27 Oct

Letterbalm ParakeetsDear LetterBalm: Our daughter-in-law loves birds. She has several, including two parrots, a cockatoo and parakeets. She had them before she married our son. They aren’t interested in having children, so the birds are very important to them. My husband and I didn’t have a problem with this until we visited. They don’t have a special room as an aviary for the birds, and they let them fly free. Their apartment is a dirty mess with droppings, food and feathers everywhere. The birds land on the table and eat from their mouths and plates. Our son is uneasy around us – I think he’s self-conscious about the condition of their home. After we were there, my husband had an allergic reaction to the bad air and conditions there, so we can’t visit anymore. How can I talk to my son about all this? We’re really worried.

–A Big Flap

Ms. L.B.’s friends will tell you she’s an avid bird-lover and bridles at the use of “bird brain” as an insult. This doesn’t change the fact that your son and his wife are living in dangerous circumstances. Birds can transmit serious illnesses to humans. Birds and people shouldn’t be mouth-beak kissing or eating – too many germs get passed between both species.  Plus, noxious particles in the air, including bird feces, aren’t good for human lungs. But none of this will sway your son and his wife – they’ve gone to the birds, as it were. Take your son out for coffee or lunch and reassure him you’ll always be there for him and his bird-loving spouse:

Bobby, it was good to see you and Alice – you know we’ve wanted to get together with both of you for some time. But you must know that your dad and I were surprised at the condition of your apartment. It’s good that you and Alice are so devoted to your birds – and they are certainly clever and beautiful creatures. But it can be said that the birds have taken over your life too much. And, you must know the health dangers from letting them eat from your plate and mouth. You’re not a stupid person; you know the risks. We’ll have to confine our get-togethers to our house because your dad had an allergic reaction to the birds when we were with you. But no matter what, we just want you to know we love you both and we’ll be there for you if you ever need us.


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