One of the greatest things (in my opinion) about being a parent, is the chance to share the world with my children. I love exposing them to nature and teaching them to be caring and compassionate. Maybe that is why we have a house full of critters!
Nothing makes me prouder then when our 5 year old sees the dog is out of food and stops long enough to feed him. Or when he lets us know the chickens are low on water. The fact that he cares enough about the animals to be nurturing is an amazing things. I think these are skills all children should develop. Whether you give them a horse or just a goldfish, that responsibility helps them realize they are NOT the center of the universe and to have caring feelings for others even if they are “just” animals.
Now I am not advocating everyone run out and get a new puppy! But might I suggest a new fish or hermit crab? Or if you already have a pet at home, why not let your child take the lead on caring for it. You will, of course, have to make sure they do it, but let them be responsible. Explain to them that the animal can’t feed itself. Express how happy it makes you when you see them stepping up. It will in the long run do a few things:
1.) Teach your child to be responsible
2.) Teach your child to be compassionate
3.) Bring a little more fun into the family by having a pet
4.) Move one of the many chores YOU do, to the capable hands of your child, allowing you to have 5 minutes to yourself.