It’s always seemed a bit weird to me when pet owners refer to themselves as the “mommy” or “daddy” of their pet — they would, at the very least, have to be adoptive parents, because as far as I can tell, only one member of the family is furry and walks on all fours. However, it seems as though there might be more to this pets-as-children mindset than I’m giving it credit for: A new study found that your pet raising skills could predict your parenting skills. More precisely, the study found a link between obesity in pets and in children, meaning that how your feed your pet is a good precursor to how you will approach food when it comes to raising a child.
The study, conducted by Alexander German and published in the British Journal of Nutrition , was interested in exploring the link between pets, pet owners, and obesity in children. Dogs with overweight owners are apparently more likely to be overweight; furthermore, Pacific Standard Magazine reports that, in a rate similar to humans, 34-59 percent of dogs are overweight. German’s study found that both pets’ weights and childhood obesity are linked to the attitude of the parents, parenting style, and the family food environment.
German’s study didn’t provide any grand revelations, but rather pointed to the ways that studying the underlying causes for obesity in pets could help with finding and understanding further the causes for childhood obesity. For example, the four main parenting styles — authoritative, authoritarian, indulgent, and uninvolved — are easily seen in pet rearing. Constantly feeding Fluffy scraps from the table? Indulgent. Binxy can only eat breakfast at precisely 8 AM and dinner at 7 PM on the dot each night? Authoritarian. So, calling a furry friend a child substitute might be a more serious statement than we thought. The good news, though, is that raising a pet is a great way to get trial-and-error practice before becoming a parent of an actual human being.
This study makes me wonder what other facets of pet ownership might translate into raising children. Does occasionally forgetting to feed the cat mean that we'll have to seriously shape up when we want kids? Does attacking the dog with unwanted kisses mean that we'll be smothering parents? Here are a few habits of pet owners that I suspect would make good parenting practices… and some that absolutely won’t.
1. Dressing Them Up For the Holidays
Let’s be honest — it’s unlikely that an animal or a baby likes this, but the cards just turn out so cute!
2. Not Exercising Them
Not taking your dog out for a day isn’t a great for your pet, but it’s horrible for a kid. Both need to stay active in order to be happy and healthy.
3. Giving Plenty of Belly Rubs
Showing affection is great for any kind of parenting, and really, belly rubs are awesome.
4. Letting Them Eat Their Poop
Okay, so this is more of a dog thing, but still — it's probably not great for your baby either.
Images: Giphy (5)