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 email@example.com.