Do you think children should have pets?
Are pets a good way to teach responsibility?
I think families should have pets and share the responsibility. Giving a pet solely to a child and telling them to take care of it by themselves is a sure way to bury an animal (not trying to be totally pessimistic here, just my experience), but if the household has an animal (or animals) and everyone has some part in caring and loving that creature, not only will the animal thrive but the family will too. It is a good way to start to learn responsibility and how to care for another creature, but a child can not and will not dedicate all of their time to raise and keep an animal, they will need help, but they should be taught and shown how to do it.
As a child and a teen I always wanted my own pet that was separate from the family, but my parents never allowed it. I bought my first pet (a snake) when I was living in the dorms in college (it was forbidden but I hid him in my closet) when I was 19. Now that I have my own child and multiple reptiles, I do understand why my parents wouldn't allow me to have one separate from everyone in the household. Even now I can get lazy in the care of my animals, but I have my own wonderful family (my boyfriend and my daughter) who help out with all of them and their needs (thank goodness)!
That isn't an easy question to answer. Yes, pets can be a wonderful addition to a child's life. However, not every child understand that pets are not toys. So, yes, at a responsible age, kids should have pets but always with adult supervision. It is so easy for a pet to be hurt or mistreated by the enthusiasm of a child. So it is important that parents keep a close eye on both pet and child.
A child can have a pet and can learn to be responsible for that pet, but that has to be taught over time and the parents have to take the lead role in obedience training if we are talking about a dog. You can gradually give more responsibility to the child on how to care for and treat his pet. Taking care of a pet should never be referred to as a chore. Feeding, bathing, grooming, exercising, etc, are things a pet needs and they should be taught as responsibilities, but you cannot do it in a day, week or month. You have to realize that you will be training your child and the pet at the same time. Both can learn.
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