photo by XoproudmomXo
Growing up, we always had a cat. So when an adorable kitten literally showed up on my doorstep just weeks after I came home with my second baby, I grumbled but eventually took her in. Just like that, without much forethought, my children got their first pet.
But when a child indicates that they want a pet, forethought is exactly what's needed. How many kids have said, "Oh, I promise to walk him!," about the puppy they fell in love with only to neglect those duties within weeks?
That's just it, a kid wanting a pet and being ready for one aren't necessarily the same thing. So before you cave in to the pet request, try to figure out exactly which kind of pet you and your child can handle. A parents.com article about kids and pets, does a lot of the work for you. Here are the six pets they cover, and the kids they're really best for:
- Dogs: Good for kids who develop strong bonds. But in general they require the most care of any domestic animal.
- Goldfish: Good for kids who are brand-new to pet ownership. A popular "starter pet," the hardy goldfish can live up to several years in cold water with no heater or filter. But there's a good chance they won't live for years too, so you may have to explain "the circle of life" a bit sooner than you'd hoped.
- Cats: Kids who are nurturing but who won't mind being ignored by a pet that's often aloof. But many kids, especially those not exposed to cats as babies, are allergic.
- Birds: Children who are true animal enthusiasts do well with these pets. Birds are colorful, active, and can be very social, but it takes time and patience to train them, so they're not right for all kids. Be sure you select a bird by temperament rather than color, because personality varies widely by species. And prepare for a real commitment: Birds can live a long time.
- Hamsters and Gerbils: Good for families who want a pet but aren't ready for a cat or dog. "Pocket pets" are especially good in homes where everyone is gone during the day, because they're nocturnal and that's when they sleep. Beware: They can get stinky!
- Ant farm: Can be great for kids between the ages of 5 and 8 who seem to especially like pet insects and who show an interest in science. Can they get out? Yup, but not easily, the plastic usually remains intact.
Are you considering a family pet? Do you already have one? How well do your kids do as pet owners?