Moms understand that being a mother means being someone who nurtures. You help another being make their way in life. For those with fur children, you know that the lessons learned when raising your four-legged kids will translate quite well to the human ones. There are those who have chosen not to have children, but there’s no doubt that the pets in their home are as much their children as a human one.
We raised our child based on simple principles learned in training horses: be quick to praise when they get the action you want at least half right, in so doing you’ll get the desired action 100% pretty quickly; train them right the first time or you’ll be re-training (horses only have to complete something twice and you now have a trained behavior); punish in relation to the severity of the undesireable action; and spend time with them just petting and brushing them to build trust and let them know they are loved.
We had raised a number of animals before we became parents. Our son grew up with animals all around him: the big black tom cat that adopted us who would sleep with our son in his bassinette, the dogs who played with him and would protect him with their lives if need be; the blue rats that were his responsibility alone and from which he learned early on the cycle of life; the horses which he never had a lot of interest in unless a friend was over (then he wanted to ride), except for Chip who as a two-year-old my son and this young horse would play king of the mountain together on the dirt pile. When my son hugged his neck, Chip always “hugged” him back–he didn’t do this with anyone else.
The animals in the house taught our son compassion, respect for other living beings, patience, and sensitivity that can only come from the responsibility of taking care of another life. Moms understand this. With responsibility for another life, we learn to put that life before our own. There are sacrifices, frustrations, pleasant surprises, and the feeling of pride in their accomplishments that we don’t often feel in our own.
I’m a firm believer that every child should be raised with at least one pet. They learn lessons from participating in caring for a pet that are difficult to teach, they have to be learned by doing. And they learn a respect for all animals that stays with them for life. Yet, they also learn from us as moms, so teach them a pet is a lifetime commitment, not that they are disposable when it should be “inconvenient” to have one; how to show them love; and to raise a four-legged companion to have good manners.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there who are raising human and fur kids–you’re making the world a better place one life at a time.