Is owning a pet really beneficial to a family? Can pets teach children?
Growing up, I was surrounded by animals: rabbits, chickens, a couple turkeys, multiple cats and dogs. (We didn’t live in the city!) When I left for college, I missed my pets terribly. I had never lived in a place with no animals, and dorms don’t make allowances for furry roommates! When I married my husband, I got pregnant right away, so there was no time to focus on a new pet.
After several years of marriage a friend from church offered us free kittens. We got two – one for each child. My daughter named her fluffy cat Cinderella. My son named his grey tabby Luke Skywalker. And so it began…
When my son turned ten, we decided to try a puppy. After much research, we settled on a brindle boxer, who we named Tucker. Our house has never been the same. Two years later when my daughter turned ten, we bought her a white boxer (Kiaya, who turned out to be deaf, but that is a whole other blog topic!) We’ve also adopted two kittens from the animal shelter here in town.
In my experience, I believe having a family pet is very beneficial, far outweighing the extra work and cost to care for them. Here’s why…
Pets Teach Children: 4 Reasons Why every family needs a pet
1) Pets teach children responsibility. Having a pet isn’t all about puppy kisses and kitty purrs. Sometimes they take a lot of work, like when they need to be potty-trained or get sick and need medicine. To instill the seeds of good stewardship, it’s important that children are involved in the care of the pet, such as giving plenty of attention and exercise, providing bathroom breaks, or cleaning the litter box. Pets may also may destroy or hide the important items, so children will soon learn the importance of putting their belongings away!
2) Pets teach children priority. Pets have needs, and there are consequences when those needs are not met. For example, pets who don’t get regular exercise or attention make messes and get into mischief. When we brought our puppies home, the child who ‘owned’ the dog had to clean up most potty messes. This encouraged them to pay better attention to when the pet needed to go outside. My children quickly grasped the concept of taking the dogs straight outdoors upon returning to the house after school or church, and keeping the litter box clean so the cats would not seek to relieve themselves elsewhere. When pets’ needs are met, the family and the pet are happier.
3) Pets teach children commitment. By nature, all children are needy and self-centered. As they grow, they eventually learn to do more for themselves, and realize the world doesn’t revolve around them. Pets help in this process. Children with pets better understand that their actions affect others. They have to commit to taking care of the pet because it’s not going away; it’s a new member of the family. They can’t just think about themselves. They have to consider their pet when making decisions, like not rushing off to a friend’s house every afternoon and leaving the pet unattended for hours.
4) Pets teach children unconditional love. Except in cases where pets are significantly mistreated or neglected, pets are very forgiving and easily forget when owners make mistakes. We recently took a family trip and I wasn’t thrilled with the pet-sitter we chose, but once we returned home, our pets were so excited to see us it didn’t matter. My favorite morning ritual is sitting in the corner of the couch with my coffee, one or both my boxers leaning against me as I read my devotions. Pets love you, no matter what. And who doesn’t enjoy a little bit of extra affection?
Research has proven that pets raise a person’s satisfaction with life.
Do you have pets? How do you think pets teach children?
Copyright © Jen Cudmore, Moms of Faith®, All Rights Reserved
Leave a Reply