I was clicking through various links and news stories and such this morning and I came across this Dear Abby letter [Non-SSL link] that made me stare and ask myself, "What the hell kind of snowflake are these people raising?" If you don't feel like clicking, here's the letter:
Dear Abby: I have a beautiful wife, a dog and an 8-year-old son with whom I love to watch sports. My son loves sports, but he has trouble accepting a loss. He takes out his disappointment by beating the dog.
My wife doesn’t want to get rid of “Patches,” because she has had him since college. I don’t want to put my son through counselling, because he says he’ll hate me forever if I do. I’m afraid that, if the problem isn’t controlled, his life goals will be affected. What can I do?
— Good Dad in Cleveland
Abby's response was that the kid needs counselling and that animal abuse can lead to harming other kids. I personally think that she might have understated the issue a little. It can not only lead to harming other kids, but it can speak to serious psychological problems. Think Dr. Lecter.
While there are almost always better options than spanking, it may be that this child needs to learn what it feels like to be hit. At the very least, it's not that difficult to help teach a kid that it's acceptable to lose now and then. That losing and doing better next time help build the drive to succeed and to understand that we cannot get our own way all of the time. It's possible that the parents have spoiled the child and are now dealing with the consequences.
The dad's right that his kid's life goals will be affected if the behaviour doesn't change, but his proposed solution of getting rid of the dog won't solve a thing. There will be someone or something else to beat on. Dear Abby advice is not always the best, but in this case, I certainly hope this parent listens. It'd probably be a good idea if the parents got some counselling too: It's required to show children affection, but you aren't there to facilitate every whim. You're there to guide and teach them how to be decent human beings.