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Parenting a Companion Animal as a Precursor to Parenting a Human Child

By Kasey A Travitz, Sandra Lookabaugh

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Participants were ten emerging adult (18-29), heterosexual couples who have had a companion animal for at least six months and have no human children. The present study evaluated parenting responsibilities associated with the companion animal including caregiving, expenses, and negotiation. Data were collected by a demographic survey and semi-structured interviews. Using a grounded theory framework, a self-created interview was conducted in-person with each couple. Overall, the results suggest that the parenting responsibilities associated with raising a companion animal are parallel to the responsibilities of raising a human child. The findings also suggested that the family developmental theory could be modified and adapted to relate to the addition of a companion animal into the family unit, and the developmental changes that occur. Understanding the roles, responsibilities, division of labor, and relationship dynamics when co-parenting a companion animal and how they link to the responsibilities associated with parenting a human child, could open a door to understanding how this trend could be an educational stepping stone for the transition to parenthood.


Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Pages 91
Department Human Development and Family Science
Degree Master of Science
Language English
University East Carolina University
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  • Kasey A Travitz; Sandra Lookabaugh (2018), "Parenting a Companion Animal as a Precursor to Parenting a Human Child,"

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  1. Animal roles
  2. Attachment
  3. Attitudes about animals
  4. Family
  5. open access
  6. Parenting
  7. peer-reviewed
  8. Pets and companion animals
  9. responsibilities
  10. roles
  1. open access
  2. peer-reviewed