Pet trend: Couples choosing pets over raising children

By on September 14, 2013

Couples who are of child rearing age are increasingly choosing to raise dogs, cats, birds, snakes, and other pets over children. Why and how could this be? We’ve delved into the idea and interviewed a couple that has done just that.

Interestingly, we at PetsInOmaha have located a statistic that surprised us a bit about this concept. According to this article, a survey was recently conducted about the issue. Here’s a snippet from the information collected:

“Flexcin International, Inc., a company that makes natural supplements for humans and pets, saying that according to its recent survey, more Americans are electing to house dogs over kids. The company polled 1,250 pet owners nationwide (ages 21 to 30) about their attitudes on child rearing and pet adoption. When asked what’s a better fit for them, more than half (54 percent) of respondents said dogs; 46 percent said children. When asked why they prefer dogs, 34 percent of respondents said they’re not sure if they can handle the needs of raising a child; 28 percent said they don’t have the time to raise a child; 21 percent said kids are more expensive than dogs; and 17 percent said they “just love” dogs more than kids.”

Other factors cited elsewhere include:

  • Middle-aged couples are entrenched in their careers in such a way that raising kids, and tending to the responsibilities that go along with that, is just not a good fit.
  • Others are hesitant to take on child-rearing in fear of being inadequate parents.
  • Some couples simply don’t like the idea of raising children.
  • Other couples are satisfied with raising pets because they provide an experience not unlike that of raising children; pets require less maintenance, less financial means, and don’t prevent people from continuing the lifestyles they want to lead.

Don’t get us wrong- we all love our pets, but some of us just don’t feel compelled to raise children- and there’s nothing wrong with that. Previous articles here at PetsInOmaha list the myriad of physical, emotional, and social benefits of raising pets. Choosing pets over kids is simply a lifestyle choice; not unlike choosing one car over another, picking “this” style home compared to another, or one diet instead of another choice. We embrace our pets as if they were our kids; in fact, some even call their pets their “children.” We certainly don’t disparage those who choose pets over kids. Happiness is the key to life and raising kids simply isn’t conducive to the concept of happiness for some of us.

This Female First article gives us some insight on the minds of those who choose pets over kids. It says:

“According to one psychologist: “Animals are surrogates for children and appeal to our need to nurture. We’ve even selectively bred dogs to make them more like children…to be attuned to our emotions and to give unconditional love.”

It’s hard to argue with psychology and this little anecdote proves to us that pets truly are a viable and happiness-creating option to child rearing.

One Omaha couple, Ryan and Kristi, decided early on in their relationship that kids were just not the way to go for them. In an interview with the couple to gain some of their feelings and insight, we gathered much proof that the trend is common and works for many young-to-middle-aged couples.

Kristi explained that they “decided within the first year of our marriage not to have children. We already had a cat and one dog at that time.” The couple’s experience with animals prior to their marriage surely prepared them for raising animals (or children), but pets were the obvious choice for them personally.
The couple has been married for nearly a decade and currently have 4 dogs.
“We loved the idea of being able to rescue dogs, which we can continue to do as they age and pass,” the couple says. “Children are wonderful for most families, but they are a greater financial commitment. We are able to rescue at any age.”
In this regard, it makes a great deal of sense to take on animals as a means to nurture and care for our little dependents, whether they have two legs or four. Rescuing dogs will surely continue for this couple and many others, regardless of their ages.
The traditional family which chooses to raise children or children and pets may argue that the happiness that pets bring can’t measure up to that of raising kids. Kristi argues otherwise:
“Having dogs are a pure source of joy, as nothing they do is malicious, and they bring love and companionship. They complete our family unit.” This statement gives us a genuine sense that pet raising truly can measure up to that of child rearing. The joy on the faces of Kristi and Ryan one can see when they are in the presence of their family unit is apparent as they glow whenever one of their four Shih Tzus does something to elicit a smile.
Whether we own pets or not, we all know that commitment still needs to be there for our furry friends. “Pets require a strong level of commitment and responsibility from the owner and, just like children, they need to be ‘raised’ or ‘trained,’ as it were.” Pet owners surely understand this sentiment from the couple as dogs, cats, or whatever animal we choose to raise requires a lot of hard work and effort. While the financial burden is lower, we don’t necessarily need day care or formal schooling or training, and we don’t have to always be by our pet’s side, there are a number of daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly responsibilities when it comes to caring for our animals.
In summation, the couple says this about the joy and happiness that choosing to raise pets exclusively can bring:
“Pets are such an adventure, since you have to create a bond with them without language. They are entertaining, frustrating, and sometimes infuriating, but at the end of the day, their little faces are the last we want to see.”
While some may revel in the satisfaction of putting their kids down for the night knowing that they’ve been taken care of and made happy, other feel the same level of happiness and edification with their pets. Kristi and Ryan are a great example of why couples are increasingly choosing to raise animals over children.
The image featured with this article is of Foxy, one of Ryan and Kristi’s little ones. Check the pet gallery for their other three pups.
Do you call yourself and your pets a “family unit?” Why have you chosen to rear animals over kids? We’d love to hear your comments and reasons for choosing the path that Ryan and Kristi (and many others) have taken.

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