Welcome to the June 2014 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Kids and Animals
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared stories and wisdom about kids and pets.
We are currently having dog discussions in our family. While it has been a long-time vision of mine to have a dog (since asking for a puppy every Christmas as a child), I’m still not sure if I’m quite ready for the reality of it.
My daughter Sofie is an animal lover who has been collecting the stuffed variety of every species — including bears, owls, chimps, jaguars, horses — to fulfill her love of furry creatures. She’s been asking for a family pet for years, even after her birthday bunny died just three weeks after bringing her home.
An only child, Sofie has been complaining lately about loneliness. Her father and I did promise that we’d get a dog if we didn’t have a second child… a boat that has since sailed. Still, I worry.
- Will a dog be too much responsibility? Unlike bunnies, who live about 5-6 years if you’re lucky, a dog is an average 15-year commitment. Never having been around dogs much, I’ll have a lot to learn — and I’m not sure I’m ready for more learning.
- Will this be one of those things that my daughter really, really wants then changes her mind about it? Like the ballet, piano and horse riding lessons, which all became boring, difficult or scary. Of course, the dog would be a family pet, but I’d hate to see Sofie lose interest.
- Will having a dog hamper our travel plans? We want to see Paris, Costa Rica, Tuscany, Alaska and more… and I do not like the idea (or the cost) of boarding a dog. I’m not even sure my parents will welcome our regular visits to Philly if we bring along a four-legged companion.
- What about the eco footprint of a dog? I have researched and written about the most eco-friendly pet choice, so I do feel some guilt over increasing our footprint with the less-than-sustainable canine species.
Despite these worries, I can also see the many benefits of having a pet:
- A chance for Sofie to take on the responsibility and caring for another. She would have been a great big sister, so why not allow her to transfer those nurturing skills to a pet? A dog can be an excellent stand-in for a sibling, with the perks of being more loyal and less argumentative.
- This will also force Sofie to make a commitment (unlike those lessons she can simply quit), since Noodles — her latest name suggestion — will be with us into my daughter’s college years.
- The physical, emotional and mental benefits of having a pet seem endless, from increased empathy to reduced allergies.
- The adoption process — because, of course, we will avoid pet stores and adopt or rescue a needy dog —will be a teaching experience for Sofie.
- As “dog people,” we will inevitably broaden our social circle as we encounter other dog owners on our walks and trips to the park. This will also expand Sofie’s (and my) level of comfort around other animals, which can only be a good thing.
- A dog will be a positive role model in the household, as animals offer great spiritual lessons for all of us.
- Figuring out ways to be eco-friendly dog owners will likely provide new material and lots of cute photos for my blog.
I remember what it’s like to have a family pet. Mike and I lived with a series of bunnies for ten years, and they each added love and depth to our home. I can see how a slightly larger, furry creature would be a nice addition to our threesome. The unconditional love always outweighs the worries and problems. Because of that, I feel pretty confident that we’ll welcome a dog into our family sometime within the year, and that it will be a process of learning and discovery for all of us.
This feels nearly as big as having another child, with so much to learn. I’m sure there are a variety of dog-rearing philosophies just as there are with children. Will I discover the doggie version of attachment parenting? Is there such a thing? I look forward to finding out.
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
- What Animal Rescue is Teaching My Children
- Tips on Picking the Perfect Kid-friendly Dog — Lactating Girl at The Adventures of Lactating Girl shares some tips she’s learned on how to find the perfect child-friendly dog for your family.
- All New Animals Are “Woof” — Baby Boy is still learning animals. Life Breath Present doesn’t yet have any at home, but he still believes that all animals are “woof.” Here’s the proof.
- Dude, where’s my Horse? — Adora loves horses, but Erin at And Now, for Something Completely Different really doesn’t. However, Adora’s longing wins out; learn about their interactions with horses here.
- Weighing the Pros and Cons of a Family Pet — When is a family ready for a pet? Donna at Eco-Mothering discusses her worries as well as the benefits of adopting a dog, including how it will affect her seven-year-old daughter.
- Parenting Challenge–Learning from Animals–running the emotional gammut — Survivor at Surviving Mexico writes about the emotional learning her family has experienced through sharing their lives with animals.
- Puppy Love for our Family — In case you didn’t catch it from the blog title, Pug in the Kitchen, the family pet is an integral part of Laura’s family and home life!
- Vegetarianism and Animal Rights: Explaining to Children — Becca at The Earthling’s Handbook is mostly vegetarian…not 100%, and not because of animal rights…yet she has found that the idea of not hurting animals is the aspect of vegetarianism most easily understood by a young child. She explains what her son has learned about not eating meat and how it has affected his social life.
- Pets & kids: The realities — Lauren at Hobo Mama lays out the benefits and drawbacks of pet ownership when young kids are involved.
- HOW PETS CONNECT WITH EMOTIONS: KIDS & PETS AFTER 9-11 — Parenting Expert Laurie Hollman at Parental Intelligence discusses the importance of pets in lowering stress after traumatic situations, why children choose certain pets, the loss of a pet, and the role of parents in teaching care-giving to animals in a warm, gentle way.
- It’s not our house without a dog! — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work describes why giving a loving and disciplined home to at least one shelter dog at a time enriches the life of her family, and has become a vivid memory in the minds of her children.
- Canine Haikus —Kids, dog, haikus, at Dionna (Code Name: Mama). Pet-centric poems.
- Beanie’s Bunnies — Our Mindful Life‘s Sofi Bean has gotten her first pets!
- Montessori Care of Pets — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about her experiences with kids and pets and shares Montessori resources for pet care.
- How to Nurture Your Child’s Awareness of Spirit Guides — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama hosts a post from her regular contributor Lauren of SpiralElixir.com. Lauren looks at the concept of animals as spirit guides and how deeply children are connected to this realm. She also encourages us to open ourselves up as parents to the reality that children are naturally more connected to the animal world, giving us ideas on how to nurture their relationships with their Spirit Guides.
- No Puppy! — Meg at the Boho Mama shares her tips for dealing with toddlers and the (very real) fear of animals.
- Year of the Pets — Jorje of Momma Jorje wasn’t sure she ever wanted pets again, but things have changed a lot this year!
- 3 Reasons Why Keeping Backyard Chickens is Good for my Toddler — Bianca, The Pierogie Mama, started keeping backyard chickens for the benefit of their eggs, but what she wasn’t prepared for was what they would teach her two year old daughter too.