Maybe you were bitten by a dog as a child, or maybe there was a dog on your street that barked loudly at you when you walked by. For whatever reason, you find yourself among the population of folks who are afraid of dogs. Whether this fear was brought on as a child or an adult, it is a hard fear to deal with. There are dogs everywhere, and just like people, some dogs really are fear-worthy, while others are nearly saint-like in their temperaments.
You're a parent now, bringing up your children Dennis and Stephanie. With increasing regularity, as the holidays approach, and around their birthdays, they've begun asking for a dog. They want a family pet, and they want it to be a dog. They've even picked out a Terrier named "Smurfette." This puts you in an interesting position - do you confront your fear and get a dog, or do you perpetuate the issue, and teach your kids to be fearful of dogs as well?
What's Good For Your Kids?
As a parent, your first consideration should be what is good for your kids. Not just what they want, but what will benefit them in the long run as human beings. Studies have shown that kids who grow up with dogs for pets learn responsibility and time management - i.e. taking Smurfette out, feeding her, and playing with her, all while balancing their chores and homework. It is also shown that there is a correlation between kids who own dogs and physical fitness because of the time they spend outside running and playing with their canine companion.
Not only are the health benefits of having a dog clear and indisputable, but as our culture moves further into the age of technology, there are studies showing that dogs are one of the things that keep humans engaged in life outside of their smartphones, virtual games and the Internet.
In addition, teaching your children to fear what you fear doesn't do either of you any favors. Dennis and Stephanie need to grow and change and feel and learn on their own. Enforcing your fear on them only allows the fear to grow. The likelihood that your own fear would be exacerbated by your children's fears is great.
What's Good For You?
Whatever experiences lead you to fear dogs in the first place may be outweighed by the love and the fun that Smurfette brings to your family. Learning that dogs, like people, come from many different molds may turn your fear to wariness, and your wariness to knowledge. Knowledge that a dog might be dangerous is completely different from feeling that every dog is dangerous.
In most cases, the best way to dispel your fears is to confront them. Letting a dog into your life may help you slough the weight of your fear once and for all. This being said, flooding yourself isn't a good idea. Suddenly having a dog present at all times may be very overwhelming. If your kids have picked out Smurfette, visit her first, then try it one more time, and then bring her home if the first two experiences go well. Consulting a counselor may help you take the right steps at the right pace so that you don't overwhelm yourself.
Allowing Smurfette into your family may also help to bring you and your kids, Dennis and Stephanie closer together, especially if you are honest with them about your fears. Letting a canine into your life is usually synonymous with letting her into your heart - never underestimate what the power of love can do. In fact, your kids' love for you, and their love for Smurfette may have a healing effect that you wouldn't have thought possible.