WHAT ARE REASONABLE EXPECTATIONS OF CHILDREN WHO CARE FOR THEIR PETS?
Parents often give pets as a way to teach their children and teens responsibility for physical and emotional care giving. It is often problematic because most kids don’t carry out their responsibilities fully. They love their pets but don’t have the maturity to realize the extent of care an animal actually needs on a daily basis.
Often parents expect the child to take on the full duty of taking care of their pet rather than seeing pet care as a collaborative job with the parent taking the lead and the child being the helper.
Using Parental Intelligence which means sharing thoughts and feelings about caring for a loved one is a far better solution that builds the parent-child relationship while providing kindness for the pet.
SHOULD YOU EVER TAKE A PET AWAY?
It is very important not to punish insufficient caretaking of a pet by taking the pet away. This leads to an emotional sense of loss of a pet. Then the child grieves with a deep sense of guilt that is too hard for even a teen to tolerate.
The emotional loss of the love the pet gave doesn’t teach how to take responsibility. The child judges the parent harshly believing the mother or father didn’t really love the pet as part of the family. The child feels a great lack of understanding.
For additional information about pets on 9-ll, an excellent book that covers the full extent of the trauma is September ll: Trauma and Human Bonds by Susan Coates, Jane Rosenthal & Daniel Schecter.