What Do Teenagers Need? Ask the Family Dog

Source:  New York Times / July 04, 2019 / By Lisa Damour


People of all ages become deeply connected to their pets, but in the lives of teenagers, animals often play a special role. Indeed, pets provide comforts that seem to be tailor-made for the stresses of normal adolescent development.

To start, animals don’t judge — and teenagers are generally subjected to a great deal of judgment. Adults tend to harbornegative stereotypes about adolescents, and even those who feel neutral or positive about young people often engage them with the aim of cultivating their growth in one way or another.

“Pets are, by their nature, nonjudgmental,” notes the developmental psychologist Megan Mueller, an assistant professor of human-animal interaction at Tufts University. “A lot of teenagers will report that as a very important aspect of the relationship. If the teenager is upset the dog won’t tell them ‘maybe you shouldn’t have said that to your friend.’”

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