DEAR AMY: After our 9-year-old grandson struck out several times playing baseball, I asked his mother if he was feeling down about it.
She talked with him, and he said it wasn't his fault, it was the umpire's fault.
Is this normal thinking for someone his age? Do you see problems down the road with this type of attitude?
DEAR GRANDMA: I do think this is "normal" thinking for a 9-year-old, and this is why 9-year-olds aren't allowed to vote, drive a car or play pro ball. Mature and compassionate adults must step in to correct this thinking.
This boy's parents (and other family members and adult mentors) should work with him, starting now, to introduce and reinforce the idea of taking personal responsibility for his actions. Parents are a child's first and most influential coach. They should demonstrate accepting personal responsibility for their own failings and the ability to be resilient and good-natured through failure.
I shared your question with Mike Terson, former public address announcer for the Chicago Cubs and an experienced coach in youth sports. He has seen many baseball games (and many strikeouts). His response: "Plenty of professional baseball players strike out a lot. Every player at every level strikes out. The key to youth sports is having fun.
"Striking out isn't fun, especially striking out all the time. This child should be encouraged to realize that what happens in baseball is about as critical as the outcome of a family game of Monopoly. And if he is upset about striking out, that is something that he can work on and improve. If he doesn't have the desire to do the work necessary to improve, baseball might not be of interest to him. He should be encouraged to try some other sports or activities that he might enjoy more."
DEAR AMY: I am an 18-year-old college sophomore who has an unhealthy, win-lose relationship with my father. On the "win" side, he is a financially successful businessman. He granted me a loan-free education throughout private school and university.
My older siblings and I have matured into similar hard-working, confident young adults. We have all worked since we were 15 and are all pursuing a higher education.
However, on the "lose" side, my father is emotionally and sometimes physically abusive. He loves his family and we love him, but he will cuss, scream, shove, spit at and threaten my mother and us.
Neither medication nor therapy has helped him. He demands respect because he showers us in presents. He is furious if we refuse, and if we accept he uses guilt against any rebellion to his abuse. A "free" college education is hard to turn down in this economy, but is it too steep a price for putting up with his aggression?
DEAR TROUBLED: Your education is not "free." It is costing you very dearly, and you could continue to pay the price for a long, long time.
I hope you will choose to do what you know you need to do and reject the abuse and the spoils that attend it. Visit the dean's office and office of financial aid at your school to see if you can finance your own education. Develop a strategy to emancipate yourself and hope that you can then turn around and inspire and assist your mother and siblings.
If your father threatens or physically abuses you, your siblings or your mother, you should call the police. Perhaps the reality of legal consequences for his behavior would inspire your father to commit to change. Regardless of what he chooses to do, you should strike out on your own. I give you credit for knowing that this treatment is unacceptable and that it must stop.
DEAR AMY: "Stuck" raised the topic of making "loans" to family members.
Do not ever make a loan to a family member. If they fail to repay you, hard feelings inevitably result. Make gifts to them, and leave it at that.
DEAR LISA: Unless there are actual repayment terms, a family "loan" is really a "gift" and might as well be called that.
Send questions via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Amy Dickinson’s memoir, The Mighty Queens of Freeville: A Mother, a Daughter and the Town that Raised Them (Hyperion), is available in bookstores.