If your kid is anywhere over the age of 5, there’s a good chance they’ve started the process of begging for a pet.
This is the age kids start interacting with friends at school and truly understand what they’re missing out on when they’re the ones without all the fun pet stories to share. Maybe you wouldn’t mind having a pet either, but you may be unsure of whether your kid is mature enough to help raise one yet.
Before giving into your child’s endless persuasion tactics, consider the following factors.
1. Current Responsibilities
They might not jump at the chance to take out the trash, but if you find yourself constantly making sure your kid has taken care of their own responsibilities, imagine how it’ll be when you add a pet to the mix.
Dogs, for example, need constant care. They need to be fed, let outside and monitored daily. Will your kid remember to do everything without endless reminding?
If the thought sounds exhausting, consider starting out with a fish or turtle. While these animals still need care and attention, they’re much easier to raise than a dog or cat.
If your kid has never spent time around other pets before, you can’t be sure how they’ll react to having one of their own. The idea of raising a dog might sound fun, but when faced with one, they might think differently.
Set up play dates with friends who have pets. See how comfortable your kid is interacting with a variety of animals. Another option? Spend an afternoon at a local shelter.
If they’re not yet comfortable when it comes to physical contact with an animal, spend some time helping your child get used to them before introducing one into your family.
3. Be Patient
Is their begging trend just that — a fad? Give it time before giving in. If your kid’s been asking for a while and assuring (and showing) you of their capabilities, it might be time to start searching for a new addition to the family.
If their asking for a pet is a brand-new topic, spend time explaining pet care responsibilities. Make sure your kid knows exactly what they’re getting into.
To be blunt, does your kid spend a lot of time focusing on themselves, or do they have a nurturing personality?
The key with this question is if your child isn’t naturally caring of others, helping them raise a pet could change that for the better. Animal care teaches maturity and responsibility, but also empathy.
You might not know the answer to this yet, but there’s always a chance your kid is allergic to some sort of animal dander. If you’re not sure, try exposing them to different types of animals and watch their reaction.
Do they get itchy eyes, runny noses or hives? If so, their pet choice will be limited. Make sure you know the answer to this before making a full commitment.
Looking after a pet takes time, patience and a whole lot of love:
6. Available Time
Does your kid spend all their time zipping from one after-school activity to the next? Are their weekends filled with Little League and pool parties?
If so, while they might be capable of caring for a pet, they might simply not have time. Take a look at their schedule (which should be easy, assuming you’re their regular chauffeur). Is there room for pet care?
7. Taking Over
If your smooth-talking kid succeeds at convincing you to bring a pet into the family, you are ultimately the one who needs to take responsibility for the animal.
You might be convinced your kid will care for their new pet, but let’s be honest: Kids are kids. Before ever saying yes, decide whether you’re truly happy to take on full responsibility for a pet. This means no returning the pet to a shelter or giving it away just because your kid falls through on their promises.
Animals are deeply affected by how they’re treated. If they get comfortable with their “forever home” only to find out it’s not truly “forever,” they won’t just brush it off. Keep your potential pet’s well-being in mind before bringing them home. Only agree if you’re on board to handle the pet care, too.
After considering these factors honestly, you should have a much deeper insight into whether or not your child is ready to take on full-time animal care.