Jul 26th

Children, pets and their intimate bond

I can safely say that I have a very close bond to my pet dog, who first came into our home when I was about 12 years old. My parents brought a little, fluffy, white puppy home in a basket, on my brother’s 14th birthday, and this marked a significant chapter in our family’s life, especially after us children incessantly begged our parents for a pet. That was the day our dreams came true; that was the day a constant source of happiness came into our lives; that was the day we all found a shared best friend. And I can say now, that my life has changed for the better, and has never been the same since!
For quite some time now, researchers in the fields of sociology, anthropology and psychology have tried to study the bond between humans and their pets. It is indeed a fascinating topic, because findings have shown that a human-pet bond is one of the strongest bonds we experience, sometimes even stronger than our bonds to other human beings. And this takes me to my next point, about the bond between pets and children: having a pet can change your child’s life and teach your child values in very novel ways.

Pets and children
To put it in simple terms, pets are known to be providers of affection and companionship. Many pet owners say that their pet reduces their feelings of loneliness, and adolescent children have said that they consider their pet to be their best friend or even like a sibling! Research also shows that children who are raised with pets in the household tend to have more empathy towards other animals, as well as other people. This means that they become more compassionate and caring towards others. In addition, having a pet while growing up teaches children important life skills and prepares them for later life experiences such as raising a child, facing the death of a loved one, etc.

Pets and the family
When bringing a pet into a household, it inevitably becomes an integral part of the family, because every member of the family interacts with the pet in one way or another. Each family member automatically assumes certain roles towards the pet: for example, the parents may take on the role of training and disciplining the pet; the children take on the role of playing with the pet and also sharing the burden of taking care of the pet’s needs; and the family as a whole takes the role of providing affection and love to the pet.
Having a pet in the household also tends to bring the family together, not just at the good times, but also during the difficult times like when the pet falls sick, when the pet has to be trained, etc. These situations actually improve communication between family members as they come together to solve a common problem. As a result, family bonds are strengthened in the process.

So, should you get a pet?
If you don’t already have a pet in your house, you might be wondering whether to get one or not. While there are definite benefits to having a pet around, there are several things to take into consideration before making a decision: a growing pet requires constant care and attention (it’s almost like raising a baby!); your family should be psychologically ready to handle the responsibility of taking care of the pet; your children should also be aware of the inevitable death of their beloved pet, and should be emotionally prepared to handle the loss.
But if you are an animal-lover, and your children are too, it would be good to have an open family discussion on the topic. Talk about what kind of a pet makes sense according to your living arrangements, how responsibilities will be divided amongst the family, the financial expenses to be made, etc. Making an informed decision will help you confidently and joyously bring home a bundle of happiness!

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