DEAR ABBY: My 3-year-old grandson hurts animals. He's intelligent and articulate. He understands many concepts about all kinds of things. Frankly, I'm scared. It's because he is so intelligent and high-functioning. I feel he should have more empathy than he does.
He has been doing this off and on for the last couple of years. My daughter, my husband and I have been discouraging it the whole time. He gets timeouts, stern talks and toys taken away. It doesn't work. My daughter has started swatting his bottom or his leg hoping he will understand it is unacceptable. She isn't comfortable hitting him and neither am I. My grandson knows better. I know he does.
My daughter called me this afternoon, upset because he hurt their dog again. Must we get rid of these pets? No one wants to do that. When is it too much? How can we make it stop? -- AGHAST IN ALABAMA
DEAR AGHAST: It is already "too much." Your grandson's behavior isn't normal. Because he seems unable to appropriately interact with these helpless animals, he shouldn't be allowed to be around them without constant supervision. For the dog's own safety, another home should be found for it before it's hurt again.
Your grandson may be acting out of anger, because he has been physically or sexually abused himself or has witnessed domestic violence. This is why it's extremely important he be seen by a licensed mental health professional, who can advise his parents -- and you -- about how this should be handled. Without intervention, the boy's behavior could escalate, and he could seriously injure another child.
DEAR ABBY: I am a 64-year-old woman; my sister is 68. A few months ago, she was shopping and saw a man who looked exactly like our father. (Dad passed away in 2008.) A conversation ensued, and he subsequently came to visit her at her home. He's 69. She snapped a picture of him and sent it to me, and the resemblance is uncanny. He was born in the same state as our father, was adopted and never knew his birth parents. We never had a brother; it was always just the two of us and our parents. She wants me to meet him.
He's married and doesn't want to tell his family about us. I would be happy to meet him, brother or not, but I need to know the truth before getting involved. It would be too weird for me to just wonder. He seems reluctant to take the DNA test. My sister and I are in the AncestryDNA system already, so it would be easy for us all to confirm. What should I do? -- GETTING INVOLVED
DEAR GETTING INVOLVED: Because this man doesn't want his family to know he may have siblings, is reluctant to take the test and you would prefer not to meet him unless you know his status, do nothing. The next move should be his.
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