I feel as parents, we all get this question sooner or later in just about every household. The good news is that pets can be an amazing addition to your family in the right situation and with the right pet.
Researchers found when they studied children who owned pets that 40% of the kids would go to their pets if they were feeling bored, 32% would go to their pets when scared, 28% would go to their pets if there was a family argument, and 40% would go to their pets when feeling upset (McNicholas, 2002).
Owning a pet is also a natural opportunity for your twins to gain some valuable life skills. The obvious primary skill is learning responsibility. What parents may not realize is that their twins can also learn trust, compassion, respect, self-esteem, patience, and loyalty while caring for a family pet.
When choosing which type of pet is going to be right for your family, there are three main considerations. The first is to talk as a family about the amount of time you have to give to a pet. Different animals require different levels of care and commitment. For our family, after our dog died, we had to think hard about another pet. As a family, we travel quite a bit and we recognized that a new dog would require so much more time and attention when compared to our elderly dog. It didn’t seem right for our family to add a dog when we knew we were going to be gone so much of the time and we also were honest that we were not prepared to have a pet that needed multiple walks a day. Logically for us, it made more sense to make a switch and choose cats that would be alright with us going on trips away. We are able to have a neighbor come by every other day to check in on them.
The second consideration is lifespan. A dog or cat can easily be a 10 to 15 year commitment, whereas a rabbit or hamster may be just a few years and a fish, (at least in our house!), may be only a few months.
The final consideration is cost. When looking at costs, make sure you look beyond the sticker price on the animal itself. When we were adding to our pet family, one of my twins brought up the idea of a gecko lizard. The geckos themselves are not at all expensive, but then we priced the tank, heater, and LIVE crickets, and then once I figured out they had a lifespan of 15 to 20 years, it was clear that a lizard was not the right pet for us!
Once a pet has joined the household, it is time for your twins to take on the age-appropriate responsibilities of pet ownership. There are five main areas of pet care where kids can have this opportunity.
To read Jessica’s tips, click here…