As if you didn’t have enough responsibility being a parent, let’s talk about how a household pet can not only enhance your life, but also your child’s. The most common of pets can come with a commitment almost as big as a tiny-sized human you welcome into the home… feeding, doctor visits, potty training. You know, doing the stuff that keeps them alive. However, there is always one plus you can count on to slash out the cons list: A pet won’t talk back. Whether the home has a cat, dog, fish, turtle, bird, or reptile, they can all add diversity to the family tribe. Pets also come with many benefits that teach your kids good life lessons, taking a bit of the weight off of you in child rearing.
Benefits of Having a Pet
Feels Like Home:
Have you ever seen Marley and Me? If you don’t already own a dog, don’t watch it. If you have seen the movie already, then you know how much a pet can make a house feel like home. We waited to get my son his own cat until he was hopefully old enough to make it to college within the cat’s lifetime. I have dreams of him coming home for visits and still having the faithful companion pick right back up where they left off. I seem to believe that Dorothy was desperately saying, “There’s no Place like home,” because she missed Toto back in Kansas.
I like to think that having a pet teaches kids responsibility. When they are of age (as young as five years old, my son filled the food and water bowls for our pets), there are many tasks that can be fulfilled by their little, bitty none-the-wiser-to-hard-labor hands. There are not many things that give me joy like drinking a cup of hot coffee in the morning silence. That is unless that silence is broken up with the scooping of cat litter and grunts that come along with the dirty job. In adult life, sometimes it’s necessary to clean up someone else’s poop (use mess if you want). Your daughter, sitting at the desk of her rising entrepreneurship with a mess of college interns working for her, will thank you in silence for teaching her how cleaning up is done one scoop at a time.
Speaking of alone time, just imagine your child coming up to you and saying, “I don’t have anyone to play with” after you’ve assembled every Lego creation with them for the past five hours. Now, imagine your response back, “Why don’t you go play with the dog in the backyard? He sure is looking about as lonely as your puppy dog face right now.” Ahhh… cup number two for the day has just been whittled into your time. Growing up with the epitome of “Man’s Best Friend” will teach your child what it’s like to be loyal to those who are their constant source of encouragement; how to be creative with their resources during down time; and to be excited about events that make others excited.
If you have ever sat on the back steps of your home, crying about a sibling that gets more attention than you, a boyfriend that just broke your heart, or a parent that just doesn’t get it, then you will understand the comfort of a furry cat rubbing up against your leg and purring. Or how about a puppy dog that has a life mission of pleasing his friend? Those puppy dog eyes are sure to melt any frustrations away. Remember how pets don’t talk back? This is great for kids with big emotions. Let them cuddle their furry or scaly friend and whisper all the secrets into their ear. Freedom to express emotion is going to allow that boy with all the anger in him to have an outlet without judgment. Trust me on this one. From a Momma with a cat that’s always meeting her at the back steps and now Mom to a boy who is always saying “I’m fine,” pets are great listeners.
Increase Physical Activity:
If sports aren’t your child’s thing, then what about walking with or jogging with a dog? If it’s a good breed for outdoor activity (short hair, strong legs, big paws, and a disposition for adventure), then they could hike and enjoy the outdoors together! Several locations in Chattanooga have a leash-free dog park for a family outing with your pet. Doggie rep for Native Made Chattanooga playing at Rainbow Lake.
There is nothing like a cat meowing at your child in the early morning hours to help teach them that other people have needs that may come before filling their growling stomach. Remember when that same child cried every 2-3 hours throughout the night for food? Your time is coming kiddo, better get ready now. There are basic and non-basic life sustaining needs that the pet of the home has. And lucky for them, you might have taught the pet that your child is their master, thus controlling all of their needs. Sneaky, real sneaky, Mom!