.

    LW2: I’m sorry, but you’re doing yard work too early in the morning for neighbors with a baby (or anyone else who goes to bed after 8 PM). I am an early riser too and even I couldn’t imagine how awful it would be to be awakened by a weed-whacker more mornings than not. You’re going to have to find another solution.

  23. avatar Jrz Wrld says:

    I’m a big fan of being “out” – under the belief that the more LGBT folk who are open, the more people will realize that they have them in their lives and that it’s NOT deviant. In the LW’s case, I’d say don’t bother to tell them, but if they find out at the wedding … oh well. Deal with it then.
    As for LW2, I’m an early riser by nature and necessity (work demands) and frequently find myself at loose ends at 4:30 am with nothing to do. Yet, I would never dream of doing any sort of yard work before 9 am, because I have a modicum of respect for my neighbors. If you want to do such things, you buy a house far away from anyone else. Or you work in the evening. Or you hire a crew. This is one of the things about living among other people – you have to accommodate them when they’re not being unreasonable. Wanting their infant to have a good night’s sleep isn’t unreasonable.

  24. avatar mnn2501 says:

    Obviously a lot of you, including Margo has never lived in the deep south.
    Yard work between 6AM and 9AM is normal. It does NOT cool down at night in the deep south like it dioes in the north (I’ve lived in both). To tell them to wait until 8PM is stupid because the temps are still right around 100. Last night the temp at 9 PM in Northern Texas was 98F after a 106F day — do you want your grandparents out doing yard work in that temp? At 6AM this morning it was only 83F by 9AM it was 95F
    While I sympathize with the couple with the baby, to tell an old person to wait until after 9AM is showing your ignorance of different geographic locations. Perhaps the older couple could let the babies parents know when they will be doing noisy yardwork the following morning and the young couple could have the baby at the other end of the house.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      O, horse patooties. My ex in-laws are from Gedston and Pea Ridge, Alabama, respectively…and would never dream of being disrespectful of working young neighbors with a new baby by running weed whackers and lawn mowers at 6 am because it might be too hot later. They never even ran their A/C unless it got into the high 90’s, nor did my FIL’s brother who spent most of his life in Atlanta. And my best friend’s (growing up) mother grew up in Talahassee Florida, and she loved the heat and did all her outside work right in the middle of it. Most of the “Deep South” Southerners I’ve known are very thoughtful, considerate people as well. What town do you hail from?
      And, as I’ve said, I’ve lived 28 years in Houston, and lots of people do their outside work any old time of the day, regardless of the heat…and age does not seem to be a consideration. Speaking as a transplanted Chicagoan, it’s mostly Northerners from certain parts of the United States that do have cooler summers who have trouble adjusting to retirement in places such as Arizona and New Mexico. I never have had that particular issue. I like the heat. It is not impossible to function in it.
      For the older couple, the time they do their yard work is a convenience. For the couple with the baby, in which one or both probably work, rest is essential, and courtesy ought to be extended to them, as their time is not their own. I lean toward the greater compromise being made by the retired couple.

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        And again, the laws on the books favor the younger parents (not to mention the other neighbors) and don’t seem to give too much care about how hot it is outside.

      • avatar TheTexasMom says:

        I too live in Houston and we have had a record breaking summer and not in a good way.  On my drive in to work at 7 the temperture reads 80-85 then just climbs to triple digits.  At night it doesn’t register below 90 until after 10 or so.  HOWEVER, there is no friggin way anyone shoud be out doing yard work at 6am!!  Stop watering the yard, we are in a drough so let it go people, it’s just grass!  Don’t be like my mom watering every other day and complain the yard guy wants to come on Sunday morning and the neighbors are mad at you.   Just say no!!

        Yes, my windows are closed and the A/C is humming away but two weeks ago when I was ill and sleeping in I heard the yard guys at 8am.   I can only imagine having to deal with that on a regular basis.

      • avatar mnn2501 says:

        I’ll expect you over to mow my lawn this Saturday, shall we say 1PM?  Its only supposed to be 107F nothing for a tough cookie like you. Don’t forget to weed wack and edge.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        Darlin’, it was 108 at Bush Intercontinental yesterday afternoon, and I was out and running around in it all afternoon. My itty-bitty little car has really lousy A/C, so I only run it on the lowest setting. I don’t bother fighting for the closest parking place, because I’m washable. I walk a lot, and spend a lot of time, usually from noon to about 4 pm, at the neighborhood pool, which is warm as a baby’s bathwater, and has no shade. I like to swim and do water aerobics. I have a steel, refillable water bottle, and drink  a lot of water. I have not had heat stroke in the 28 years that I’ve lived here…regardless of the temperature being in double or triple digits. And I spent the first 20+ years of my life in Chicago, Illinois, where summer heat in August also climbs into triple digits. And…we do our own yard work, cooking, cleaning…etc.. How about that?
        I am getting my 14 year old up at 7 am to start the remainder of the yard work. He will do the hand work, raking, sweeping, etc., just like I have done, until about 9 am, then he will use the blower and mower (both the electric, less noisy varieties). Somehow, despite those o so terrible temps, he’s failed to have heat stroke as well.
        Could be you’re just a cracked Southern Belle with just a slightly hollow ring.

    • avatar Carib Island Girl says:

      I lived in Phx for decades and you are still way off base.  As other have pointed out, there really is no excuse for noise at that hour, pay a lawn service or use a push mower or rake.  The baby for me is a non-issue, you shouldn’t be waking your neighbors at godawful hours PERIOD.  This is how neighbor wars start.

  25. avatar staili says:

    I’m a little surprised that anyone thinks that making loud noises that you know bothers the neighbors at 6am is appropriate.  I could see if the LW wanted 8 or 8:30, but 6AM???  As others have said, that is just not something that you do as a courteous and thoughtful member of society.

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      Re LW2: I agree completely. I’d like to know exactly how many of the people who posted in favor of the couple actually get up at 6am to do yardwork at all, let alone because the temperature is more conducive. And guess what—by that logic, 5am is even cooler, so what’s stopping them from doing lawn work then? Oh, that’s right—PEOPLE (and not just babies) ARE STILL ASLEEP. And power tools have to be used every day? Sorry LW2—you’re not going to get permission/justification to be a selfish, bad neighbor (which is exactly what you’re trying to do) from me. There were noise laws created specifically because of people like you. I’d tell you to knock it off the first time, and call the cops on you the second. And I’d win.
      LW1: Telling your parents that you’ve had sex or a relationship with a girl is about as necessary as alerting them about the first time you and your current BF decide to try anal sex on the washing machine. In other words—it’s not necessary at all. And I seriously doubt that anyone is going to be some sort of spoiler on your wedding day. But if I’m wrong and they do—chalk it up due to the champagne, have a laugh and then never, ever speak to that person again. A wedding is a gathering for the relationship you have NOW and the person you are NOW, not the relationships you have had in the past and who you used to be. As for “owing” anything to the LGBT community—you owe it to yourself to deal with this issue in a way that is healthy, mature, timely and appropriate for you—and you alone.

      • avatar David Bolton says:

        And by the way—look up “worst time to mow” on the Internet. Almost every site I went to stressed that mowing dew-wet grass (i.e. early morning) was bad for both the grass and the mower. Early to mid-evening was cited as best if the weather is hot.