Family Pets: A Series on Character-Building (and a book giveaway for MomThink readers!)

       submit to reddit

Instilling character values in our young children takes commitment and hard work. But sometimes, wonderful opportunities for character-building are right in front of us! Most families own a pet of some kind, but parents often overlook the many opportunities for rich lessons that appear while caring for pets.

Caring for animals and, specifically, family pets, is one of the ways children have learned important skills and lessons for generations. As so many parents know, taking care of animals can teach children important lessons in responsibility, in unselfishness, in compassion; taking care of pets can help children learn to care for those more vulnerable than them. Finally, taking care of family animals can help children to learn discover the natural world around them.

In a world in which academics and learning assessments are beginning to monopolize the educational scene and in which opportunities for children to learn through play and natural settings are shrinking, it’s important for parents to remember that key character development takes place during even mundane events like taking the family dog to the vet.

And in an increasingly disconnected world, it’s important as parents to remind our children that our interactions with the natural world affect our well-being. Being aware of our food sources, considering our impact on the environment, and caring for weaker creatures in our neighborhood are all an important part of this story.

Over the next few weeks, MomThink will be publishing a series of posts to help parents draw out character-building lessons from the interactions between their children and the family pets. This series of posts is being published as a coordinated effort between MomThink and The Every Living Thing Campaign.

Every Living Thing is deeply committed to instilling character values in children through interactions with animals and the natural world and is offering a free copy of Finding Danny to any MomThink members who sign the Every Living Thing Statement on Responsible Animal Care on behalf of their children. Finding Danny is a Scholastic award-winning tale about one child’s search for his beloved pet.

To receive a free book for your child, simply do the following:

  • Sign the statement.
  • Send an email to BOTH and and use the subject line “I Just Signed” to be added to both the Every Living Thing and MomThink email community lists.
  • Place your mailing address in the body of the email to receive a copy of Finding Danny.

For practical encouragement on building character through your child’s interactions with your family’s pets, stay tuned for the rest of this series!

Image Credit: HSUS

Emily McCord is an independent writer and policy and communications consultant. She is a two-time English major, holding a B.A. from Belhaven University and an M.A. from Indiana University. A former Congressional staffer and teacher, Emily currently lives in Texas with her husband and 1-year-old son. Emily encourages women as they juggle career pursuits, healthy lifestyles, and family life at The Orange Slate. You can follow Emily on Instagram (@emilyamccord) or Twitter (@emilyamccord).