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A Puppy for Christmas?

By Jodie Lynn


I'd like to get my five-year-old a puppy for Christmas, but fear he may be too young. How can I decide? Or, what could be substituted for it?


Our seven-year-old daughter wanted a kitten last year; her father got one for her. It was a disaster! She played with it for around three to four weeks and then told us to take it back if she had to feed him and clean the litter box, which we talked with her about beforehand. If your son wants a pet, get something that doesn't require time, patience and training. - Sam P. in Park City, UT


It may depend on if your son is an older five-year-old (as in nearly six), whether or not he has had pets in the past and how his reaction to, patience with and responsibility for them was. These are all important factors you might want to consider in helping you to determine if he is truly ready for a puppy. However, just as important: are you ready? Puppies consume an enormous amount of time, training, feeding, entertaining, monitoring and unconditional love. Some like to roughhouse more than others as well as like to chew just about everything in sight. You can almost bet your last dollar that something that you or your son cares about will be chewed on or possibly ruined. Puppies can actually become quite costly with all of the shots, food, toys, a crate, etc. Children up to age eight or nine that are being taught how to take care of puppies, kittens or any kind of animal that is growing and requires upkeep still need to be supervised, especially since the needs of animals change fairly quickly while they go through various playful and inquisitive moods and rapid growth spurts. There's always the chance of them getting sick as well. It's pretty close to having another child. Since your son is only five, most of the responsibility will likely fall on your shoulders. If you have plenty of time to spare, and he has done well with caring for a pet previously, then go ahead with your decision. Don't forget that dogs that are already done with the puppy stage also make awesome family pets. Or, if you would rather wait until he gets a little older, perhaps he may be excited to have a couple of fish, lizards or whatever. That can help you teach him how to properly take care of another life before getting a puppy.

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My son just started eighth grade this year and lives with his mom and her new husband. He usually enjoys coming over and spending at least every other week with me. However, he is beginning to pull away from our time together just to spend time with his friends. I realize that they are getting more important by the day, but to be honest, it's pretty upsetting to me. How can I snap out of this pity party mood?

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© Jodie Lynn
Jodie Lynn is an award-winning internationally syndicated family/health columnist and radio personality. Her syndicated column Parent to Parent has been successful for over 10 years and appears in newspapers, magazines, newsletters and throughout the Internet. She is a regular contributor to several sites including,,,,, and Lynn has written four books and contributed to three others, one of which was on Oprah and has appeared on NBC in a three month parenting segment. Her latest books are "Mom CEO (Chief Everything Officer) - Having, Doing and Surviving It All!" (June 2006) and "Syndication Secrets - What No One Will Tell You!" (March 2006).
Please visit for details on her new radio talk show, Inside Parenting Success.


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