About a month ago, Slate ran an article by Allison Benedikt titled “The One Thing No One Tells You Before You Have Kids: Don’t get a dog.“Â The article is peppered with some questionable jokes (e.g. “A friend of mine once told me that before he had a kid, he would have run into a burning building to save his cats. Now that he has a kid, he would happily drown the cats in the bathtub if it would help his son take a longer nap.”), and when I posted it on the STFU Facebook page, it got a HUGE (and very emotional) response. Some people said the article was tongue-in-cheek and meant to be taken lightheartedly. Some people empathized and said they, too, have been unable to give their pets the attention they used to give them before kids entered their lives. But most people were deeply upset by the article, in which the author makes light of being a slightly negligent “dog mom” now that she has three kids under age five, and criticized her for writing the article in the first place. And that was just on Facebook.
On Slate, more than 4,000 commenters expanded on those sentiments, calling out the author for being flippant about a living creature (albeit a dog and not a human), and offering a different perspective: That owning a dog before having children is great preparation for being a parent. Many people saw what I did, which was a person so overwhelmed by her chaotic family life, she thought it would be amusing to share her experiences with others who could potentially relate. Unfortunately, the entertainment value was trumped by the uncomfortable descriptions of how she and her husband deal with the dog now that they have three kids to raise. Granted, it’s no secret that once babies are in the picture, a pet takes a bit of a backseat. Caring for a human is more stressful and requires more attention than caring for a dog or a cat (or any other domesticated pet). But even though some parents agreed with the author’s general message, I still came across a lot of comments from parents that said, essentially, “I get what she’s saying, but our pets are members of our family and deserve the same sufficient love, respect, and attention as any other member.”
With that in mind, I wanted to present several examples of the ways parents talk about pets (their pets, their neighbors’ pets, etc.) on social media, because there are ways to do it right and ways to do it very, very wrong. Whether you’re trying to relocate a pet post-baby, complaining that a neighbor’s dog won’t stop barking during nap time and needs to be “offed,” or just hearing from paranoid people who believe pets and children are a dangerous combination (which is purely circumstantial), parent-pet talk on social media is a common point of interest. Let’s check out a few examples:
1. Paranoia Will Destroy Ya
This mom has good intentions and is thoughtfully discussing the future relationships her children will have with their “fur-siblings,” a cute term of endearment that speaks volumes about how she thinks of her family’s pets. Unfortunately for her, though, R. is a crazy person who tells others what to do with their children AND still believes the old wives’ tale that cats suffocate babies. Tough break, D.