Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Tug of war - children and animals

As a parent, I try really hard to remember what it was like as a child. It can be so easy to just dictate and lay down the rules, and say "And that's that." With a little step back and some consideration, it helps me to empathise with the children and communicate better.

We are having a little tug of war within the family at the moment. We have our trusty female Labrador Gypsy who has been with us for 6 years now, since she was a pup. Miss 8 and Master 4 love animals. Miss 8 in particular has had her eyes opened to the world of pets lately, with her teacher breeding Guinea Pigs and kindly bringing them in to the class every couple of weeks. It is great for the kids, as they have free contact with some animals they can handle and learn about. On the downside, each time the Guinea Pigs come to visit, it renews Miss 8's pleas for another pet.

Personally, I am not against having another pet in the family. Before making any additions though, we need to consider the dynamics of our house and family. I like to think these things through to consider all the pros and cons. Hubby, on the other hand likes a pet to be useful and sees any addition as only more work for us.

Miss 8 has been pleading her case with great enthusiasm, and has hit the subject from several angles. Once she gets an idea in her head, she is quite adamant. Miss 8 is a romantic at heart though, and tends to see the cute fluffy side of things, and not so much of the yucky, problematic side.

So, with an open mind, I said we should sit down and discuss this.

M8: I can buy a Guinea Pig from my teacher for only $10. Can I pleeaase have a Guinea Pig.
Mum: It may be only $10, but then it needs a home, needs looking after and feeding ....
M8: Yeah, but Mum it can live in my room and I will look after it.
Dad: I don't think a Guinea Pig is a good idea. Who will look after it when we go on holiday or away for the weekend?
M8:Well if I can't have a Guinea Pig I want a Parrot.
Mum:Hang on, we need to consider the mess that a bird makes. They may not need as much attention as other pets, but birds do tend to like to flick their food around a bit. It definitely can't live in your room, so where could we put it?
Dad: They are messy.
Mum:Could it live under the carport?
Dad: We need to remember how cold it gets here.
Mum:We also need to consider that we have a dog, and they may not mix.

The conversation lasted quite a while, and took many different turns and twists.
We tried to explain that there were many things to consider before getting another pet. We live in a small house, Master 4 is very full on, and hands on. We already have a dog. We go away quite a bit through the year. We need to consider all aspects of the pets' needs and the affect on the family.

All Miss 8 could hear was "No." Which is not what we were saying at all.

Miss 8 is not just a romantic at heart, but an emotional child too.

In the end I explained that we needed to consider the matter a little longer. I want her to be happy, and I believe that pets are great. I had several as a child, but there were no huge attachments.  Miss 8 is a completely different person and bonds with animals quickly. We also wanted to consider the rest of the family, because we are a team - we don't please one person to the detriment of everyone else. I also explained to Miss 8 that it would mean adding to her chores, of which she is already committed to cleaning her room once a week and helping to feed Gypsy through the week. She is like most children and forgets or tries to avoid her chores on occasion.

so, our dilemma continues.

I can see the joy she would get out of another pet.

The housing of the pet and tending to it's needs are an issue.

I will continue to look at options ... she will continue to beg, plead and cry to win her case.

Do you have any suggestions? I would love to hear your point of view? 
Do you have any positive or negative stories on pets?