Why I Had Zero Shame Putting My Child on a Leash
A dad-blogger has recently shared a picture of his child on a leash and everyone’s gone nuts over it. Clint Edwards, the dad of three behind No Idea What I’m Doing: A Daddy Blog, recently posted a Facebook photo of his daughter, Aspen, with a backpack leash at the farmer’s market. Edwards says he had no shame doing so, as his kid can be a “wild child.”
There is nothing that divides parents quicker than a kid on a leash. Allow me to help — those of you that don’t understand why anyone would ever place a leash on a child stand to your left please, and those who understand why some children need them stand over here with me.
I am a mother of four children. Three of my children would happily walk next to my pram, holding onto the side at all times. They would never dream of running off and knew that if their hand left the pram that we would immediately stop until their hand was holding it again and we’d all move on together. Didn’t happen very often because they knew.
But then there’s the other one. The child who was impervious to instruction, who outright refused to remain anywhere he was told to, and who would wriggle his sweaty little hand out of ours the moment we relaxed our white-knuckled grip for one damned second. Coincidentally, this is also the child that saw anything slightly taller than his two-foot stature as a challenge to scale. Yes, the boy is a climber too. No fear and no f**ks given.
It wasn’t only convenient to put him on a leash, it was essential to his survival. He wouldn’t think twice about breaking free from my vice-like grip and making a break for it across a busy road. And believe me, no amount of parenting can make up for his shortcomings. Did I mention that we have three other children who aren’t wired like kamikaze chimpanzees? Who behaved beautifully while out of the house and can be trusted to stand nicely at the bus stop or supermarket checkout?
But not the boy. He needed that leash.
And when I say leash, I mean leash. It was one of those rainbow harnesses that strapped to his chest with clips at the back. We didn’t bother disguising it as a cute animal backpack or anything. I don’t recall any disapproving looks either, maybe because I looked like I had enough to deal with and it was obvious that any further stress from nosey bystanders could have tipped me over the edge. I would’ve been fine with that, too. I’m always happy to shout at random strangers who disapprove of my parenting and have judgemental opinions to share with a mum of four doing her best to keep one of her babies from throwing themselves in front of a passing semi-trailer.
One of the best things about this rainbow leash was that we could finally just all walk nicely together without stress. We wouldn’t be fighting with him to hold his hand and he wouldn’t be trying to pull away from us. It gave him the independence to walk on his own but not run away. He was happier and we were happier. All for a $13 rainbow safety harness from Big W.
I’ve always said this: most children don’t need a leash, but those that do need one REALLY need one. Parents don’t harness their children for sport, it’s for safety.
If you have never had to put your child on a leash, then you do not understand why some parents do. It really is as simple as that. If you’ve never been responsible for a fearless three-year-old rushing to explore a dangerous world without you, then you couldn’t be expected to get it. Just please don’t judge those of us that do.
Our son is now 8 years old, just as wild and full of adventure, and no longer in need of a leash. But he wouldn’t have made it to 8 without one, of that I am certain.