Teaching Responsibility with Pets


My kids have been asking for pets of their own for quite a while. We, well… I, have been a little reluctant to make that happen. My primary concern has always been that the pets will quickly lose their luster in the eyes of the kids and fall to my wife and me to take care of.

It’s a legitimate concern. I’ve seen toy after toy enter this house and get discarded after 5 minutes of play time. We, as parents, already have a ton on our plates, and adding up to 4 more living things to take care of seems like a terrible idea.

But, what if we can get past the concern and use the pets to teach about responsibility, love, and selflessness? Those are just a couple of the many lessons that we can teach our children by allowing them to care for pets. Obviously, we’ll need to guide them, help them along the way, and ultimately make sure the animals are well cared for, but we believe allowing our children to carry much of that responsibility now will pay dividends well into the future.

So, how do we do it in the Shary household? Each child that’s old enough has gotten, or will soon get a pet that is theirs alone. They are expected to meet the needs of the animal; including food, water, cleaning, etc. And just like any other responsibility, if they don’t take care of it, we’ll establish consequences.

My oldest son has gotten a leopard gecko which he named Mando. My oldest daughter will be getting a Goldendoodle in the near future who she’s going to name Biscuit. My youngest daughter got a betta fish which she named Cutie. My youngest son would probably just try to eat whatever small creature we got him… so, we’ll hold off on that for now.

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