I have been thinking a lot about the dentist that killed Africa’s most famous lion. As a therapist, I know I can’t assume things about people. I do not know what his thought process was that day. I also do not know what he was told by the others who helped him with the hunt.
I DO know that I don’t like the way I felt when I heard the news of Cecil. I would like Q to have a greater respect for wild, beautiful animals and not choose to be in this situation. I hope that he will enjoy observing these magnificent animals (far enough away so he doesn’t become dinner) and decide that playing soccer, golf, or other sports may peek his interest far more than big game hunting.
How do I teach Q to have a deep respect for animals? What am I doing that will help Q draw his own conclusions of what is “right” or “wrong” for him? (Gosh, this “parenting” thing is never-ending, huh?)
First, I am modeling behavior. I cultivate a love and curiosity for animals. I suppose my interest in them makes the task of modeling positive behavior much easier. When I was eight, I was given a cat for my birthday. Crazy as it may seem to some, that cat knew my secrets and was frequently my alarm clock in the morning (he would lick my face every morning trying to wake me up for school). The curiosity I had about what he “knew” and how he was able to communicate was never-ending. When we go for walks, Q points to each animal he sees and we stop for a moment to observe the creature.
Second, I believe teaching empathy is important—empathy for people as well as other animals. As a therapist, I want to ensure Q has empathy so that he can develop and maintain deep, healthy, and lasting relationships with all creatures. I hug Q when he is sad and laugh with him when he is happy. (How to teach empathy can be complicated, but I’ll post more in a future blog.)
Q is still little, so I guess we have several years before we decide if this works. However, I already feel the weight of importance to model good behavior choices and a healthy lifestyle—along with countless other things—so let’s just add animal love to the list.