Dog Days | The Lazy Toddler | Bailey Loves Melissa

Dog Days

Dear Micah,

My son got a dog as a birthday present.  Against my wishes by the way.  Anyway, it is his responsibility to make sure the dog is fed and walked?  You can probably guess where this is going.  How can I teach my son to take care of his pet responsibly?

Hilda J.


Dear Hilda,

Good luck with that!  I can’t even get my little boy to stop throwing remotes in the toilet, but at least he’s little.  I have no idea how old your son is, so it’s hard to suggest anything, but here goes…

Let’s start with feeding the dog first.  Go through the whole “It’s your responsibility to make sure your dog eats every day,”  speech and be sure to add, “Just like it’s my responsibility to make sure that you eat every day.  I have to make sure that you have something to eat even before I get to eat.  That’s what a parent does and you are this dog’s parent.”  So now let’s flash forward to dinner time and the dog still has not been fed by your son.  As you set dinner on the table, place your son’s plate on the floor for Fido.  As your son starts freaking out simply say, “It’s your job to make sure he’s fed first.  Since you forgot to give him his dinner he has to eat yours.”  One night of that and I bet he won’t forget again.  However, if he does, do it again the next night.  Your son will grow tired of having to go fix himself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every night.  I hope it goes without saying that I expect that you will have secretly fed the dog earlier in the day.  Your son doesn’t have to know that the dog was fed earlier, and the dog will always eat the table food, so your plan won’t be derailed.

As for the walking part, take a similar action.  During the day when no one is home, lock the dog in your son’s room.  If the dog has an accident, let it be in there where your son will see first-hand why it’s important to walk a dog regularly.  If that’s a little drastic for you–trick him.  Pour a little water on his carpet, or favorite shirt that may be on the floor, or in his sneakers.  And if the dog poops indoors, gently pick it up and place it in your son’s room.  He’ll get the message!


The Lazy Toddler


Let me start off by saying that my daughter is perfectly healthy.  She doesn’t have any developmental issues.  Now to my worries.  I worry that my child may be behind other kids her age.  She’s two now and most of the other kids I know around her age speak more words than she does.  They also look to be more respondent to learning than she is.  She doesn’t pick things up as quickly.  I still can’t get her to even attempt repeating the ABC’s with me.  My sister tells me that I should put her in daycare full time, but my husband and I can’t afford that.  I’m a stay-at-home mom and I try to teach her things every day, but she still ends up spending a fair amount of time watching cartoons or kid programming while I do chores around the house.  Am I ruining her development by not having her go to school?  My doctor told me I’m worrying too much, but his kid isn’t the one falling behind everyone else.



Dear Paula,

Follow your doctor’s advice and stop worrying.  I understand how you feel.  My son is 17 months and I too have worried about whether he’s behind in some areas.  In many ways he’s ahead of other kids, and in some ways he seems to be lagging, but I just don’t worry about it.  If you think about it, it’s not that big a deal if your two-year-old isn’t saying the alphabet yet.  It’s not like she’s never going to learn it.  She’s not going to be 26 one day and be stumped as to what comes after the letter “J.”

Anything that your daughter is slow to learn will still be something she’ll already know by the time she needs it.  Take speech for example.  You said she lags behind in talking;  well, it’s highly doubtful that she’ll enter kindergarten and still not be saying words.  So don’t worry about it.  So far, my son has only mastered Daddy, Dog, Nana, Dat (that), No, Uh-huh, and Edith (he watches All in the Family every day–I’m not kidding, it’s his favorite).  Your daughter will say the words she is expected to say eventually and a time will come when you won’t be able to shut her up, so don’t stress about it.

The way I figure it is that some kids will be ahead of our kids in some areas and our kids will be ahead of those kids in other areas.  The real hope is that the kids all teach each other and eventually everyone’s even.  I don’t recall when I learned how to count to ten or how to spell my name.  I could have been 2 or 20–both ages were hazy for me–but I did learn.  Wouldn’t it be nice to go back in time to tell our own parents that they didn’t have to stress out over things like this either?  After all, we all eventually develop and learn what we need to know to prepare us for the school years.  Speaking for myself, I don’t see or feel any residual scars if other kids learned it all before I did.


Bailey Loves Melissa

Dear Micah,

Bailey is my 16-year-old son.  Bailey’s girlfriend Melissa must have some kind of mind control over him.  He doesn’t seem to be interested in anything but her.  He misses family meals.  He doesn’t come home until it’s too late to do anything but go to bed and whenever he is with us, he just sits and texts Melissa.  I don’t know how to reel him in and how his family is supposed to compete with this girl.  Any ideas of how to reign him in some?

Reaching My Limits


Dear Limit Reacher,

I am assuming that Bailey can drive since he’s coming in late.  If so, there’s an easy way to curb that behavior: take the keys!  Set some house rules, and if he breaks them, take the keys away.  It sounds to me like you have very little rules for conduct in your household.  Your son is coming and going as he pleases and isn’t participating in any family time.  That’s your fault, not Melissa’s.  He’s perfectly capable of having his romance with Melissa AND being present for a healthy dose of family bonding.

You just need to set up some guidelines and not budge on them.  He should have a curfew of 6 o’clock every night to be home for meal time–all family members’ phones should be turned off during dinner.  Homework should follow dinner and then he and Melissa can chat until bedtime on the phone.  On weekends, pick a time that is solely devoted to family–perhaps Sunday lunch–and allow him the rest of the weekend to spend as he wishes, providing your designated family time isn’t neglected.

If he doesn’t drive and instead walks to Melissa’s, my advice doesn’t change really.  Now, let me also warn you that you might need to speak with Melissa’s parents and get them on the same page with you.  They are probably just as sick of your son being around all of the time as you are sick of his world revolving around Melissa.  I bet they’d welcome a break of Bailey not being around so that they can experience their own family time.  Have Melissa’s parents join you in your efforts by giving Bailey reminders when needed.  “Bailey, it’s 5:30 and you’re supposed to be home in time for dinner at 6.”  You’ll need their help at first until Bailey and Melissa get used to having some of this freedom curtailed.  They may even decide to give their daughter their own set of rules which might offer you even more time with your son.

Oh, and my last piece of advice…you cannot compete with Melissa.  Bailey is a teenage boy consumed with a teenage girl, but you can make family time a little more attractive to him by planning some fun activities.  Have movie nights, or go out to play paintball on Saturdays or something that might lure a teen boy back to the fold.  If family time just consists of your family sitting around a TV, you stand no chance against Melissa.

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