IS IT TIME TO GET A PET?
If your children are desperate for a dog or hankering for a hamster, Emma can help you decide whether to oblige
As a kid, I begged my A parents for a pet, but they flatly refused. After years of trying, my elder sister and I hatched a plan to re-home two unwanted kittens in the garage. Our dad discovered them and I was grounded for a few weeks, but eventually – after seeing what good care we’d taken of those kittens – my parents relented and cats Scrappy and Smudge became a part of our family.
Owning a pet is a big responsibility, and you may well wish to keep your home in order and avoid the endless hours of grooming, exercising and feeding. But if you’re considering allowing your kids to have their first pet, it’s worth knowing that research supports the idea. Children with pets tend to be less anxious and less overweight. Boys who are brought up with dogs tend to be more emotionally well balanced.
While no parent wants their children to go through emotional distress, losing a pet and dealing with grief can be beneficial, too, as it helps them come to terms with the impermanence of life.
Owning a pet also gives a child a level of responsibility, and helps them to recognise the importance of commitment.
If you feel like your child doesn’t understand how much work owning a pet is, suggest they prove to you that they’re ready – whether that’s walking a neighbour’s dog or simply researching the work involved in keeping a pet.
Allowing them an opportunity to demonstrate commitment means they feel like you have given them a chance and, should they fail to keep up their end of the bargain, they will be aware of the consequences.
Finally, if you’re keen to add an animal to the family, before you spend a fortune buying a pedigree breed, go online and look at local animal shelters because there are thousands of rejected pets desperately seeking their forever homes.