Would you ever put your child on a leash? For parents with relatively obedient children who prefer to stick by their parents’ side, likely not. For parents of a strong-willed “wild” child, however, it may be something you want to consider. This dad spoke out on Facebook about why he uses a leash for his young daughter despite the judgemental looks he receives from strangers. (1)
Why This Dad Puts His Daughter On A Leash
As a loving parent, you will likely do absolutely anything to keep your child safe. Despite this, many of us still judge other parents when we see them with a leash on their children. Why? Because there is an inherent “you’re just not a good-enough parent” stigma attached to the child’s leash. This blogger dad wants you to know that that stigma couldn’t be any further from the truth.
“We were at the farmers market. No shame. I put this kid on a leash,” he wrote in the caption of his Facebook post. “She’s a wild child, and this thing has already kept her out of the road and from sticking her hand in an ice cream machine, along with keeping me sane.”
He went on to explain that people without children, or at least parents without kids who disappear in the blink of an eye, don’t understand. These are also the same people who will judge you when you’re frantically searching for and calling out your child’s name, or when your kid gets into something they shouldn’t be because they ran away from you.
“If I didn’t put Aspen on a leash while at amusement parks, the zoo, a crowded mall, or the farmers market, she’d be the lost child announced over the intercom. She’d be the kid popping up in every Facebook feed for wandering into a shopping center parking lot, unattended. She could be the child climbing into the tiger cage. Because I can’t, for the life of me, keep her from moving. Her curiosity is incredible, and for only having a 12 inch stride, she moves faster than any Olympian.”
In Defense Of The Child Leash
For this dad, he says he doesn’t care about other people’s dirty looks or judgemental comments. Why? Because the leash is protecting his daughter and his peace of mind. It allows her to explore the world while remaining in his sight. When she is older, somewhat calmer, and understands the importance of his directions (yes, no, wait, stay close, etc), then he won’t need it anymore. Until then, he prefers to keep her safe.
He isn’t the only parent of a wild child that has done the same, despite the negative stigma that comes with the leash. Laurel Niedospial did the same with her son. She explained that she never thought she’d be “that mom”, however, when she had a child that would bolt in any and all public situations (including places like crowded malls or train platforms), she got the backpack. It drastically improved both her and her son’s daily lives. (2)
“Using a backpack with a leash gave me a sense of security in a sometimes dangerous and scary world,” she wrote. “There’s nothing quite as terrifying as walking with a toddler who likes to suddenly bolt onto a train platform. Those one-second mistakes could be deadly. Unwilling to risk it, and unwilling to stay inside and wait until he was a better listener, the backpack with a leash became a thing, and it was life-changing.”
A Sense Of Ownership
Niedospial explained that the backpack leash gave her son a sense of ownership when they were out and about. He had room to explore and didn’t need to hold his mom’s hand (which he desperately didn’t want to do). All the while, he was safe. He couldn’t just run off when he wanted to. Both mom and son were happier. Bit by bit he began to understand the weight behind his parents’ instructions and no longer needed the leash after his second birthday.
It Benefits Many Children
Deana Morton is also a leash-positive parent, but this wasn’t always the case. Before she had children, she openly admits that she judged parents who leashed their children. Then, she had what she describes as “the Usain Bolt” of bolters for a son. Since he could crawl, he was always going in the opposite direction of his parents. (3)
Once she had their second child, Morton felt house-bound. She couldn’t go to the park dates and museum outings with the other moms in her mommy group, because she knew with a baby strapped to her chest there was no way she’d be able to keep up with her son. Her sister finally bought her a backpack leash, which at first she refused to use.
Finally, however, when he bolted at the airport on their way to a family vacation, her husband put the backpack on him. From that point on, the backpack went with them everywhere. A couple of months later, the doctor diagnosed their son with a sensory processing disorder. This meant things like bright lights or loud environments easily over-stimulated him. For this reason, he would run away in search of places with less light or less noise.
“But, because we were suddenly able to enjoy everyday activities like grocery shopping, going for walks and hanging out at the library, I felt like singing at the top of my lungs. My son never felt self-conscious wearing it, and I tried to mirror his demeanour. I decided that if he didn’t care, why should I?” she wrote.
Let’s Quit The Judgments Already
When you see a parent with their child on a leash, I’d wager that 99% have tried literally everything else to keep their child by their side already. They have decided, as the parent who knows their child, that this is the best way to keep them safe. None of the parents mentioned above had to use a child leash forever. They simply used it as a tool to allow for happy family outings while their child learned the importance of listening to mommy and/or daddy and staying close in public places.
If you are lucky enough to have children who prefer to stay close to you, congratulations. Until you have a child with a strong will and sense of adventure, or a child with a disability or impairment, then you can’t possibly know what that’s like. Let’s quit the judgments and just let parents do what they feel is right for their child.