Monday Mantra: Pets Plus Kids Equal Lessons In Responsibility
"Mooooommmmm, can we get a dog?"
Who has heard this plea? Maybe it was a cat or a fish or a snake (gulp). Pets. We love them, for many of us, they are considered members of the family. For those with older kids, it is no problem, but when the kids are younger, how do you deal with the "I Want A Dog/Cat/Parakeet" event?
In my home, we have allergies (her: cats, me: any animal with fur, really), so we are limited to fish right now. We may venture into the amphibian territory (i.e. frogs) this summer, but that is still up for discussion.
Kiddo just turned five, and she understands the elements that go into having a fish: feeding FInners, checking on him, reminding me when we need to clean the tank. Taking care of a pet, the fun parts and the not-so-fun parts, are great ways to teach responsibility and empathy. All week, we'll be talking pets and kids.
Before you get that fluffball feline home or head to the shelter to adopt a dog, talk about what all it takes to have a pet become part of the family. Get books (you will hear me say this a lot this week), read on the Internet about cat care or fish 101, prepare all of the kids for this adjustment, the work and the joys.
Another good idea, especially for younger kids, is to make a responsibility chart. Put down the days of the week along with each job that needs to be done to care for Roxie the puppy. Add pictures of what each job is (putting out water, feeding, cleaning, gathering toys and so on) and then the name of which child (or Mom or Dad) that has that job that day. It is an easy way to illustrate and see just how much it takes to care for a pet. And a good reminder for everyone.
Do you have pets? What kind?