What to Do When Your Kids Want a Pet But One Parent Says No!

Whether they're objecting because of allergies, money, or time, we’ve got solutions.

It happens all too often: The kids are begging for a cute puppy or a fat, fluffy cat, and Mom is on board—but Dad is totally against the idea (or vice versa). Maybe one parent gets the sniffles any time he so much as sees a picture of a tabby, or hates the idea of all that dog or cat hair messing up the house. Maybe there’s concern that the pet will disrupt the family lifestyle too much. Whatever the reason for the stalemate, we have some simple solutions.

1

Roadblock: Allergies

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Photo by Patrick Bennett/Getty Images

If you’re worried about allergies, of course you can always compromise with a pet that won’t make anyone sneeze, such as a turtle or a playful pair of African dwarf frogs. But you could get a cat or a dog if you take steps to keep allergies at bay. For instance, keep the pet out of your bedroom, wash your hands with soap and water after petting him, run a HEPA filter in the house, and use a high-efficiency vacuum cleaner (frequently) to limit allergens. Also, talk to your doctor about taking allergy medications, such as antihistamines, eye drops, or a series of shots that may eventually eliminate your allergies for good.

2

Roadblock: Time

It’s important not to be fooled by your little one’s promises to care for the animal. “While kids can certainly help care for a pet, remember it’s still primarily the parents’ responsibly,” says Zak George, the most-subscribed dog trainer on YouTube and author of Zak George’s Dog Training Revolution: The Complete Guide to Raising the Perfect Pet with Love. “If you want a lower-maintenance dog, make sure that you choose one with low energy,” he adds. “At the shelter or pet store, look for the one who interacts with you and other dogs but isn't a little Energizer Bunny, engaged in sustained, energetic play. Typically, they'll run up to you and wag their tails, but they won't incessantly jump all over you demanding constant attention.” Or start with something requiring little time commitment, like a fish tank, and see how your kids do with that.

3

Roadblock: Money

Owning a pet can be expensive. In fact, Americans spend nearly $70 billion every year on pet food, vet care, and supplies. Of course, most people who spend hundreds or even thousands on their cats or dogs will tell you that their beloved pets are worth every penny. Don’t want to spend that much? You can get a bird for less than $20 and spend $387 a year on care. Another option: A guinea pig costs $50 or less, while caring for one costs only $374 annually. Challenge your kids to raise half the money required by selling lemonade, baby-sitting, or pet-sitting (good practice!). If they truly want that pet, they’ll find a way to raise the the funds.