There’s a debate raging in the comment thread over on Toddler Times in response to Danielle Elwood’s confession that she loves using a child harness (or leash, if you prefer) for her toddler as a safety measure when she’s out and about with her three kids.
It’s more or less what you’d expect, and goes something like this (commenter names fictional):
“Thank you for writing this post! I also love using harnesses on my kids, and they’re great, but I always worry what everyone’s going to think, but it’s great to see someone writing about it here! People who think leashes are ‘cruel’ or ‘humiliating’ suck!”
“Leashes are lazy parenting! I just hold on to my kids’ hands and tell them to stay put and they do! Because I’m such a good parent! You should be ashamed of yourselves, all of you! You suck!”
“Way to be judgmental, My3Cents! Every parent has to do what works for them and their kids! Are you always this bitchy? You suck!”
And so on and so on and so on.
All of which is to say, it resembles a lot of comment threads under posts and articles on “controversial” parenting topics. (Which I, too, have written about and commented on, for better or for worse.)
But it struck me, as it periodically does when I read a post like this, just how profoundly insecure so many of us (and I include myself) are about our parenting choices. The vast majority of commenters said that they also used leashes, and a number mentioned what a “relief” it was to read the post.
Hell, I was relieved, and we didn’t even use harnesses with our girls. But I sometimes wish we had. It would have made certain stressful situations a LOT less stressful.
Being in public, particularly in crowded places, with twin toddlers can be a harrowing experience. Not only is it aggravating as all get-out, but you’re actually scared that while you’re dealing with one toddler’s crisis the other could, oh, I don’t know, run into the street and get hit by a bus.
Seriously, I think I would have a few less wrinkles if we’d used the things.
So why didn’t I? Was it because I thought they were a bad idea, or was ethically or aesthetically or otherwise opposed? Do I think leashes are “lazy” parenting, or humiliating to the kids who wear them? No.
It was because I worried what other people—like that sucky MyThreeCents, and probably her mom and her grandmother, too—would think.
The same way I worry what they’re thinking when they see me attempting to manage my girls’ whining or requests or fights or tantrums or rowdiness in stores or restaurants.
Honestly, the last time before my girls were born that I gave such a big sh*t about what people thought of me was when I was in Middle School. And I felt like everyone was constantly looking at and judging everything about me—what I said, what I looked like, how I sharpened my pencil, how I blew my nose. Everything.
Middle School was pretty much the nadir of my existence. But it was long, long ago. And now I’m a pretty confident, self-assured person. Sure, I have insecurities. But I don’t really worry that people are judging my appearance or actions or words or whatever. (And if they are, I don’t care a whole lot.)
Except when it comes to my parenting choices.
I truly envy all the moms out there who are confident enough in their parenting choices—e.g. harnesses—that they never give a thought to what people might be thinking.
(Are there any? Or is this a rea-a-a-l-l-l-y big middle school?)
P.S. Who’s cuter: Andrew McCarthy or Rob Lowe?
My book: DOUBLE TIME, my memoir of parenting twins, battling depression and chasing that ever-elusive work/home balance.
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