If Putting Your Small Kids On A Leash Makes Life Easier, Do It

by Maria Guido
Originally Published: 

Does the sight of a parent using safety harnesses to wrangle their children in public make your eyes roll back into your head? Maybe you should try walking a mile in their shoes before you jump to judgment.

One of our readers wrote in with a question: “I have a two-year-old and a four-month-old and it is increasingly difficult to do any activity such as shopping, doctor’s appointments, or anything without the two-year-old trying to run off and do his own thing! I’m not a parent who likes to push around a big ol’ stroller that gets in everyone’s way and I have been seriously considering a backpack leash for him but there is such negativity surrounding it.”

I believe the correct term is “safety harness,” and although I’ve never purchased one for my own children, I think you should feel free to do whatever the hell you need to do to make your life easier. If slapping one of those harness backpacks onto your child makes your life less stressful — have at it. Trying to avoid the inconvenience of a stroller when you are dealing with multiple children and errands makes perfect sense.

It would be great if we could make all of our parenting decisions without fear of public scrutiny. Unfortunately, if you’re a parent — you can bet your ass you will be judged for just about every decision you make by someone out there. One mother sick of hearing the “animal” jokes decided to blog about her decision to use the “leashes.” In order to have a sane walk with her then 14-month-old twins through the streets of Chicago, she tethered her children to her via those little harness backpacks. She wrote about her decision in the article, Yes, I Harness My Kids:

I have 14-month-old twins and you can bet your ass I will do whatever I have to in order to keep them safe. If there is more than one adult around (without kids of their own to keep watch over) to help chase kids, that’s one thing, but many times it’s just one adult and two kids and until you’ve been there, I urge you to reconsider your judgment. Even if you HAVE been there and you have somehow split your body in two to run after two toddlers at the same time, you must be a superhero and good for you, but maybe cut me a break here, huh? We live in the city and I’m not going to keep them inside… I’m also not willing to risk them running into the street or heaven forbid the train tracks if I can help keep them safe, WHY WOULDN’T I?

Exactly. You have no idea how hard it is to wrangle multiple children — especially in the city — if you’ve never had to do it. If you’ve managed to do it without the aid of a safety harness, good for you! But try not to judge those parents who may be a little more nervous, have really restless children, or just don’t have time to chase their kids around in circles when they are trying to run errands.

It’s easy for people to forget that parents aren’t just moseying around with their kids all day long — sometimes they actually have to get things done. A lot of the judgment that surrounds things like safety harnesses or even strollers for larger children stems from the assumption that parents have all damn day to walk slowly with their children. Nope. Sometimes groceries have to be bought, a letter has to be mailed, and general life stuff has to happen under a time constraint. Imagine that! Parents have schedules, too.

I won’t judge a parent trying their best to be comfortable taking city excursions with two small children. I’d probably never leave the house.

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