Are My Kids Ready for a Pet?
Are you an animal person? You're either on one side of the fence or the other. Where do you stand when it comes to furry animals running about your house? How do you know if pets are the best thing for your family?
I may not have all the answers, but I do have a few good benefits of owning a pet that I want to share with you.
Taking care of a living thing is no joke. Being responsible for a pet teaches children that it takes a lot of hard work to keep an animal alive and thriving. Starting at even a young age, kiddos are more than willing to be involved in any way possible when it comes to helping. (Sometimes offering more help than you actually want!) You might be surprised at their intuitiveness in caring for the pet and their eagerness to be involved.
Teaching kiddos how to feed or brush your pet, or even how to clean out a cage, allows them to understand the importance of hard work, and to take pride in their efforts. They will also grow in compassion and empathy as they take care of their furry friend. They will carry these lessons and qualities with them for the rest of their lives.
Everyone needs a friend, and sometimes pets can be just what your child is missing. Having a built-in best friend who is always there to greet you in the mornings and when you come home certainly makes you feel good. Because pets obviously can't talk back, children feel a certain level of comfort sharing their feelings with their pet.
Speaking from experience with our new dog, my kiddos just can't get enough of him. From making up a chart of who gets to sleep with him each night, to fighting over who the dog loves most, they all have a soft spot in their hearts for our fluffy pup. Watching their love for him grow has certainly been an unexpected benefit that I'm very much grateful for.
"How much food does a Golden Doodle eat?" "How long do dogs live?" "Why does my dog sleep so much?" These are just a few of the many, many questions we get quite often from the kids. Suddenly the library books on dogs and pets have become a regular thing around the house, and topics of conversation all revolve around the fascinating things animals can do. Knowledge is power, and creating an environment for kids to learn and grow is one of the best things we can do for them. Obviously, you don't need a pet to do that, but fostering their excitement over something they can relate to sure makes it a lot easier to "learn" without it feeling like learning!
The more comfortable and confident children feel, the more they want to socialize and share their knowledge with others, especially their peers. I have noticed that when we go to the park with our dog it opens up so many opportunities for my kids to interact with other children and (with supervision) adults.
My 9-year-old has a few little neighbor friends that she'll call and they'll all take their dogs out on walks together. Seeing them out together doing something active sure puts a smile on my face and theirs!
These are a few of the many benefits I've found in owning pets. Since being married, we've had two dogs (one indoor and one outdoor), a handful of goldfish, and five cats. I would not call myself an animal person at all. (I'm wary of germs, and I don't love the idea of dirty pets coming in and out of the house.) But I do feel like those pets have become part of our family in wonderful ways that I could have never planned or imagined.
Now I need to admit that we've had many, many mishaps. That's just part of the game--chewed up shoes, scratched upholstery, ruined toys, and a brand new backpack that got "marked on". (We were all super mad about that one!) But all in all, the lessons, company, comfort, and entertainment from having a pet are all so worth it!