How do you know when your child is ready for a pet? Contrary to my sister’s belief, it is not when ypur child is able to vocalize his desire for one. My nephew began his verbal crusade at the age of two. A year later, he was still at it, and my sister was close to relenting. As her family had been petless up until then, I suggested that they start with something smaller and less demanding than a dog. Consider a fish, I advised.
Thus Pimento entered their lives. He was a brilliant red betta, named after the filling in my nephew’s favorite olives. I say “was” because he is no longer with us. You see neither my nephew nor his parents were actually ready for a pet. At the age of three, James Junior could not really be expected to change Pimento’s water or even remember to feed him regularly. My sister, living the hectic lifestyle of a mom of four, had little time to worry about the health or well-being of a fish. I am only too thankful they did not adopt a puppy.
So how do you know if your child (or your family in general) is ready to take on the responsibility of caring for a pet, be it cat, dog, gerbil or otherwise? If you’re reading this blog, you’re already ahead of my sister in that regard. Whenever you are considering bringing a new animal member into the family, it is a wise plan to read up on what to expect.
Next, consider the needs of the type of pet you are considering and how they will fit into your lifestyle. If you’re working 60 hours a week and rarely at home, it’s probably not time for a dog. If you plan on moving frequently, you may not be ready for a cat. If you’re working two jobs to pay the mortgage and take care of the kids, you may not be ready to add the expense of vet care and pet food to your already overburdened budget.
Quieting a whining child is never a good reason to take on a pet. While the love of a pet is one of life’s greatest gifts, the responsibility is not one to be taken lightly.
What do you think? Do you agree with this point of view or can you think of an alternative solution for those who don’t have the time or resources to care for a high-maintenance pet? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below.