I think regardless of your personal feelings on pets, parents of tweens and teens should buy a dog. Dogs love everything about their owners, they are grateful just to be there, and they get so excited when you come home. They also are so sad when you leave the house because they just want to be with you. They mimic the same emotions our sweet babies and toddlers and young elementary school age children exhibit. They’re all just so sweet, they love us no matter what, and they just want to spend time with us. Then our children become tweens.
Every child is different of course, but for me once the kids turned fourteen or so, they began shutting bedroom doors, answering “How was your day?” with one word, and choosing watching TV over family game night. It seemed to happen overnight and it made me feel extremely unwanted.
Oh, they were all sunshine and roses when they needed a ride somewhere. But otherwise I gave many lectures on attitude, gratitude, and staying engaged with the family. My lectures seem to fall on deaf ears, but I persisted. Then they turned sixteen and I graduated from chauffeur to calendar girl. “Where are you going? Who’s going with you? What time will you be home?” I should have just handed them an itinerary and had them fill in the blanks-that would have been so much easier. I got used to a quiet house and watching the TV shows I wanted to watch. I thought to myself “This is what it’s going to be like when they leave home. Only it will be all the time.”
My husband and I enjoyed the quiet time, but we missed feeling that our kids actually liked us. Fortunately, we had the dog-he always wanted us around, didn’t complain about the TV shows we watched or the jokes we told. He was just happy to be around us-just like the kids used to be.
We started taking walks with the dog, and bringing him to the grocery store. He was so happy to spend even more time with us and was grateful for the opportunity to go somewhere. He had no movie plans or sleepovers-his sole purpose in life was to be with us.
I have to tell you-that dog really helped me feel better about the inevitable transition from teenager to young adult. If I hadn’t had him, I think I probably would have had an even worse time emotionally.
Now the kids come home to visit and we have a great relationship. I have adjusted to them visiting rather than living at home. They tell me the dog is horribly spoiled, and I agree. It’s his reward for helping me survive the kids leaving the nest.
Please comment and let me know your thoughts on this post. Please share any experiences you’ve had surviving the kids leaving home for good.