If you have a kid, you need a pet. Now I know that is a statement that seems direct. Who am I to tell you to get a pet? Well, let me share with you why I feel so strongly about this. As a child, we had a cat. I am not a cat person as an adult, but I do recall fond memories of our cat as a child. We also had a dog in my teenage years. On both occasions, the animals were cared for by my parents, but there were times that pet care was a chore assigned to my sister and I. As an adult, I see why these chores were assigned from time to time, but never my permanent chore. (and I also see why it was not my full time responsibility)
Reason 1: Caring for others
Teaching kids to care for others is a process. They need to see it, do it and learn what happens when you don’t do it. That means they need to walk dogs, feed cats and play with them. As we all know, the consequences of not doing these are accidents on the floor, crying from the pet or even chewing up things we don’t want chewed in an effort to seek attention. Sounds a lot like a kid right? The point is; their little minds don’t see us as mommies and daddies doing this for our children. From the moment they are born, we are wiping butts, feeding crying babies and entertaining them as they grow into little people. Having a pet takes each of these actions and applies them to an unbiased party.
Reason 2: Sharing
Kids, especially first born or only children need to learn to share. Even prior to daycare or VPK, there is an opportunity to teach this by moms and dads giving affection to pets. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, but when first done, you may find your little one crawling into our lap or doing something to turn your attention back to them. This is natural but dividing your attention between a pet and a child shows them without causing any harm, that you can have affections toward others in addition to loving them. Please do not misunderstand, I am by no means suggesting you neglect a child or care for a pet instead of a child. This is simply an example of a lesson a child can learn almost subliminally.
Reason 3: Comfort
Kids need to be able to count on and confide in a buddy. Aside from their parents or maybe a sibling, a pet is the next immediate resource for small kids. In many cases, animals adopt a protective bond over small children, often providing comfort and a calmness to little ones. As a child grows, so will this bond. If you have ever had a childhood pet, I’m sure there was a time or two that you confided in your four-legged best friend. Shared your deepest secrets or feelings. By doing that it taught you the meaning of friendship and loyalty. Pets are nothing if not loyal.
Reason 4: Death
As much as I hate to say it, the death of a pet as a result of an illness or old age is often one of the first times children will experience death. This helps them to learn about the natural expiration date we all have. It also helps them to learn to value memories. By experiencing the loss of a family pet it gives you an opportunity to teach your children about the circle of life (in whichever religion you believe). It gives you an opportunity to show them how to mourn but also how to celebrate the memories.
I am not a parenting expert, nor do I claim to be an expert in anything, but I have lived a solid, experience-filled life and feel as though our experiences (good and bad) can be passed on in a positive light to the next generation. As your family decides on a pet in the future or maybe you already have a pet, but are now adding a child to the mix, I hope this little blog on the topic of family pets is helpful.
As always – Have a Happy day ~Mrs Go to girl