Kids On A Leash – Good Parenting or Harsh Discipline?

by Samantha on August 28, 2011

Kids on a leash – yes or no?
We’ve all been there, right?
We’re out in public, with our kid (or kids) in tow, and suddenly he bolts for the road unexpectedly.

Or how about those times where we innocently took Little Janie to the department store, looked down for a moment at that incredibly cute sweater, then turned around and our sweet little girl was gone?

Yes, panic ensued. Yes, we did finally become reunited with our offspring, if not through the kindness of strangers, but through the bloodcurdling scream of our child’s name that resonated through the whole department store floor – as well as the floors above and below as well.
That split second and subsequent moments where we’re not able to account for our child are the most terrifying that a parent can experience. Perhaps it’s our primal biological connection to our progeny that makes it the most dreaded and horrifying experience when it actually happens. And when it has happened to you, I can assure you that you never want to go through it again.
The first scenario – the one where a child bolts unexpectedly – happened to me recently. Having twin boys, aged two, makes it a more likely occurrence, unfortunately. 

Are kids on a leash a good idea?
Image courtesy of www.child-awarness.com
I had taken my kids to drop them off at daycare, and one of my boys broke free and ran into the middle of the road, in a split second. The other boy ran (of course) at lightening speed in the other direction. What was I to do?

I guess that primal directive took over and I screamed at the top of my lungs to Boy 1 to come back, while (almost) simultaneously screaming at a kindly woman who just happened to be walking by to “get him NOW,” in reference to Boy 2 who was now almost half a block away. Thankfully, there was no car coming and the very kind woman who I had bellowed at actually heeded my demand and roped in my kid. All’s well that ends well, right?

Well, not really.

Because as we all know, these occurrences, while random in nature, are far from atypical. They happen a lot. Perhaps too much. When you have little kids, toddlers in particular, they are almost regular events. Could this be the reason that many of us parents of the younger set are sprouting gray hairs more quickly than ever? But I digress.

If you are the parent of a small one, your nerves are frayed and there’s no way around it. Each foray into the outside world, if you will, makes you fraught with anxiety until the outing is completed and you’re back in your home with your kids in tow, safe and sound. And every time that your kid bolts, you wonder what you can do to assure that it doesn’t happen again, next time you venture out of the safety of your home.

Which brings me to the topic of today’s post: child restraints, also known as “leashes” or “harnesses.”

Okay, the mental images evoked by those words alone makes us all a little uncomfortable, don’t they? I mean, leashes, harnesses, restraints…last time I checked, those were terms that described objects that, for the most part, kept animals in line, right? Therein lies the problem.
Image courtesy of www.sewing-chick.blogspot.com
While we may be all for keeping kids in line, disciplining them accordingly and perhaps being a bit of a disciplinarian at times, let’s face it – we don’t really want to equate our darling babies with dogs, horses and other common domestic creatures, do we? Our kids are precious, aren’t they? And being so, how could we then possibly reconcile spending thousands upon thousands heeding our sweet little angels’ every whims while at the same time reining them in – literally – while we’re paying for those very purchases?
The dichotomy between these two very disparate scenarios makes most of us very uncomfortable, myself included. And yet, I can completely understand the mindset of parents who do decide that their kids will be harnessed, reined, restrained, or whatever the correct terminology may be for the practice. For while they may be shunned, scorned and judged by other parents, they – unlike you or I – are certain where their children are at all times. Given this fact, which parents are the ones who should really be judged? As many of us have experienced, we’ve turned our heads for a second, and our kids were gone.
Image courtesy of www.lullabyebaby.com
In all practicality, child harnesses are an obvious solution to a common problem. Young children run off with no warning, often becoming lost, or heaven forbid, into the path of oncoming traffic, our worst nightmares, as parents. What solutions do we have to circumvent this, at least until the little ones get past that stage where they want to explore their outside world at a second’s notice, throwing caution to the wind and causing anxiety and stress to their loved ones? That being said, I will say for the record that I don’t have a child harness or leash and am, frankly, uncomfortable enough with the concept that I will not likely be purchasing one (or two) anytime soon. That said, I remain conflicted, as when I see children “leashed” if you will, there is something about it that evokes a visceral reaction within me…and the reaction is not positive. The conflict that I feel, however,  comes from the fact that I completely understand why the parents have chosen this option, and perhaps, on some level, envy them for taking a stand and doing what they feel is the best solution for the very real problem of having kids who take off on a whim.

So forgive me. This is a longer post than usual and I’ve rambled a bit, partially as a way of working out my thoughts on this very controversial issue. Not meaning to, er, “unleash” a barrage of comments either pro or con, but I just had to put this issue out there.

Thoughts?

What do you think about child “leashes,” “harnesses” or similar restraints? Are you for them or against them? Why or why not?

Of course any excuse to add a vaguely relative (or completely unrelated) video to a post and showcase artists that I like (like The Pretenders and Sam Cooke) is appreciated. So here you go:
Sam Cooke – Chain Gang
The Pretenders – Back on the Chain Gang





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