Pets are becoming "surrogate children" as couples seek fewer responsibilities

Families looking to save money, but pets are still a significant emotional investment

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Couples are increasingly adopting pets instead of having families as economic realities mean they are delaying having children.

Having and raising children costs money and time and too many are too busy working to make money, to buy things they do not need but which have been suggested to them by advertising that they do.

A pet dog or cat may become a "surrogate child", and be given the family position of a boy or girl, without many of the responsibilities such as clothing or schooling. However, many are not prepared for the emotional investment that a pet requires.

It is indeed true that to many a couple or also singe person a pet, whether cat or dog, becomes a substitute for a child and, alas, they also treat it as such. This is not good, in most cases, for the animal and neither the owner.

According to one psychologist animals have become surrogates for children and appeal to our need to nurture. We have even, so this psychologist said, selectively bred dogs to make them more like children... to be attuned to our emotions and to give unconditional love.

However, pet owners need to be aware that pets don't behave in the same way as children do and it is very easy indeed for a great many to fall into the trap of treating them as a human and ending up with all sorts of behavioral problems.

A dog or cat is not a little person even if they act like a toddler. Some things – such as giving them certain human foods – can be positively dangerous.

As long as owners are prepared for the responsibilities, there is not much wrong with treating a a dog or even a cat as a fully-fledged family member but there are limits.

Responsibility as a parent and responsibility as a pet owner are very much the same thing. As long as they're treated with care, a pet can quite easily become a 'surrogate child', and like a child, they have got to be treated with care and respect.

Too many people, however, in their wish and need to nurture, but not wanting to give a child room in their lives, get a dog or cat only to realize that it is almost as hard work as having a child and then, unlike they would with a child, abandon the animal.

On the other hand, a dog or cat also do not belong in the house – and medical science has proven that to have them indoors is bad for human health – and definitely not in the living room, the bedroom or the children's rooms. Neither should a cat be permitted to roam the kitchen, where they will clamber about all over the place, including the work tops.

While, as said above, a god or cat can become a member of the family, they do not belong indoors and they have their specific jobs. The cat to hunt mice and other varmint and the dog to protect, in his way according to his breed, his humans, or herd sheep, cattle or whatever. Pets are not children and should not be treated as such. We do not do them any favor by doing it.

© 2013