Carolyn: Three generations of family —18 people — have rented a large house for vacation. Two of the couples want to bring dogs, but one person does not want any dogs because their child is afraid of them. One dog has had incidents with some of the kids, the other dog is friendly.
The house has more than enough space. If precautions are taken by the dog owners to keep the kids safe, is it still appropriate that one person can dictate the dog policy? Should only the dangerous dog be banned, or both? Does it make a difference if each couple is chipping in equal amounts to the rental cost?
Bring Dog or Not?
Family is your purpose here. Foisting dogs on others doesn’t serve that purpose, because a dog-fearing child won’t fully relax with a dog in the house.
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In fact, even if there weren’t a fearful child on-site, bringing dogs into a busy group setting when not all 18 want them there becomes an advancement of a dog owner’s self-interest above group interest; I am a dog person from nose to tail and even I can’t see what that accomplishes. I love you, Chuckles, but no.
That alone should seal it. But when you do factor in the dog fear, it’s not just “one person” dictating a no-dogs policy: The child’s parent will have to devote unrelaxed mental acreage to where the dogs are at any given time, as will the dogs’ owners, not to mention anyone else aware there’s an issue.
That said, this is nonnegotiable for parents of dog-fearing kids: Do not let your kids remain stunted by this fear. It’s a safety and social issue. Talk to a reputable dog trainer, or — knowledgeable — dog owners who can introduce your child to their even-tempered, trained dogs properly — as in, with calm instruction, not amid multigenerational churn.
Carolyn: My family is feeling pressure from the estrangement between my sister and me.
Do I need to meet her halfway when she slandered me in public, impacting my professional and personal relationships and reputation in our community with a blatant, public lie? There is a history of this kind of behavior, but it had never moved into the public arena before.
She has admitted telling the lie out of frustration to “clip my wings,” so to speak.
I’ve felt she needs to apologize and repair damage done to the best of her ability. At that point, I’d be willing to put it behind me and move forward. Am I being too harsh?
No. Your family is being too indulgent of her. When one family member admittedly and deliberately causes harm to another to serve her own agenda — even if at some point in the chain of complicated family consequences you were responsible for provoking her — then she is solely responsible for the necessary apologies and repairs to both reputation and family.
I am sorry your family’s pressure has been misplaced on you, even inadvertently — and I’m sorry that not even having your sister’s confession in your pocket is sufficient to make you whole. What you can do, and all you can do, is let your family know that given her confession, the path to restoring family unity has to begin with her.
Email Carolyn at email@example.com.