While I Like to Keep My Husband on a Short Leash…..

While I like to keep my husband on a short leash….I’ve never put one of my children on a leash.   First of all, I’m kidding, I don’t keep my husband on a short leash.  He may disagree with that statement however… so maybe I should change it to “I don’t mean to keep my husband on a short leash”.  At any rate, that isn’t the point here.  The point is that I’ve never put my kids on a leash.  So, I am wondering who has?  Or who thinks it is okay? Or who thinks it is abominable?  Or who sees pros and cons?

Today I saw, what I am guessing to have been, a mother and a grandmother walking (literally) a toddler down the sidewalk…on a leash.  I am not trying to cast judgement.  I do not claim to be a perfect parent.  For example….. there was the time that I let Thatcher lay in bed with my husband and forgot to transfer him to his own bed.  I went into the bedroom later to find my husband sound asleep and 2 year-old Thatcher WIDE EYED with the sheets pulled up to his nose watching, none other than, the Gladiator on the TV.  Excellently appropriate movie for a toddler.  And then there was the time that my husband bought air freshener that looked alarmingly like the can of Pan Nonstick Spray and I used it to make the boys some grilled cheese sandwiches.  I didn’t even realize that I had done so until my husband asked, “Why is the air freshener in the Lazy Susan?” a couple of days later.  And, just today, as I was trying desperately to choose one hanging plant and a few perennials….and all the boys wanted to do was play bumper cars with the garden carts….and Wolf Hill was closing in 5 minutes…I absolutely said some words of encouragement for better behavior that I am now, in hindsight, not proud of.  Nor, for the record, were they effective.

Soooooo, I digress.  I am by no means perfect, but the kid on a leash thing is something that I haven’t quite wrapped my head around.  I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel (or look I guess) more than a bit wrong to me.  I am all about Safety First…I really am.  So, if you have a runner and you really think that your child is going to dart into traffic with no advanced warning….then maybe a leash is the way to go?  Likewise, if you are in an incredibly busy place…like, say, Disney World or the Running of the Bulls in Pamploma (in which case, I suppose, whether or not to use a leash would probably not be the parental decision that would be in question), I guess I can see the merit. We, as parents, have always opted for strollers or simple hand-holding.  That having been said, we did once suffer through a horrifically long 2 or 3 minutes of not being able to find Finn at the New England Aquarium.  While I guess, if I had to pick sides, I would call myself anti-leash, a leash would have prevented that from happening.  So, I ask you honestly, what are your thoughts?


  • My grandchildren, when they were 2 or 3, had little animal backpacks with a tail and when in a crowded area you could just hold on to the tail, not a leash though, just a tail.. they loved wearing their back packs and I did feel secure especially when I took them to the New England Aquarium and Quincy Market. But just to walk around, hand holding is the best…

  • I used a “leash” for my sin and now use one for his son in order to allow them to walk around, feel some freedom while walking and/or waiting. Otherwise they would have been strapped into a stroller or in my arms struggling to be free. As long as they don’t object, I’m good with it.

  • A harness type deal is fine I think. Sure takes a lot of worry out of making sure your child is safe. It sure makes as much sense as walking one’s old and rickety “best friend” around in a stroller. Whatever makes ya happy I say. Nobody’s business anyway what one does with precious things in his life.

  • I used the harness type leashes on my grandkids and great grandkids. They seemed happy enough with it and I didn’t have to worry about a two-year old darting out into traffic or disappearing in a store. Got some dirty looks. Don’t care. Kids were safe.

  • When my daughter was little, we occasionally used something called a “hand-holder.” It was essentially a telephone cord with velcro wristbands at each end, one for the toddler and one for the parent. It allowed her to wander about 15 feet while being tethered to us. We used it only for Disney World and the occasional mall trip. Could be a hassle if stretched too far because it could trip other people. I don’t like seeing kids on the harness type “leashes” but I never had a hyper kid that I was afraid might endanger himself.

  • I. Would. NEVER!!

  • So I had a runner(even at 4 he could out run both my husband and myself) and a Houdini in getting out of any stroller or any other contraption we could think of – I held on for dear life when the sky way at a kids park(everyone could ride – nice and safe!) stopped momentarily and he decided it was time to get off. Problem was we were probably 10 – 15 feet in the air. I also got dirty looks and comments from passing people because I was holding him probably close to a sack of potatoes, screaming at the top of his lungs because he tried to run out in a busy mall parking lot during the holidays. So with much trepidation and a little bit of shame I have to say that we bought a harness for Disney – I didn’t think it would be much of a vacation if all we did was look for him and thought the people at Disney would get tired of trying to find us after he found them. Much to my amazement – he loved it. I have no idea why and still don’t to this day but he wanted to use it even when we were at home. He would put it on himself and say lets go for a walk. Believe it or not, he was a good kid, but when he wanted to go – he went! I learned a long time ago, never to judge anyone else. I have no idea what they have to deal with.

  • This is such a non-issue for me. Who the hell should care what someone else does in the best interest of their child. Everyone knows their own set of circumstances. Bottle or breast feed who is anyone to judge another’s choices for parenting. Yes, I used a “leash”for one of my children, it kept him safe while I attended to others and dirty looks be damned!

  • I think there is nothing wrong with using harness it keeps kids safe from running out in the street and getting him by a car. The parents today are far to passive and don’t believe in playpens and kids never get hurt in them it gives parents at least some time not to worry if they are in the bathroom or falling down stairs. Kids do what they accustomed to and really don’t mind. It should be all about the safety of children and you can hook a harness to the grocery cart so they can’t stand up and fall out.

  • I had a runner-counter climber-store hider-Stacy Boulevard fence jumper. The harness as a toddler is the only reason he’s alive today, I swear! It gave him a six foot long sense of freedom, since he would disable the stroller brake and unlatch himself! I always enjoyed the discussions…much easier than a kid taking a header into the big pond!

  • Nichole I have been reading your posts and loved all of them! I relate to a lot of the topics you have shared.
    I myself felt the same way you did the first time I saw a toddler on a leash while traveling on a Ferry to Martha’s Vineyard, I said to myself “I will never put a leash on my kid” little did I know that I would have the fastest toddler in CapeAnn, no one could stop him..he almost got hit by a car when he decided he could run across the street to the playground at Stage fort park, I almost had a heart attack , on that very moment I understood that Grandfather that had the little boy on the leash.and so we used it and talked to him about it…a few weeks later he told us he would not run away from us anymore if we gave the “doggy backpack leash” away. It worked out well for us.

    Keep up the good work :)

  • Thanks for all of your feedback, everyone! The consensus seems, as it should be, that safety is numero uno when deciding what is best for your children! I have certainly been surprised by some of things I have allowed my children to do that in my “holier than thou” beginnings I never thought I would ever let happen. Being flexible enough to change your master plan to best suit each child’s individual needs (or preferences) is a part of parenthood for sure!!! Thanks again for sharing your stories!

  • As a Pediatrician, I find that once a toddler starts walking, they start running. I have never met a parent that was faster than the child. It is definitely a safety issue. Unless you have a fenced in yard, you should use a leash and harness. They are cute with different animals to choose from on the backpack. Keeps them from running into the street. If you are in a mall and they run away from you, it can be one of the scariest things that can happen to you. In the old days there might not have been a problem, but these days there are a lot of crazy people out there. I tell my parents to not much care what others think. It is always about the safety of your child. Be safe. Use a leash.

  • Craig Kimberley

    Sometimes I think I need a leash attached to the couch. One that juuust short enough to keep me from the fridge. (you going to the game tonight? Tues?)

  • I used a leash at the beach. I attached it to 8 foot of rope and tied it to my chair. My son was a runner. The rope kept he safely away from the surf and allowed us to spend time at the beach. Without it we would have been running up and down the beach and have only stayed for a very short time. You use a harness in a carriage and grocery cart for safety.

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