Is the Term “Pet Parent” Appropriate?

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Around our neighborhood, I'm best known as "Kitsune's mom".  I find it funny that people remember Kit's name, but not my own.  It's okay, because I'm honored to be called his mom.  Lately there's been a blog post circulating in which a mom to human children, rather harshly, states why she feels owners of pets should not consider themselves to be moms.  I was especially interested in the comments of the post, and started writing one of my own, but had so much to say that I decided to post about it here instead.

This isn't the first time I've addressed this topic either.  I'd love to hear other people's opinions.  What are your thoughts on pet guardians calling themselves their pet's mom or dad?  Comment below!  Just keep it civil, please.

dddddddddddddddI'm not the type of person who likes to cause conflict, and I always try to understand both sides of every story.  I don't have human children of my own, so admittedly I may not fully understand what it's like to raise a child.  However, I'm always a bit taken aback at some of the negative comments towards pet owners who choose to refer to themselves as their pet's mom or dad.

When a dog has puppies, we refer to that dog as a mother, despite the fact that her babies are dogs and not humans.  People who adopt human children are still considered to be mothers, despite the fact that they didn't give birth to the kids they are raising.  If dogs can be mothers, and humans who have never given birth can be mothers, is it really that crazy to consider humans caring for other species to be mothers too?

 

I've seen some mothers of human babies argue that there are facets of motherhood that pet owners will just never experience.  Their babies growing up and going to college, or getting married, for example.  But do those things define motherhood?  After all, not all children go to college, or get married, and we would never say that a mother of a child who decided to remain single is in fact not a mother.  The experience of motherhood is something that is beautifully unique to each mother.

Being a mother is not about giving birth.  It's not a title you earn, or some elite club you get into only by raising a member of your own species.  To me, it transcends individual differences, yes even including species differences.  Describing someone as a mother is an attempt to use a single word to encompass the unexplainable amount of unconditional love, compassion, hard work, and heartbreak that comes with being responsible for the life of another living being.

Some mothers choose to care for pets.  Others choose to have human children.  Some have both, and some fall into their rolls rather than actively choosing them.  No matter how we come to care for our charges, no matter how our relationships with them differ, we all have something in common.  Our hearts reside not in one body, but two (or more).  We love another living being, and because there often aren't words to describe the love we feel for our charges, we call ourselves mothers.  I think that's a similarity we should embrace and celebrate.

And that brings me back to the conclusion in my original post about this topic.  Does it really even matter what we choose to call ourselves?  Live and let live.  Pet guardians choosing to refer to themselves as their dog's parents really shouldn't diminish the relationship anyone has for their human child.  It's just a word, and at the end of the day, there are much much more important issues we should be focusing our efforts on than what other people choose to call themselves.

  • "Pet parent" doesn't bother me at all, but calling your pet your son or daughter definitely does.

    • Interesting. Is there any specific reason why you're okay with the term "pet parent" but people referring to their pets as their son/daughter bugs you? I'm just curious.

      • I cannot quite put my finger on why, but it has something to do with the fact that pet parent is directed to me, and son/daughter would be directed to someone else. It just rubs me the wrong way. Also pets are not small people!

        • Makes sense. I admit to sometimes referring to my dog as my son, although I don't make a big show out of doing so. I understand where you are coming from though - animals are not small people and I do think it's important to respect them for who/what they are.

  • I don't see anything wrong with it. As long as the dog is cared for, whatever they decide to call himself is not an issue. Some people hate being called ''owners'' some prefer to be called ''parent'', the dog doesn't mind either way.

  • Cindy Rathvon

    Well said Michelle! I can't understand why it would bother anyone. I mean I am a mom to my dogs, I feed them, bathe them, nuture them, take care of their needs, love them unconditionally, clean up their puke and poop without complaining (much), I do everything for my girls that a 'mom' would do. Why would anyone care what I choose to call myself......??

  • Aleshia

    I love being called a mom to all my pets furry, feathery and scaley alike. I'm a single girl living on her own that has no human children of my own so my pets are literally my babies 🙂