If you ask any group of children to come up with the top five things they want most, invariably that list will include some sort of pet. And yet, if you ask this same group of children how many of them have (or have had) pets, you'll be surprised to find that most, if not all, already have (or have had) a pet. Pressed further, you will also discover a marked lack of enthusiasm and interest in their current or past pet experiences, and an adamant assurance that things would be different, if only their parents would give in to their demands.
Movies and television shows seem to romanticize the concept of 'a boy and his dog' or 'a little girl and her pony', yet many parents note a marked contrast from what is depicted and the reality of the situation. Just as with a new toy, a new pet can invoke promises of everything from proper pet care to good behavior. Sadly, the novelty of a new pet wears off just as fast, and many a parent is left to deal with a forgotten puppy, or a kitten that isn't quite as cute when it scratches.
So what can parents do when the topic of pets comes up, as it undoubtedly will? Some parents can stave off the topic while the children are smaller, promising that at a vague point in the future, when the kids are older, they may broach the topic again. Of course, this will only hold them off for so long. Eventually, the topic of pets will come up again, and invariably at an increased rate and intensity. At this point, parents are wise to sit down with their children and have a serious conversation about the commitment and care involved in taking on the responsibility of a pet. Remember, that in their excitement at the mere fact that the topic is even being considered, your kids will likely promise to and agree to nearly anything. But more is needed.
Depending on the age of the child, research about their pet of choice must take place and this needs to be lead by the child, so that they fully appreciate the impact a pet can have on their lives. Review this information as a family and discuss the pros and cons of the sort of pet that's up for discussion. Also, this is a good time to bring up the issue of cost, both for acquiring the pet and for feeding and grooming, possible spaying or neutering, vaccinations and licensing. Again, wise parents will stress the degree of commitment and responsibility required and possibly request a reasonable monetary contribution by the children.
In the end, if you're sufficiently confident in your children and the commitment they have made, then the next step is to give in and get a pet!
And remember, no matter what your kids have agreed to, they WILL find a way of shirking their responsibility and in the end, the pet or pets, will be YOUR problem. So make sure that you take part in the selection process, and remember to have fun with your new pet!!