Your kids will learn so much from their pets: they learn to love unconditionally, how to be good listeners and how to delight in everyday pleasures such as a cuddle or a walk (to list a few). But don't use animals to teach children 'the miracle of birth'.
A lot of parents think that allowing their family's cat or dog to become pregnant or father a litter is a good lesson for children, but letting your pet reproduce only teaches children irresponsibility. Approximately 25 million homeless dogs and countless cats face a daily struggle for survival on India's streets. They go hungry, are injured or killed in fights, are hit by vehicles or are abused by cruel people. Considering all this, the birth of another litter of kittens or puppies isn't a miracle, it's a tragedy.
Do the math
Unless you ensure that every puppy or kitten you place is spayed or neutered before going to her/his new home, they can soon go on to produce litter after litter of offspring themselves. Just one female dog and her puppies can result in 67,000 dogs in six years, and one female cat and her kittens can lead to the births of 4,20,000 cats in seven years. Staggering, isn't it?
Responsible kids = responsible adults
Luckily, there are plenty of responsible ways to teach children about 'the birds and the bees' without contributing to India's animal-homelessness crisis. Excellent books and videos on the subjects of reproduction and childbirth are available for children of all ages at libraries and bookstores, for example.
Teach them responsibility instead
Animals mustn't be used to teach children about reproduction, but kids can learn a lot from the way their parents treat animals. Adopting homeless animals, volunteering at an animal shelter and having our pets spayed or neutered-and explaining to our children that we do so to prevent more animals from ending up homeless-teach children the most important lessons of all: responsibility and compassion.
For a list of books and visual aids that can be used to teach children about sex and reproduction, move to our next story.