Mom Has the Right to Love Her Dog More Than Her Son

boy and dogHere we go again. The Daily Mail, publisher of such gems as "I've never liked my child" and "big headed babies more prone to cancer," has now served up a mother's confessional on why she loves her dog more than her child. Kelly Rose Bradford says he doesn't feel guilty admitting she often prefers her West Highland White terrier, Matilda, to son William.

After all, she never has to remind the dog to pick up the clothes on the floor or do your homework, and the dog doesn't talk back. Sound familiar, Moms and Dads? I dare say every parent who has a pet has -- at one time or another -- given rise to the thought that pets are (if nothing else) easier on your blood pressure.

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It isn't the thought that's the problem or even voicing the thought. It's Bradford's decision to make said thought public in this particular manner.

Specifically, to write an article for the entire world to see with her name at the top, and to pair it with photos of her son and the animal with whom he battles daily for affection.

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In doing so, Bradford has made her problem her son's problem. What he may have suspected before he now has proof of, and that's got to weigh heavily on a kid -- now and for a long, long time.

Numerous studies have confirmed that when parents have a favorite child, the other kids in the family suffer. But what's interesting to note is studies have also found that thinking (or in William's case knowing) you're not the favorite child can have a devastating impact on a child, including an increased risk of substance abuse.

Essentially, by outing herself in this way, Bradford has just put her kid at higher risk.

And the sad thing is Bradford could have had her cake and kept her kid safe. Pseudonyms are as old as the written word, and for good reason.

Parents who write about parenting have to walk a fine line in divulging our secrets. Essays like this certainly serve as a service to other parents who are having feelings that they can't quite define or about which they're feeling guilty. It helps them to feel less alone. It's why I've written over the years about everything from my very personal struggle with bulimia to my very personal struggle with breastfeeding. There's power in giving voice to our private problems in order to touch others. 

The pen is, after all, mightier than the sword.

But when we parenting writers wield our pen, we have to remember we aren't just writing about ourselves. We're writing about another human being, someone who has their own emotions about the topic at hand.

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If Bradford had written this essay pseudonymously, if she'd said "no" to the Daily Mail photographing her child, I don't think the world would be in as big of an uproar about this article. Sure, it would ruffle some feathers, and it would be a talking point. I can't help but balk at any mother actually saying, as Bradford does, "despite what anyone else might think, based on my love for her and the fulfillment of her needs over anyone else's, Matilda will always be first."

But it's much easier to take a hypothetical story written about a hypothetical (or at least not identified and photographed) child as food for thought than it is to accept a mother breaking her child's heart just for some clicks on a website.

How does your dog stack up against your child?

 

Image © iStock.com/Jason Lugo

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