My 3- and 5-year-olds take delight in squashing ants on the sidewalk. I've tried to tell them that it's bad to kill living things, but they've seen me swat bees and spiders in the house, so I feel like a hypocrite. How can I explain the difference to them?
Dear Feeling Hypocritical,
Guess what? You're not a hypocrite. When you kill a bee in your home, there is a reason for you to do so. The insect is somewhat dangerous, and you have a right to protect yourself and your family. But when your child squashes ants, there is no reason for him to do so; the ant poses no danger and is not bothering him. You would, however, be a hypocrite if you went out into a forest to kill bees for fun.
Your children now are 3 and 5, so there certainly is no cause for you to panic. But it is an issue that must be addressed. At any age, it's important to learn to curb one's sadistic tendencies.