The Joys of a Family Pet

It's about fun and humor, but kids also learn compassion and responsibility
March 18, 2021 Updated: March 19, 2021

I recently spoke to the receptionist at a veterinarian’s office who shared with me a silver lining to the events of the past year: animal shelters were virtually empty, she said. It seems my family wasn’t the only one who saw 2020 as the year to welcome a new pet home.

Of course, a new pet is a delight under any circumstance, but especially given the challenges brought about by a global pandemic, an adorable, furry, feathery, or scaly companion can make enduring challenges a good bit easier.

If your family is considering adopting a pet, here are some of the many benefits you can look forward to from the experience.

Responsibility

Having a pet is a wonderful way to teach your children a sense of responsibility. When a new pet is brought home, the family jumps into gear to ensure its needs are met. Where will it sleep? What will it eat and how often? Does it need exercise? How will its hygiene be maintained? Does it need to be trained? How much attention should it be given? How can everyone ensure the pet is given a healthy and happy life?

Taking on the responsibility of caring for another life provides valuable lessons for children. If you’re bringing home a pet, allow your kiddos to take on as much of that responsibility as is appropriate for their age and development. The lessons will stick with them for a lifetime.

Compassion

Caring for an animal encourages one to let go of selfishness and put someone else’s needs before one’s own—a wonderful lesson to instill in your children at every opportunity. They’ll take the puppy for a walk when they don’t feel like it; they’ll clean out the kitten’s litter box though they find it distasteful; they’ll wake up early to feed the chickens; and they’ll clean out—or at least help to clean, if they’re young—the iguana’s tank regularly.

If the pet is in distress, the family will work to resolve the issue. If the pet wants to play, someone will stop what she’s doing and play with it. When the pet is happy and joyful, everyone will share in its joy.

Humor

Another benefit of a family pet is that pets can be hilarious. Those online cat videos are so popular for a reason. Your pet will reveal over time its particular brand of comedy. You’re sure to see an increase in smiles around your home—and that’s good for everybody.

Fun

Particularly relevant now, pets deliver on the fun—though some species (dogs, for example) may be more fun than others (say, fish). All have the potential to offer fun, though.

Lightheartedness, playfulness, joyfulness—these are qualities every family could use a bit more of, especially when many other options for fun have been canceled.

Comfort

Equally as relevant in these times, animals can be comforting. A kitty sleeping in your daughter’s lap may be just what she needs, or a snuggly puppy by your son’s side may be helpful when he’s struggling to get through his online class.

It’s no secret that families love their pets. Is your family ready for a new addition?

Follow Barbara on Twitter: @barbaradanza