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Contemporary Parenting Questions

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Last updated on 12/05/08

Is my child ready to own a pet?

A survey conducted by the German Toy Manufacturing Association found that horses, dogs and cats top the wish list of most children under 10 years old. Although there were differences according to age and sex, some 21.9 percent of the children interviewed said that having a horse, dog, cat or even a tiger would make them happy. Not only do pets increase the joy of the children who own them, but they can also teach kids valuable lessons. Kids can learn responsibility, empathy, patience, and communication, all from a pet. Animals have also proven to be therapeutic, as they are not judgmental and do not hurt without reason.

Although it is sometimes very tempting to take home an exceptionally cute animal, your decision to allow your child to have an animal must be carefully deliberated. Children who are not ready to take care of a pet often neglect the animal and leave it’s’ up keeping to the parents. In extreme cases, children have abused and killed animals. In addition to evaluating your child’s readiness, a parent must also consider the financial burden a pet might present. Pets need supplies, toys, food, and expensive visits to the veterinarian. Dogs need to be walked and most animals cannot be left alone for an extended period. Talk to your child before you buy a pet and determine both your and their readiness. When done properly, owning a pet can be a priceless opportunity for your child.

In the Jewish Community

Contrary to the typical American family with a son, daughter, cat, and dog, pets are not common in many circles of the Jewish community. Fish, small reptiles and mammals, and occasionally cats can be discovered in Jewish homes, yet dog owners in the Jewish community are hard to find. Perhaps the lack of pets is a result of the typically large Jewish family. Children with eight or ten other siblings have no need for a pet to teach them responsibility; they have enough practice with their younger siblings! Additionally, many do not have the funds to care for an animal in addition to a large, growing family. In some circles, having a pet carries a stigma that many prefer not to have. Pet owners may be labeled as “modern”- a title that many would rather not have. The decision to own a pet is a very personal one that should be thought about carefully and not be influenced by superficial factors.

Use the following links to educate yourself about pet ownership. Read the pros and cons of having a pet and what you can expect if you decide to get one.

Frequently Asked Links

How can I determine if having a pet is appropriate for my family?

What are some of the pros and cons of pet ownership?

What are some of the advantages of having a pet?

Why are pets good for kids?

What can pets teach children?

How can pets help children with special needs?

What are some of the issues that pet owners confront?

Can pets spread infections?

Which type of pet should I select?

What are some starter pets for kids?

Which kinds of pets are suitable for young children?

Where can I find out about different pet types for kids?

Can I have a pet if my child has asthma?

How can I help my child cope with the loss of a pet? more

Related Articles

Cat Scratch Disease
Cat scratch disease is an infection that causes swelling of the lymph nodes after an animal scratch. Learn about signs and symptoms, prevention, treatment, and more.

Bites and Scratches
Animal bites and scratches, even minor ones, can become infected and spread bacteria to other parts of the body, regardless of whether the animal is a family pet or a wild animal.

Animal Bites Instruction Sheet
Animal bites and scratches that break the skin can cause infection. Rarely, animal bites can cause rabies, a dangerous, life-threatening disease.

How to Stay Safe Around Animals
Do you love animals? Many kids do. Find out how to stay safe around them in this article for kids.

Preventing Dog Bites
Teach your child a few basic dog manners, and both your child and the dog can enjoy safe encounters.

Toxocariasis
Toxocara are common parasites of dogs and cats. When they infect humans, the illness is called toxocariasis.

Why Is Hand Washing So Important?
Did you know that proper hand washing is the best way to keep from getting sick? Here is how to teach this all-important habit to your kids.

Resources

Parenting Resources for the Jewish Community

Compiled by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)
http://www.hsus.org
HSUS is the world's largest animal protection organization and has been officially recognized by the United Nations to negotiate for animals.

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology
http://www.aaaai.org/
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology offers up-to-date information and a find-an-allergist search tool.

National 4-H Council
http://www.fourhcouncil.edu
The 4-H program involves young people in educational youth development programs throughout America. Engaged in 4-H clubs, camping, school enrichment activities, and after-school programs, young people are given the opportunity to learn teamwork and develop leadership skills. Contact them at: National 4-H Council 7100 Connecticut Ave. Chevy Chase, MD 20815

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA)
http://www.aspca.org/site/PageServer
The ASPCA provides education about the humane treatment of animals (including finding and caring for a pet) and pet adoption opportunities nationwide.

Rabbi Horowitz does not endorse any external sites or monitor or approve content on these sites. When considering information presented here, you should consult your experts to determine what is best for you. Our sole purpose is to help you access information that Rabbi Horowitz and others have made available on the internet.

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