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New Pet “Fluffy” | Reasons Your Child May Be Rejecting You | The Rejected Parent Newsletter

This newsletter is for parents who are being rejected by their children and those who support them. I will be sending regular newsletters to give suggestions and support to parents dealing with rejection from their children on all levels. I generally support parents whose children are 18 years and under; however, some of this will apply to parents with adult children as well.

This newsletter is part of the Reasons Your Child May Be Rejecting You series. You discover a new dog, cat, or bunny has recently appeared in your co-parents' home. Getting a new pet can be a special time for a child. However, now, your child doesn’t want to leave their new friend. It feels like you are in competition with this little furry creature for your child’s attention. This isn’t fair!

It’s hard enough that you were the one who moved out of the family home, and you have practically nothing that the child is comfortable with at your home. Then, adding a new playmate in the other home makes it even harder to get your child to want to come over. Your relationship with your child is constantly having roadblocks put between you two. 

When you find out, you ask your co-parent to allow the new pet to visit your home so you can share in the excitement. However, this baby animal probably won’t do well moving around between homes. So that’s not going to work. 

Having a pet in your co-parents' home creates more conflict with your co-parent, who may or may not have purposely gotten a pet to pull the child away. However, on the surface, it makes sense that you would think this was a ploy to keep your child from you.

Why did your co-parent get a pet during this adjustment period? Sometimes, parents get a new pet out of guilt or to help distract a child by giving them something positive to focus on. They want their child to have a companion to help them feel better about the family's upset. It could also help your child feel a sense of purpose in caring for another living being. I’ve seen well-meaning parents do this. 

In the beginning, it may draw your child away. If you hang in there and remain positive and encouraging with your child, they may be more open to coming over and leaving their pet for a bit. 

Seeing this as a temporary situation could help to decrease your anxiety or sadness surrounding this new pet. The last thing a parent should do is start a power struggle for attention with their child and a baby animal.

Sometimes, younger children and even teens grow tired of their pets after a little bit due to their attention spans. They love their pets but become less clingy to them and relax a little. It may take some reassurance from your co-parent that they will ensure the pet is well taken care of. Anything to remain positive and encouraging of this new relationship between your child and their pet will help. If your co-parent is agreeable, eventually, you can bring the new pet to your house to enjoy it with your child. 

Remember, this is not a permanent roadblock. Have faith that it will get better with time. Continue to reach out to your child and show interest in their new friend. 

-Cathy Himlin


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