My kids love our dog. Me? Not so much.

Posted by Lylah M. Alphonse  February 2, 2009 03:46 AM

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The Boston Globe Magazine launched a new column yesterday called "Parenting Traps," and in the first installment staff writer Neil Swidey writes about how his kids have asked the age-old question: Can we have a dog?

As I write this, there is a large, not-overly bright but very sweet black lab sitting near my feet, absentmindedly licking his paw. My husband and our kids adore him; me, I think he's a good dog, but I'm not so much of a pet person. In fact, I have never, not even as a kid, really wanted a pet.

This, apparently, is not the norm.

Our 13-year-old has such an affinity for animals that she held out hope I'd birth a litter of Labrador retrievers instead of a human baby four years ago; she's more than happy to walk and care for our pet, but we also live out in the boonies where our dog can roam around outside (well, within the electric fence) without problems. In most families, though, once there's a pooch on the premises, Mom and Dad are the ones who end up doing most of the work.

So, what's the benefit? According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, taking care of a pet may help children develop better social skills, self esteem, and self confidence. All reasons why there's a dog sitting near my feet right now.

Do you have pets in your household? Why or why not? Join in the discussion at "Parenting Traps" (or weigh in below!).

Lylah M. Alphonse is a Globe staff member and mom and stepmom to five kids. She writes about juggling career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day and blogs at Write. Edit. Repeat. E-mail her at lalphonse@globe.com.

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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4 comments so far...
  1. We have two cats who I'm not overly fond of. Our baby loves to chase them - and they're not overly fond of that! I'd much rather have a dog and my husband has agreed that, after she turns one, we definitely need to follow up on that.

    I've had dogs for a good chunk of my life and I don't mind caring for them in the least. The upside is that the baby loves dogs - even the huge ones. She stays overnight from time to time at a friend's house. Our friend has a 3 year old who loves the baby - and a huge mastiff mix who's old and docile and the baby is so mad for, she cries when he leaves the room.

    It's worth it to me. But the cats? We got them when we didn't have room for a dog, my husband wanted some companionship during the day and they needed a good home. They're not overly companionable with me, but maybe they sense that I would have preferred to wait for a dog


    Posted by phe February 2, 09 02:21 PM
  1. I can't wait for my cat to die. It went from being the "family cat" to entirely my responsibility. I never want another pet.

    Posted by K February 2, 09 04:51 PM
  1. I don't understand the point of this article. When we live in families or any kind of grouping, we each need to, at some point, go along to get along, make compromises. Pets are a lifestyle commitment and a change from not having pets. So what? If you were single, you wouldn't have a pet. You have a family, they want a pet, you have it. We all do things that differ slightly from our personal views of the perfect life. Get over it.

    Sorry you didn't get the point, Laocoon; thanks for taking the time to leave a comment anyway. -- LMA

    Posted by Laocoon February 2, 09 06:09 PM
  1. Bringing up your small child with dogs and cats helps ensure they will not have allergies as an adult. For this reason alone, it's worth it.

    Posted by ssinvt February 2, 09 07:55 PM
 
4 comments so far...
  1. We have two cats who I'm not overly fond of. Our baby loves to chase them - and they're not overly fond of that! I'd much rather have a dog and my husband has agreed that, after she turns one, we definitely need to follow up on that.

    I've had dogs for a good chunk of my life and I don't mind caring for them in the least. The upside is that the baby loves dogs - even the huge ones. She stays overnight from time to time at a friend's house. Our friend has a 3 year old who loves the baby - and a huge mastiff mix who's old and docile and the baby is so mad for, she cries when he leaves the room.

    It's worth it to me. But the cats? We got them when we didn't have room for a dog, my husband wanted some companionship during the day and they needed a good home. They're not overly companionable with me, but maybe they sense that I would have preferred to wait for a dog


    Posted by phe February 2, 09 02:21 PM
  1. I can't wait for my cat to die. It went from being the "family cat" to entirely my responsibility. I never want another pet.

    Posted by K February 2, 09 04:51 PM
  1. I don't understand the point of this article. When we live in families or any kind of grouping, we each need to, at some point, go along to get along, make compromises. Pets are a lifestyle commitment and a change from not having pets. So what? If you were single, you wouldn't have a pet. You have a family, they want a pet, you have it. We all do things that differ slightly from our personal views of the perfect life. Get over it.

    Sorry you didn't get the point, Laocoon; thanks for taking the time to leave a comment anyway. -- LMA

    Posted by Laocoon February 2, 09 06:09 PM
  1. Bringing up your small child with dogs and cats helps ensure they will not have allergies as an adult. For this reason alone, it's worth it.

    Posted by ssinvt February 2, 09 07:55 PM
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About the author

Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant, and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes: Understanding How Your Children See the World." She won several awards for her weekly "Child Caring" column in the Globe, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.

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