Negotiated Bonds: The Practice of Childfree Pet Parenting
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The American Pet Products Association reports a decade-long increase of pet spending, estimated to reach over $69 billion in 2017. In some cases, these owners apply traditional parenting practices while nurturing their pets. Relatedly, a growing number of pet owners identify themselves as “pet parents.” This study is the first known work to investigate how identity plays a role in the growing population of pet parents. While previous research into the pet parenting phenomenon has sought to quantify the demographics, spending, and frequency of this population, less work seeks to understand what pet parenting looks like in practice. Sampling a population of childfree pet parents, the current study utilized semi-structured interviews and identified two common themes in their daily practice of the identity: 1) Despite the use of parent–child terms and strategies, childfree pet parents are acutely aware of the differences between raising children and raising pets, and 2) pet parents ascribe agency to their pet, identifying individual pet wants and needs to fulfill. This may further inform future research on human–animal relationships by establishing a human identity that connects directly to pet practices in the United States, asking us to consider the lived experiences of this growing population and their pets including spending, lifestyle, and attachment concerns.
Childfree; Human-animal interaction; Identity; Pet agency; Pet parenting; Practice
Other Animal Sciences
Negotiated Bonds: The Practice of Childfree Pet Parenting.