Despite the challenges and sacrifices of being a parent, raising children has plenty of advantages. In addition to the love and important life lessons that come with caring for another human, research suggests you may even live longer when you have children.
Similarly, pets can provide unconditional companionship, opportunities for exercise, and a major buffer against stress. Not to mention all of the cute photo opportunities you’ll capture along the way.
For some families, kids and pets go hand in hand. But what if you had to pick one? What if you could have children at home, but no pet? Or the reverse—as many pets as you want, but no children? How would those choices impact your home and relationships? With those questions in mind, we surveyed over 1,000 people about their preference for children or pets.
Pick and choose
Possibly due to the cost of living, a desire to focus on relationships or careers, or finding fulfillment elsewhere, the average birth rate in the U.S. continues to decline.
When asked to make a hypothetical decision between having kids or owning pets, nearly 1 in 3 respondents chose to have as many pets as they wanted but never have children. In addition to the nearly 3 percent of people who didn’t want children or pets, roughly 62 percent opted for a future with children that could never include a pet.
However, nearly 1 in 4 people with both furry and human children confessed their pets liked them more than their children, while 1 in 10 parents admitted to giving away a pet after having a child.
There’s plenty to think about when you’re buying a home. In addition to the overall cost and monthly mortgage payments, you should consider your professional aspirations, commute time, and the amount of space you might need in the future.
Whether you’re a pet parent or a human parent, your “children” are an important consideration in the homebuying process, as well. Almost 62 percent of people wanting children would choose a home based on their future plans. Those wanting a pet had a similar perspective, with 59 percent choosing a home based on their plans. Meanwhile, millennials (61 percent) were more likely than Gen Xers (57 percent) and baby boomers (about 48 percent) to consider their future family or pets when choosing a home.
While Americans wanting children were primarily concerned with neighborhood safety (nearly 75 percent) and the number of rooms (73 percent), future pet parents deemed pet policies (70 percent) and yard space (68 percent) as the most important considerations.
Additionally, nearly 40 percent of people without pets wouldn’t buy or rent a home that didn’t allow pets. And more than 4 in 5 respondents with pets would sell their homes if the rules allowing pets changed.
Expanding your space
If you’re committed to loving the home you’re in, you might renovate to accommodate your growing family.
When asked about home modifications, 2 in 5 pet parents had created a room or space for their animals. Pet parents also added or removed carpet (31 percent), as well as adding a dog house (21 house) and doggy door (20 percent). In contrast, parents designated a play space for their children (57 percent), created a room for their kids (over 53 percent), and added child locks (46 percent).
Some experts argue against a dedicated playroom, however. Dedicated rooms can mean more places for toys to be stashed and forgotten, isolation, and missed opportunities for more functional spaces (like an art studio or gym).
Having an extended family, of any variety, doesn’t just impact your life at home. From the time you take off to recover from childbirth to the attitude toward children at work, becoming a parent can be a rollercoaster ride professionally speaking.
More than half of parents turned down a job because of their children or quit a job for the same reason. Sixty percent of parents even called out sick to stay home with their children, while 44 percent avoided going out with co-workers, and a third turned down a job offer because they wanted to spend more time with their family.
As for pet parents, nearly 1 in 4 called out sick to stay home with their animals, and more than 1 in 5 avoided going out with co-workers because of their pets. Thirteen percent of people with pets also didn’t accept a job or quit their job because of their pets.
All or nothing
Not every relationship will work out. Sometimes, people just aren’t compatible or discover they want different things in life. For some couples, that includes how their spouse or partner treats their pets.
A majority (78 percent) of people would break up or divorce someone who treated their pets poorly, including 68 percent of married people and 87 percent of people in a relationship. And while relationships are often about compromising, pets aren’t always up for negotiation. More than 1 in 3 people would break up or divorce someone who didn’t like their pet, including 30 percent of married people and 46 percent of those in a relationship.
Leaps and bounds
Even though they can’t tell you they love you back or thank you for everything you do for them, 91 percent of people believed their pet is family, with 29 percent of people saying they’d spend their life savings to save a pet’s life, and 41 percent preferring a pet than a best friend.
So how far will people go for their families—human and animal alike? Forty-four percent of pet parents would start an online fundraiser to save their animals, while 37 percent would dedicate an entire room or section of the house to their pets, and 32 percent would get their pet personalized furniture.
In contrast, 93 percent of parents said they would sacrifice themselves to save their children, and 89 percent would spend their life savings if necessary. More than 4 in 5 parents would dedicate an entire room or section of their house to their children, followed by those willing to buy electronics for their children.
The perfect space
In the real world, you typically don’t have to decide between kids and pets. Still, you may decide that you’re more inclined toward one over the other and make sacrifices for your family—furry or not. While it was more common for parents of children to dedicate money, space, and even their job to their family, some pet parents were willing to go just as far.
At Porch, we want your home to work for your family, no matter what your family looks like. Whether that means moving into a new space or finding ways to modify the home you’re in, Porch is your pro for everyday home projects. With instant booking and our satisfaction promise, we know you’ll love the work we do. Learn more by visiting Porch and book a professional in your area today.
For this project, we surveyed 1,009 respondents through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk survey platform. Survey respondents were aged 18 to 80, with a median age of 39.
Respondents by gender:
- 51% were female
- 49% were male
Respondents by pets or children:
- 43% had pets but no children
- 39% had both children and pets
- 8% had children but no pets
- 9% had no children or pets
Limitations: There are many problems with self-reported surveys. Some of these issues include but are not limited to selective memory, exaggeration, and or lying. To account for this, respondents who did not correctly answer an attention-check question were excluded from the results.
Fair use statement
We won’t make you choose between your pets and children, but we do ask that you properly source this study by linking back to this page so that other readers can explore these insights. Additionally, please only share it for noncommercial purposes.