In addition to today’s trends of the Chinese seeing parenthood as a choice, the recent article on the childfree in China also spoke to how “Dogs are the new bundles of joy for some childless families, giving rise to a new phenomenon known as  ding chong, or ‘double income with pet.’ ”  Are pets bundles of joy for more families without children than not? My take…

The article refers to ding chong “childless families,” so it really is not clear if those are families who do not want kids at all or just don’t want them (or in this case one) yet. I can speak to trends I have seen with the former, the childfree.

Over the last decade and more now, I have talked with thousands of childfree from many different countries. I have not talked to many Chinese childfree, but have with many in North America, South America, Australia, Europe, Israel and Romania.

Many, and I mean many, say they have a pet or pets.  Some childfree surmise that we are more likely to have cats than dogs.  They seem to in Israel, at least according to Anat, the moderator of the only online childfree discussion forum in Israel; there seems to be a real trend for members to have cats, rather than dogs.

However, not so in other countries.  I have to say that overall, between cats and dogs, I have observed that it is about even. Many childfree have dogs. Many have cats. Some have other types of pets from birds to bunnies!

But do they think their pets are their “bundles of joy” — that they are their “children”? To this my observation has been — sometimes.

Lots of childfree will admit that their pets are their kids to them.  Others would say that while pets play a special role in their lives, they do not see them as taking the place of having kids. If they wanted kids, they would have kids.  Being a pet owner is whole other deal.  One woman named Carol in Families of Two described it in a way that sums up this view; they are not our children, they are a “special part of the household.”

Me–my 18 year old cat named nadia purrs at my feet as I write this. I love the soft sculpture , grace and beauty of this cat. I love her companionship, her sense of play (even at her ripe old age), and how she shows affection by putting her paw gently on my leg or shoulder. But is she my “kid”?  To this I agree with Carol — she is a special part of our household and our lives–my kid? Not.

So if ding chong includes childfree families, that makes me one too. But if it means my pet is my “bundle of joy,” I remain a DINK and a GINK, not a ding chong~

Childfree–You? Weigh in your relationship with your pet! Others–what do you observe out there with the childfree and pets?

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