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Separated Dad Asks About New Pets

By Jodie Lynn


I am a separated dad. My children are eight and nine. They stay at my house two nights per week. They have been begging me for kittens for a long time. Their mom doesn't want cats. I was going to surprise them for Christmas. However, am I creating a problem due to the fact that they can only see the kittens two nights per week? Will it create anxiety for them thinking about the next time they are going to see the cats? Am I taking away from them looking forward to seeing and spending time with me? Or, am I fulfilling one of their childhood dreams?


I am a divorced dad and my children were not allowed to have pets in their mom's house. They had been asking for a puppy for several months. We went to the animal shelter and adopted one that wasn't really a puppy but not yet a full grown adult dog. Although I was skeptical in the beginning, and my ex-wife was upset, it has turned into a great situation for the kids as well as for me. The dog is very loving and I look forward to seeing her each day after work. The kids love her and she loves them. So far, it's been awesome. - C. J. in New York City, NY


One of the things you need to be sure of is that you are not getting the kittens out of guilt due to the separation. Animals require quite a bit of time, patience and love, especially if they are still babies. As long as you are prepared to take care of them, it should prove to be a fulfilling situation for everyone. If you feel that two kittens would add too much to your schedule, perhaps consider only getting one. The kids will love one just as much as two. Although they will be quite excited to visit with the kitten(s) and it might seem like the majority of their attention will be focused on the animal scenario--it may even be much of what they talk about for a while--just remember that it was you who made this little dream come true and they won't forget that. You will definitely be the hero in their eyes. As far as the kids being separated from the kittens goes, consider taking pictures and sending them to the kids in email updates. You could also get some framed for the them to take home. Last but not least, be sure to get the kids involved with the not-so-fun duties of caring for an animal; they need to empty the litter box too. Teaching them responsibility as well as tenderness and follow-through, will be a terrific endeavor and will hopefully build great memories for you and your children.

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My 13-year-old just started a new middle school. All of a sudden, he wants to buy and wear all black. His dad doesn't want him to do so mainly because it looks like a type of gang-related stigma. However, it's the only thing he has ever asked to do. What should we consider in either allowing this or not?

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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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