Tuesday, April 06, 2010

PJ O'Rourke

On kids and dogs.

As my family was growing, I got a lot of excellent advice about discipline, responsibility, respect, affection, and cultivation of the work ethic. Unfortunately this advice was from dog trainers and was directed to my dog. In the matter of child rearing there was also plenty of advice, all of it contradictory—from family and family-in-law, wife, wife’s girlfriends, pediatricians, nursery school teachers, babysitters, neighbors and random old ladies on the street, plus Dr. Spock, Dr. Phil, and, for all I know, Dr Pepper: Spank them/Don’t spank them. Make them clean their plate/Keep them from overeating. Potty train them at one/Send them to Potty Training Camp at fourteen. Hover over their every activity/Get out of their faces. Don’t drink or smoke during pregnancy/Junior colleges need students too. And none of this advice works when you’re trying to get the kids to quit playing video games and go to bed.
It took me years to realize that I should stop asking myself what I’m doing wrong as a parent and start asking myself what I’m doing right as a dog handler.

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