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New family. New puppy?



I am recently married remarried. My husband and I both have 2 kids from previous marriages. Our schedules are hectic and my husband's son, who's 8, wants a puppy. I am afraid that if I say no, I will be the bad guy. I just don't think we can handle any more stress. What should I do?


While on the one hand, a pet offers the opportunity to develop responsibility; on the other hand, the timing may not be best.

When coming together as a blended family, you are getting used to each other's personalities and habits. Further, you are getting used to new regimes and schedules. This is typically quite a time of confusion for all.

Amidst the change and confusion, one or other family member may feel left out and thus may seek a more immediate solution to feeling loved. The thought of a puppy may offer such a solution, but would likely only add chaos at least in the short term.

Rather than plunging into getting a puppy, I would advise a substantial period of adjustment, at least a year. In the meantime, offer all your children much love and support and attention as they get acclimatized to the new family arrangement.

You will have to chat with your new husband about all of this and offer him this reasonable explanation for putting the puppy on hold. This may be your first test as husband and wife. Assuming the choice is not to get the puppy, it is your husband who should inform his son and it should be presented as a mutual, parental decision. There is no bad guy or gal here, just two parents helping their newly blended family to accommodate.

The added pressure and pleasure of a new puppy can wait.


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Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
(905) 628-4847  


Gary Direnfeld is a social worker in private practice. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider Gary an expert on child development, parent-child relations, marital and family therapy, custody and access recommendations, social work and an expert for the purpose of giving a critique on a Section 112 (social work) report.


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