Families with pets and children living side by side are among the happiest households of all. Your pets can practically become members of the family themselves, and many are the best companions children could hope to have–loyal, playful, and unconditionally loving. Your pets may also provide a much-needed sense of security in the home. Some extraordinary pets even save the lives of children. However, if there is one tragic downfall of having pets around, it would most certainly be their shorter lives. The unfortunately short lives of your pets mean that they will eventually be lost to you, and this something that many children are not prepared to deal with.
Explaining the loss of a pet to your children can be a difficult matter. Naturally, they are going to notice when a pet is suddenly gone, and the close relationships that children often build with their animal companions make this essentially similar to the loss of a friend. For some parents, the decision has been to tell a little white lie and have their children believe that the pet has run away, or something to that effect. This, however, is not a great plan. Children eventually find out the truth behind these events, and they’re often cleverer than you think.
Taking the easy way out and tip-toeing around the subject of loss is not a great idea, and in fact in can be one of the worst. In benefits, children to understand from an early age that many things in life are not permanent, that there eventually comes an end to life. Teach them not to be depressed by the loss of a friend, but to rejoice for the many wonderful times they’ve had in the past. The death of a pet doesn’t have to be a sorrowful event–you’ve given them a happy and comfortable life full of fun and love, and this is what you should teach your children to focus on.
One facet of this sort of realization is that children may start seriously thinking about mortality for the first time. This can be a scary concept to face at such a young age, but it needs to be addressed eventually. After all, growing up and facing painful realities is a natural part of life–as natural as life or death. Depending on your religious beliefs, you may be able to offer your children some assurance about the uncertain future. Uncertainty is one of the most frightening things of all, so providing a possible explanation of what’s to come may be comforting.
Whether your pet’s loss was the result of simple old age or the unfortunate meeting of dogs and chocolate, the reality of this loss is something that you and your children will have to face together. These events may be equally heart-wrenching for you, but remember that your children are still young and need guidance in how to cope with the loss. Try not to dwell on sadness or be depressed by death–celebrate life instead.