Sage Advice: Dog Bite Seems to Hurt the Whole Family


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Dear Amy: I am the mother of three adult children and grandmother to six.

We usually celebrate holidays, birthdays, etc. together.

On Christmas Eve, my son’s 4-year-old was bitten by my daughter’s dog, while my son-in-law had the dog on a leash. The child was upset, but his parents handled the situation calmly. He now has a scar on his hand from the bite.

The next occasion that we were to be at this daughter’s home was over Easter.

My son’s family has a dog of their own (a very obedient animal), and didn’t want to traumatize their little boy any more than he already was. He asked his sister to please crate the dog when his children (he has the 4-year-old and a 2-year-old) were to be in the home.

She answered that the dog would be on a leash while inside. My son said that he and his wife wouldn’t be comfortable with that, and said he wouldn’t attend the family dinner. They celebrated elsewhere.

My son and his wife have hurt feelings, as do I.

I sent my daughter an email asking her to apologize to her brother and sister-in-law for not respecting their request, which I don’t think was unreasonable.

This issue is now causing a problem in our family.

Your input?

– Upset Mom and Nana

Dear Mom: Your children are adults. Your son attempted to negotiate with his sister, she turned him down and he delivered an appropriate consequence.

I think you made a mistake by inserting yourself and insisting that one apologize to the other, because now you have upped the ante. It might be wiser to be less directive toward your daughter: “I’m disappointed in how you’ve handled this, and I hope you’ll work things out, because this is having an impact on the rest of the family.”

You shouldn’t worry too much about this, nor should you take responsibility or ownership for a problem that you cannot solve.


In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

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