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Yes, that’s my little girl and I being silly in the photo above. Isn’t she beautiful? Oh, and for the record, she’s my daughter.
Pet parents are one of the most amazing group of individuals I have ever met. They are not only extremely supportive and kind, but have some of the biggest hearts. However, they often aren’t given enough credit and are sometimes ridiculed.
Shocking as it sounds, there are many out there who just don’t understand the daily grind that goes into taking care of a fur baby (or multiple ones for that matter). Unfortunately, there exists a cartel of parents who feel that they are in a different and upper stratosphere because they have human children.
It’s almost as if bearing children anoints one with some sort of elite status and grants leeway to be the judge and jury over the lives of people that have nothing to do with them. Those people often dismiss pet parents as being ‘ridiculous’ or not being ‘real parents’. These are the same people who chastise the devotion that many of us have for animals and when tragedy strikes they are the first ones to say, “It’s just a dog.”
Are Pet Parents Crazy?
I recently came across some articles that peeved the crap out of me.
The author of the first article, says that she wants people with pets to STOP calling themselves parents. She goes on to give her reasons why one can never be a parent unless they have kids. In addition to calling pet parents willfully confused and delusional, she compares a pet to a Tamagotchi (a Japanese handheld digital toy). Seriously, is this woman all there?
The author of the second article says that calling a dog your baby is an insult to all mom’s. Good grief. Take a damn chill pill lady. How about you spend more time worrying about your own kids rather than what other people do and don’t do regarding their personal lives? Not only does she appear miserable but also goes on to whine about being a mother.
This last article is really rich. The author is quick to voice her irritation when viewing images of pet parents and fur-kids on Instagram. Just like the previous articles, she makes it a point to say that pet parents are “crazy.” However, by the end of the post, she comes off sounding very sad, angry and catty. The most unhealthy part about the article isn’t the author but rather the commenters. Some are far worse in their opinions and quite aggressive.
Look, I get it. Raising children is very tough (I come from a big family). But why do some feel the need to draw the comparison to their human kids and get pissed off about people who dote on their pets?
If pet parents wanted to get really nasty we could provide a detailed checklist on demand, of all the things that we see are absolutely wrong with their parenting style. Heck, I can give you my recommendations, critiques and opinions all day long. But why go there? Oh yeah that’s right, because it’s none of my mother effin business. The way pet parents conduct their lives with their babies should be of no concern to any outsider.
Many of these hate articles (yes hate) appear to reek of people who seem to feel that their own children are a burden or a chore. Now, you probably won’t get many coming forward with that notion, but when one constantly paints themselves as a victim who has it “so hard as a parent,” then you must ask, “What is the REAL problem here?” Do they want attention, gold stickers or just want us know that their hardships and struggle dwarf ours? They decided to have human kids, shouldn’t there be some sort of appreciation and gratitude shown for their children? Instead all I see is bitching, moaning and the constant need to invalidate others.
Unfortunately, sometimes these parents operate like a “mean girl” high school clique. Don’t think for one second that we don’t notice the forced smiles, awkward pauses and eye rolling when we gleefully show off and talk about our four-legged children. We know that you go home and tell your spouse how ridiculous we are, laugh at us with your friends and then run to your online mommy groups where you all trash pet parents while simultaneously reassuring yourselves about how special you are and how we will never know the true joy’s of parenthood. Of course, most pet parents are too polite to ever call out this pernicious behavior.
Perhaps what perturbs me the most is when a Mom or Dad gets irritated when a pet parent tries to empathize with them regarding raising children. Yeah, I freely admit that potty training your kid vs my fur kid isn’t the same (or whatever example you want to use) but that doesn’t mean I can’t have empathy or try to identify with what you’re going through. No one is trying to “take away your moment” or your truth. What pet parents are trying to do is find a commonality and a bond with you. Is that really so wrong? Maybe your head is so far up your ass you can’t see it.
I understand the love for a child is unlike anything most have experienced. But does that mean that if you get to experience loving a human child, your love is somehow superior to everyone else? If it does supersede the love I have for my fur-kids, then I ask, why the negativity towards pet parents? Why does the love between a person and their four-legged children bother and threaten you so much?
What it looks like to me is that they feel as if those of us with fur-kids threaten their hegemonic grip on parenting. Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it? They can deny it all day long, but when you claim to be a “compassionate” and “loving” Mom/Dad then quickly turn around to spout vile things about pet parents, the idea doesn’t seem quite so ludicrous.
5 Compelling Scientific Facts
1. Science tells us that when gazing into our dogs eyes that it activates the same hormonal response that bonds us to infants.
2. Then you have a recent study tell us that people are more empathetic towards dogs rather than other humans. In fact, the empathy felt for babies and dogs were nearly identical.
3. We also have this study that says dogs bond with their “owners” similarly to how babies bond with their parents.
4. I also wrote about a study on when we are in each others company, that BOTH (human and dog) our stress and anxiety levels go down. Our hearts begin to beat as one.
5. Lastly, researchers in Vienna have determined that dogs do indeed see us as their parents.
BONUS: Before anyone starts to pull out the argument that dogs only like people because of food, you can refer to this small study here that says dogs actually prefer social rewards (praise) over food rewards. Sounds similar to human kids who need love, attention and appreciation doesn’t it?
What these scientific studies are showing is that DESPITE not being of the same species and not directly giving birth to our pets, there is an undeniable parent-child bond that exists.
To back up the science, a recent poll shows that 95% of those that have pets consider them to be family. While a bit dated, in a 2011 survey, nearly 60% of people that had pets were comfortable with referring to themselves as Mommy & Daddy (I can only surmise this has increased since then). Could that many people be, as one of the aforementioned authors say, “willfully confused?”
If you look up the word “parent” you’ll see several definitions, one of which says that a parent is either a protector or guardian. Wouldn’t you agree that as pet parents you are both a protector and guardian over your fur kids? Nowhere does it say that one needs to have human children in order to be considered a parent.
Since we are on the train of facts, I’ll direct your attention to this study and to this study. The first of which says that people with children in the U.S. are LESS HAPPY than those who are childless. The latter talks about how new parents are even more miserable than widowed spouses, and that 70% of subjects reported a decrease in happiness after their child was born. While it’s difficult to quantify “happiness” the research is rather telling. No, I am not saying that these studies are indicative of all people who have human children, but it begs the question: Could this possibly be the reason for some of the animosity towards pet parents?
My Life My Kids
It becomes quite tiresome when “haters” start to impose their own personal and judgmental beliefs on others. The values of the parental cartel and my values are vastly different (thank goodness). They don’t value the relationship I have with my fur babies and with the utmost sincerity, I couldn’t give two shits about how wonderful they think their children are. In all seriousness, how does it negatively affect their lives if one considers a four legged animal their child?
Do we ask you to pay our bills? Are we receiving tax credits or reimbursements from the government for the cost of raising our fur kids? Do most employers offer to subsidize our pet insurance premiums? No, no and no.
Oh I get it, so pet parents pay for everything themselves (vet expenses, etc), with no assistance whatsoever, but “haters” get to dictate how we should conduct our lives? That’s the biggest crock of B.S. ever. No one, especially the pompous, self-deluded parental police, is ever going to tell me or any other pet parent what they can and cannot do.
As a married gay male, my husband and I don’t have the privilege of popping out human kids on demand. It’s a lengthy process when you don’t have a uterus nor possess ovarian eggs at your disposal. There are many heterosexual couples that can’t have children either. I have several female friends, that, by no fault of their own, whom continuously have miscarriages. Many of them have fur-kids. Does that make them any less of a Mother? HELL F*CKING NO.
Now does this mean that pets are a substitute for those of us who can’t have human kids or that don’t want human kids? NOT AT ALL. What it means is that we were fortunate enough to have been blessed with a kind and gentle soul that just so happened to take the form of an animal.
One has to wonder, what is going on in someones life that they need to marginalize a group of people (and animals) that aren’t bothering with them at all? Why try and steal our joy, demean us and attempt to make pet parents feel inferior? There are some major insecurity issues that these people need to deal with.
Preach The Truth & Controversy
Fur babies need to be bathed, fed, cleaned, watched and cared for. Just like a parent would for a human child, many of us would go to the ends of the earth for our fur kids.
Here’s the god damn truth…pet parents are real parents. Just because a dog, cat, rabbit, bird, etc isn’t a human child, that doesn’t lessen one’s role or responsibility to them.
When they are sick, a visit to the Doctor is in order. When they do something good, you give praise and when they do something bad you discipline. When they are growing up you teach them right from wrong. When they get old, start to ache and lose their memory, you do what you can to ease those pains and help keep their minds active. When they get cancer and don’t have the strength to eat, you not only make them the most amazing meals but also sit there and hand-feed them piece by piece. When they want to play, you drop what you’re doing and devote time to giving them your undivided attention. When they want to snuggle and shower you with love, you embrace it and end up feeling like the richest person in the world.
Not to ruffle anyone’s feathers, but, for some, it is harder to be a parent to a pet than it is to a human child. I say that with the utmost respect for all Mom’s and Dad’s. Many personal friends of mine who have human kids often tell me that taking care of their fur baby (Yes even people with human kids refer to their pets as their children too) can be more difficult.
While a controversial topic, you need to view this through lenses other than your own. No two individuals experiences will ever be the same. Having children will not always change someones life for the better and having fur-kids will not always have a profound effect either.
I will say though, I tend to agree with my friends when it comes to “certain situations” regarding the challenges of being a parent to a fur-kid vs being a parent to a human child.
Why you ask? Well in addition to not being able to speak, fur kids technically don’t grow up. Adult dogs will typically have the mind of a 2-2.5 year old child. That means your pup will be a perpetual toddler and you will forever be their voice.
Think about this: At age 12 a child is on their way to becoming a teenager. They are striving for more individuality and figuring out their identity. Dependence upon their caretakers begins to wane.
Now think about this: At age 12 a dog is becoming geriatric. They are beginning to feel the effects of aging and tend to become less outgoing. Dependence upon their caretakers begins to increase.
Most human kids eventually grow into independent adults and will lead their own lives. Pet’s do not even have that opportunity. They will depend on their human parent(s) for EVERYTHING. The saying goes that a parent should never have to bury their child, well for many pet parents, because of their shorter lives we end up doing just that….many times over. It is a heartbreaking and sad reality.
Bottom line: Being a parent to a human or pet is equally as challenging as it is rewarding. Furthermore, as pet parents we don’t tell you how to raise your kids or what to call them. So kindly refrain from imparting your insecurities & nonsensical words of wisdom upon us.
PET PARENTS WANTED
I always see different magazines, publications and organizations praising Mom’s and Dad’s. I think that’s wonderful because in my opinion, there is nothing more hard and yet fulfilling than being a parent.
With that said, I want to do something similar and special for pet parents. I’m starting a bi-monthly feature called Parents ‘N’ The Power of Paws.
Parents ‘N’ The Power Of Paws is about celebrating and honoring Pet Parents. It is also about shining light on the beautiful and unbreakable bond between parents and their fur kids.
This feature will include an interview with YOU (the pet parent). In the interview we will discuss a little about your background, how your fur-baby came into your life and the power/impact that they have had on you. We can go into a ton of other fun stuff as well and if you have something to promote (a business, charity, etc), I am more than happy to let you talk about it.
If you’re interested in being interviewed, send a photo of you and your pup to admin at dogadvertiser.com
I’ll get back to you promptly and we will take it from there! 🙂
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