One of the most common questions your kids will ask you is ‘Daddy, can we get a pet?’. If you’re ready for that, that’s great, but if it’s not possible at that moment in time, it can be difficult to say no. Finding a way to explain to your kids so that they understand will help end the conversation (for the moment), and buy you some time so that you can prepare to get one in the future.
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Don’t just say ‘no,’ make sure you give a reason
Just saying no and getting frustrated will just keep the issue going – whenever you’re asked, and the answer is no, make sure you give them a reason too. Explain that you have a vacation coming up, or you’re making some changes to the house and that it wouldn’t be fair to have a pet around at the moment, but that it could happen in the future. Be prepared for their counter arguments too; the internet is full of useful tips for kids to get their parents to say yes to a pet. Don’t say you weren’t warned!
Help them understand how much work it is
Some kids’ perceptions of looking after a pet are that it is as simple as looking after a stuffed animal. By helping them understand how much work it is, you may put them off getting a pet for good. Give them a list of everything they’d be expected to do to look after the animal, and ask them to read it and see if they could manage to do *all* of those things, including picking up poop or having to deliver the best flea treatment for dogs or cats (not the most fun part of looking after a pet!). They’ll soon change their minds about having one when they see how much work goes into it.
Be completely honest with older kids
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Older kids may be better able to accept the real reasons why you cannot have a pet at this time. Financial reasons will be better understood by older kids, as well as the argument that they could be leaving for college soon, and you won’t have the time to look after their pets when they’re gone.
Offer some alternatives
If getting a pet just isn’t possible right now, why not offer some alternative suggestions? Animal shelters are always in need of volunteers, and you may find some nearby who are willing to let your kids help out after school or on weekends. You could also see if any of your neighbors have pets that they’d be willing to help your kids look after when they go on vacation or if they’re not going to be around much on certain days – there are a lot of suggestions for alternatives to ‘traditional’ pet ownership. Dog walking is another popular idea, as many people struggle to find the time to walk their dogs as much as they should – they could even earn a bit of money which could be saved towards getting a pet if you decide that they are responsible enough and are willing to reopen the discussion after a period.
It’s worth reading about the ins and outs of getting a pet like a dog before you completely rule it out – you may decide that really it’s the best thing for your family. Whichever side of the fence you stand, make sure you take the time to think about it carefully before you explain the decision to your kids.