The idea of bringing a whole new human to the world is scary, and increasingly young women aren’t having children as frequently as they used to — whether it’s the economy, or the usual fear of being a bad parent or upending your life and goals, parenting is daunting. But if you and your partner are considering adding a human to your family, some psychologists recommend adding an animal to your family first.
“Having a pet with a significant other is a test to see if a person will be a good caretaker for another living thing,” Laura says. “It allows you to answer a tough question: Is this someone I can have children with?”
Ask any newbies to parenting, and they’ll tell you that it’s impossible to predict or fully understand how having a baby will change your life, sleeping patterns, and relationship dynamic. But parenting a pet can be a great test run! And, like, how could you say no to a…
Adopting a pet will prepare you for being constantly on the go, wary of quiet (you never know what they’re getting into!), and help accustom you to prioritizing somebody else’s needs above your own.
Get home after a long day and want to curl up on your couch and veg? Not until after you’ve walked Fido. Looking forward to a night of uninterrupted sleep? Not while you’re housebreaking your new puppy. Thinking about booking a spontaneous weekend away? Not without making arrangements for a petsitter first.
While taking care of a dog or cat isn’t the same level of commitment (we’re *not* comparing a human baby to a dog, trust), it does require you to adjust your way of thinking and going about your daily routine.
It’ll give you an idea of how your relationship will hold up when you and your partner are sleep deprived, and how well you’ll communicate to make sure your pet is getting the attention it needs.
On average, it costs around $200,000 to raise a kid to adulthood. While raising a border collie isn’t nearly that expensive, caring for a pet will also help you and your partner understand what it’s like to have a dependent, and show you how quickly costs can add up in case of emergency.
Of course, not everybody agrees! While getting a pet can give you a taste of what life with a baby will be like for you and your partner, and how your relationship and communication skills will hold up under stress, it’s also worth considering that if your dry run goes well, you’ll end up with a puppy and a baby.
As Allison Benedikt writes in an article about her relationship with her dog post-baby For Slate:
“I can only say this: To all you young couples, thinking, ‘We should get a dog!’ ‘I love you, let’s get a dog!’ ‘We’re not ready for kids, but what about a dog?!’—don’t get a dog. Or, if you do get a dog, don’t have kids.”
Ultimately, it’s your life. You do what’s best for you.