Made Me Think!

Hi ysbhkfnzzd
Readers! There have been so many thoughtful comments about the post below this one — the one about the mom charged with neglect because her toddler slipped out of the house while she was napping. Here’s the one that gave me a jolt of insight. Two jolts, in fact: 

By SKL: I am just saying, and not to anyone in particular, that the mindset “kid did ______, need to buy a safety product” is becoming the kneejerk reaction, and it concerns me.

When this exact sort of thing happened decades ago, the parents’ first thought was usually, “How do I teach her better?”  It was even common practice for all preschoolers to be taught how to find their way home safely, just in case.

What I’m saying is, before, safety solutions were child development solutions.  And now, safety solutions are child restraint solutions.  Anyone else see why this is troubling?

(I’m not talking about a precociously mobile infant who is really too young to learn to choose well.  And yes, I support a mom’s right to pee in peace, even if that means having baby gates for a while.)

Lenore here again: Yes, yes! I see how we have moved from “teach” to “buy” and/or “restrain” in many parenting situations. In fact, “buy those door handle thingies” was my solution, too. Thanks for this reality check: Why DO we automatically think of new things to BUY or activities to CURTAIL every time we parents worry for our kids? — L


236 Responses to Made Me Think!

  1. Beth June 28, 2011 at 7:09 pm #

    My husband’s family in Greece just has everything out in their house. Babyproofing? Whats that? I ran around like a crazy lady telling my child not to touch this or that and for G-d’s sake, stay off the balcony. They just teach the kids how to act in a setting. One toddler cousin even grab my child and (and told my child off in French) for getting too close to the edge.

  2. SKL June 28, 2011 at 7:32 pm #

    This reminds me of a recent exchange on another website:

    Sanctimommy: I saw a 6yo walking in a parking lot 20yds from his mother! I grabbed his hand, took him to the mother, and told him that he must stay with his mother. The mom didn’t even thank me.

    Me: Maybe the mother decided that the 6yo was able to navigate the parking lot alone. A 6yo can cross streets and walk to school alone, if taught. I would not be grateful if you dragged my 6yo to me and gave him orders that might have contradicted my own rules.

    Sanctimommy: You must be the kind of parent whose kids run around in the streets and in front of cars all the time. You are lazy, etc.

    Me: No, I’m the kind of parent who teaches my children. They learned not to go in the street without permission by age 1.5.

    Parents know it’s hard work to teach children to act safely. And that’s probably why some parents postpone that job by using restraints instead. And I understand that’s a choice for the parents to make, on a case-by-case basis. But I do wish people would stop using the term “lazy” to describe those of us who choose the developmental path toward safety at an earlier age.

  3. Donna June 28, 2011 at 7:36 pm #

    I think there needs to be balance. It is simply not safe for a 3 year old to wander around town while mom naps. Not all 3 year olds learn the 1st time you tell them something. Therefore, if you have a wanderer, you need to either not nap or make the door wander-proof until the child learns.

    I don’t have a problem with using safety devices, along with teaching, after you’ve identified a problem. I have a problem with marketing all these safety devices as things everyone needs.

  4. Taradlion June 28, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

    Love this post and SKL comment, almost as much as Lenore’s chapter on baby proofing (still chuckling over baby knee pads and toilet locks).

    When my daughter was a little over a year old and very wiggly while on the changing table, I started giving her things like quarters, marbles, and other “choke-ables”….she loved holding them and stopped wiggling. I told her not to put them in her mouth, and if she did, I took them away (crying ensued) and I repeated “not for your mouth”. I knew I could never 100% remove the risk that she would come across loose change in a couch cushion or a small toy at a friend’s house . I wanted her to know not to stick it in her mouth.

    I live in NYC and my toddler son HATED the stroller. I would let him walk (run) on the sidewalk and if a toe went into the street, he went in the stroller (crying ensued) and then he would get another chance. I had many little old ladies tell him, “wait for your mommy” to which he responded, “I wait the corner”.

    If you can handle it, then I wont handle it for you.

  5. mobymeg June 28, 2011 at 8:07 pm #

    There is a huge difference between neglecting your child, allowing them to wander around freely without being educated about safety and dangers or because you are just plain lazy and stupid and allowing your child freedom to explore the world a bit with a healthy INTERNAL sense of caution. THink about it — the kid whose mother must hold his hand everywhere will be looking for external cues to identify safety hazards. The kid whose mother allows him some informed freedom will learn to listen to and understand the dangers of the world himself. Which child will be a more successfully independent human being?

  6. N June 28, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

    I think you have to know your kid. My older one tried to slip out once, and I happened to hear her fiddling with the door and got to her. She was able to learn not to do it again, but she is naturally pretty cautious. But oh, then there’s the younger one. She is a daredevil and would try to go out the door a trillion times without ever figuring out that there’s any danger. She needs safety devices. Just like other parents shouldn’t assume I don’t need to sleep, you shouldn’t assume other parents don’t need safety devices. Not all kids learn to be cautious. It depends on their personality.

  7. Robin June 28, 2011 at 8:20 pm #

    “Why DO we automatically think of new things to BUY or activities to CURTAIL every time we parents worry for our kids?”

    Because it’s easier. And as hard as we want to believe parenting is, most will take the easy way out. And then if something does happen, we have someone to blame.

    When I read this comment yesterday I wanted to clap. When we moved into our house we left the stairs wood and installed ceramic tile at the bottom. Family and friends were sure my son (just over 1 at the time) would slip down the stairs and kill himself. I spent the time to teach him how to handle steps. It’s not lazy parenting, it’s actually more work to teach than to restrain. Neither child ended up in a pool of blood at the foot of the stairs.

  8. bernadettenoll June 28, 2011 at 8:20 pm #

    I totally agree with this and I also think this is what the Austin mom is trying to do with her class about Urban Exploration: teach them how to be in the world. Rather than keeping them from exploring on their own.

  9. Tuppence June 28, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

    Yes, I thought that was a good “take” on the whole thing as well. And one, by the way (not btw, for Larry), that is OFTEN cited here in Germany. For instance, a lot of folks here think a safety net on a trampoline is a bad idea — children should learn how to jump without the net, which really can’t prevent accidents from occurring. I was THRILLED to learn that this concept – that safety should not displace a child’s opportunity to learn – is embraced at my own child’s school.

    I volunteered a bit of time for the committee which was formed to rebuild the playground at my daughter’s school. As it’s a city school, really more of a courtyard than school yard, not much space. Therefore careful consideration was needed to decide what could make the most impact. I volunteered in the beginning stages only, and didn’t know the particulars of why they came to choose what they did. It’s a rather “earthy” structure – several big long polished tree trunks, connected in different areas by either ropes or wooden-plank or “floppy” (recycled tire? – at any rate, slippery when wet) bridges.

    I was invited, along with the others who’d given time to this project, to the official opening. The school principal gave a little speech and talked about why they’d chosen the firm that built it. He said they were disappointed that so many of the other firms were trying to “sell” safety. What’s the point of play equipment that is only safe, the school principal asked (YES he really did! Pinch me, right?). Children learn nothing from that, he said. They chose the firm they did, because there was an element of danger in the play structures they were selling: On this play structure, the children will have to learn their limitations, learn to wait their turn, learn not to push or shove, learn to keep their balance, and yes, learn that not to do so could be dangerous.

    And, as if on cue, to show it ain’t all just talk — in the first week it was up, a child broke her arm falling down off the new equipment!

    No law suits. In the, I would have to say, little amount of, “buzz” that followed the incident, what you heard was – could have happened anywhere, and “Well, children need to learn their limitations”.
    Gotta love it!

  10. Myriam June 28, 2011 at 8:34 pm #

    I liked SKL’s comment too and the other thing about it is that while teaching can’t always replace other safety measures/restraints, the safety measures/restraints shouldn’t cause parents to put off teaching either (because they feel it’s not needed with the restraint in place) because the best time to teach children lessons that stick is when they are tiny.

    I relate this to traffic safety. I notice that the main lesson children are getting is “hold Mummy’s hand at all times”, yes that’s a good idea for very small children, but equally important for them to learn at this time is the old “look left, look right and look left again” that we all used to have drilled into us. I think a lot of us have fallen into the trap of thinking, well my child will be with me when he crosses the road until he’s about 10 (I’m talking about the norm where I live), so information about crossing the road simply doesn’t apply. Then there is a big spike in 10 year olds getting run over. If children are drilled in this stuff young, then they will be safer later on.

  11. Frau_Mahlzahn June 28, 2011 at 8:36 pm #

    Actually, I remember that with my first child I considered repositioning the door handles (ours are different from you, they are long handles that you push down to open a door — I thought about putting them in an upward position, so a small child would not be able to reach them as easily). — but my husband just gave me “the look”, ;-). Thank God for all the sane people in my live, because I was quite nervous about all these things when I first became a mom.

    So long,

  12. Christine June 28, 2011 at 8:45 pm #

    This post made me go immediately to internet safety. I have a 13 y.o. who spends time on the computer, mostly playing games and reading related web sites. Over the years as this interest has developed, I’ve decided that our involvement, discussion, and guidance in how he interacts on-line would serve him better than installing “net nanny” or other safety software, which many friends and experts have recommended. Granted, he is a somewhat private, cautious kid, who has pretty good judgment most of the time. It’s also helpful that his friends aren’t avid social media users, etc. And it’s not like I’m saying he’ll never get into trouble on line… it’s an ongoing process and education. But I have to think that if we installed lots of blocks on him now he would have no sense how to make smart decisions about the internet when he’s older. So I have to wonder if others’ feelings about learning physical safety translate into similar feelings about virtual safety. I feel that most of the “good” parents I know are overly afraid of what happens on-line (and I love them anyway while respectfully disagreeing with the fear).

  13. Matt L. June 28, 2011 at 9:02 pm #

    Fantastic sentiments, even today when there is a barrier between me and something else it makes me keenly more interested in what it is. I could not really control an impulse to rail against safety barriers when I was young. Having things open for exploration helped keep me balanced into adulthood.

  14. Taradlion June 28, 2011 at 9:04 pm #

    A little off topic here, but also related.

    As a former life guard and swim instructor, many of the “floatie” devices are a personal pet peeve. Many hold the child in the wrong plane for swimming (especially the water wings – think about it- as an adult, could you actually swim with the top half of your arm held parallel, and in some cases immobilized, at the surface of the water?).

    Although we didn’t own any, I have let my kids use kick boards and hold noodles when playing in the water. I didn’t let the kids I taught or my own kids attach anything to their bodies for swimming. I have seen floaties give parents a false sense of security (I also get it is hard to watch 2 toddlers, etc). It is more what they do to kids. Kids often either doubt their abilities in the water without them, delaying their actually learning to float/swim, or they overestimate their abilities or forget they are not wearing them (many a scooping rescue for this reason).

    Like bike helmets, I believe in life jackets for boating. If a flotation support is “needed” for swimming, noodles under the armpits and kick boards allow for appropriate position for learning to float and because the kids have to hold them they wont forget they don’t have it “on”. Also because a kid might let go by accident (or on purpose) parents should know to watch, while still being (mostly) hands free if there are multiple kids involved.

  15. Karin June 28, 2011 at 9:20 pm #

    I am going to have to come up on the side of “added precaution” in this case. Kids learn at different paces. Some kids NEVER wander out of the house without their parents, some kids are explorers and just take off. An explorer may not learn the lesson of “don’t wander out of the house without mommy” very easily – just think of how many times you have to say “don’t touch that…nooo, nooooooo, nooooooooooo, mommy said DON’T touch that, dirty!!” to a toddler. All that before walking over and physically removing the item from the kid who is basically ignoring you. Apply that same behavior here – how many times does the kid have to escape the house before they learn how to be safe outdoors?

    At 3 a child needs to be supervised outdoors but it’s a temporary rule, so why spend hours and hours teaching this rule when you can simply add a lock to a door to keep the explorer from wandering off. Think of it as a “rule enforcer” while your back is turned. It’s necessary because at the age of three, kids don’t think of rules and consequences. The think of “oooh shiny, must touch”

  16. anonymous June 28, 2011 at 9:23 pm #

    Taradlion, I used to be a lifeguard, too. A friend asked me about a flotation device for her active (and senseless) toddler, and I told her flat out to get a life jacket. He doesn’t wear it all the time around the water, but it makes it easier for him to explore and learn about water, and they then have it for a boat or canoe ride if they want to take him along.

  17. anonymous June 28, 2011 at 9:27 pm #

    Tuppence, unless you have individual recess rubber rooms, even the “safest” play structures result in injuries because kids run into each other. It is good to have a resiliant “bouncy” underpinning to minimize injuries (because it is cheap and it does work), but you can’t eliminate them.

  18. Jen June 28, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

    @Taradlion I agree 100% and learned this from my own experience. My daughter, now 11, wore those floatie vest things when she was young. In her case, she THOUGHT she knew how to swim (she was 3 at the time). Until one day, at a hotel pool, we were having lunch so she didn’t have it on. She finished eating and just jumped in the pool before anyone could stop her. We were sitting right next to the pool, so it was mere seconds before we were able to get her out, but I learned my lesson that day and we taught her how to swim and did so mostly using noodles!

    I’m not sure if Lenore has ever addressed this, but this whole conversation reminds me of those kid leashes. They have always made my blood boil, parents treating their children like dogs. I have always thought it was simply parental laziness that required them to use them. It was surprisingly easy to teach my children to hold my hand while walking through a parking lot or a crowd. And I only required it in parking lots, not because I couldn’t trust my children, but because I couldn’t trust the drivers to see my children with their small stature.

  19. Kate June 28, 2011 at 9:38 pm #

    Of course we need to teach our kids to be safe but as the mother of a two year old who is a fearless wanderer and a sleepwalker (thanks to his father and my mother) I’ll continue to use gates and locks.

  20. Paul Cyopick June 28, 2011 at 9:54 pm #

    In the words of the great comedianne Paula Poundstone: “I child proofed my house, but they kept coming back anyways.”

  21. SKL June 28, 2011 at 9:55 pm #

    I agree about the swimming “aids.” I have never let my kids go near one, except in swimming lessons when instructed by the teacher. I take my kids for “free swim” about weekly, and they switch between doing what they can alone, and having me overtly help them when they need/want it. They are developing both confidence and skill at their own pace, and I know that they aren’t likely to jump into a situation they can’t get themselves out of.

    I did the same thing with training wheels. Took them off before the kids really figured out how to pedal/brake efficiently. I want them to know whether or not they are balancing themselves on their bikes.

  22. Heather June 28, 2011 at 9:58 pm #

    My 2.5 year old son won’t hold hands with adults when walking around. He also prefers to use his scooter, rather than the buggy, so we use that except when we hope he’ll fall asleep or it’s an all-day trip. We live in central London and don’t drive.

    The childminder we use is only two blocks over and the road we have to cross is very quiet. So we had him walk over there from about 18 months, and we taught him to stop at the road (and at all roads and in car parks). We stay close enough to grab him if we need to, but I’m much more comfortable with him being out of reach than I would be if he were a child who’d been restrained or locked in a buggy all that time.

    We also taught him how to manage getting through big stations (we live near one of the busiest in the UK), and so when he’s on home turf, we can let him run ahead a little there, or climb the stairs by himself. We carry him through unfamiliar stations, but he’s basically very comfortable anywhere he can see a train. All this makes our lives easier, but it took time to teach.

    Of course, we also get a lot of people sereptitiously keeping an eye on him when we are out shopping, because I let him be an aisle over from me so he can play peekaboo, but so far nobody has tried to rescue him. And I rather like the community thing – everyone in our block knows E, because he runs around everywhere and plays outside the flat a lot.


  23. Tuppence June 28, 2011 at 9:58 pm #

    anonymous, I’m not sure why you mention that? But, I guess what you write is the case. The point was that the play structure was chosen because it HAS an element of danger “up front”. And those which were selling themselves as, as safe as possible (which would though anyway, under certain circumstances, be dangerous – what you meant??) were rejected. Wonderful that the principal says so and, insists, if you will, that LEARNING about danger, and how to avoid it, or should I say, manage it, be embraced, rather than attempting to prevent it to the greatest extent possible — thereby denying the children that very valuable lesson.

  24. Library Diva June 28, 2011 at 10:18 pm #

    I think the reason why we look to purchase something is simply because that’s sold as the answer to every problem in today’s society.

  25. AnotherMom June 28, 2011 at 10:25 pm #

    @Taradlion…. couldn’t agree with you more. As a lifeguard with the Boys & Girls Club, I encountered the same problem as you… except being a youth organization, the parents weren’t there to keep an eye on them. Suffice to say, if a kid could not swim, he was not allowed to use them. As a mom, I frequently encounter kids (who don’t know how to swim) running to deeper waters (only 4 feet is necessary for most) to play with their water wings without their parents. As an ex-lifeguard/watersafety instructor, I often ask them where their parents are and direct them to shallow water. Unfortunately, I am often ignored and have to rescue them frequently if they are within my zone. I do have to confess… I use the water wings with my son and any friend he may be with; however, I am with them, in the water, all the while. I find that wings are a good tool for teaching the ever important skill of treading water. It also helps me work/play with one while keeping the other near.

  26. KateNonymous June 28, 2011 at 10:26 pm #

    Jen, if your blood boils over leashes, then I suggest you try something. I commute by bus, and I can say from experience that raising your arm over your head and holding onto something for stretches of time becomes quite uncomfortable. At least try thinking about it from a child’s POV and see if it helps you tone down the self-righteousness.

  27. Barb June 28, 2011 at 10:35 pm #

    I don’t think this is a new concept. My little brother was very inventive at getting outside, my parents solution 45 years ago was to by a hook and eye latch for the doors, as he grew the latch moved up the door! How is that any different from bying the door knob saftey guards today. I see nothing wrong with buying things to keep a kid safe in addition to trying to train them to know better.

  28. Taradlion June 28, 2011 at 10:35 pm #

    Ha! I just about spit coffee on the computer screen when I read about treading water with the wings! it is THE perfect position for that!

    I did want to follow-up to anonymous (the one who made the comment about life jackets). It is true, unlike many of the “foaties” an approved life jacket will keep a child REALLY safe. If a parent told me they were absolutely going to attach something to their kid (and I wasn’t going to change their mind about it), it is the safest. Also think it is great to have a kid learn the sensation of wearing one in the water and even playing in one, I suppose. I still maintain kids really do need to learn to float and practice floating with nothing on them. Shallow water and adult watching when possible.

  29. Taradlion June 28, 2011 at 10:38 pm #

    woops, that shouldn’t read as “an adult should watch them when possible”….I meant, practicing in shallow water with an adult watching is the best way to learn to swim…oy!

  30. Heather June 28, 2011 at 10:45 pm #

    My oldest child left our house one morning while I was out on a walk with his younger sister. He left our house with my husband sleeping. He opened the door to the garage, got into the car and opened the garage door. He was 2 1/2 yrs old. We did not know he had left until I came home to an open garage door and tore through our home screaming for him (waking my husband from a dead sleep). Fortunately a neighbor found him and called the police (he had walked a few streets away, so the neighbor did not know us or him). The officers saw me screaming and running down our street, picked me up and reunited us.

    After that incident we made sure he knew his address and full name forward and backward. We also put a safety lock on our door. We added the lock, because he told the officers his name and what his father did for a living. They didn’t understand his name(not a common first name and an easily confused last name). They also could not believe a police officer(my husband/his father) could sleep through a child leaving the house. The officers drove by our home with an open garage and a cruiser out front. They just couldn’t believe it was the right home.

    Our son didn’t try to leave again. We talked a lot about the safest places for a child, waking a sleeping parent and his identification. He knew after that what to do if he could not find me. The lock was superfluous, but I admit I felt better with that safety net.

  31. Lisa | Being An American Mom June 28, 2011 at 10:49 pm #

    Lenore, your reader SKL is spot on. We do not need to “fix” every problem that arises in our lives our with our children by purchasing something. We are so trained these days to think that purchasing and buying are how we are supposed to live. Shoot, we even think of ourselves as “consumers” instead of citizens or people.

    The woman who took a nap while her 3 year old napped did nothing wrong. I do that myself occasionally. We do have baby gates that he is unable to open, but he also knows not to go out the front door by himself.

    Anyway… great dialog here…

  32. sassystep June 28, 2011 at 10:58 pm #

    Safety is important and we should do what we can to keep our kids safe, however our current society has taken it far too far. Babygates and bicycle helmets are great because they can save lives – but when we teach our kids to expect everything in the world to be 100% safe we create a world full of fearful people who don’t know how to handle a little bit of risk. I have two stepkids who have a very protective mother. Because of this we had a very difficult time teaching a 7 year old boy to ride his bike without training wheels – he was so used to not having to balance that it didn’t come naturally. Now that he has been rideing for a year and hastered we are trying with his younger sister who is going through the exact same thing.

    Two weeks ago my sd and two of her friends were outside playing. This was at our house where she is allowed outside and knows that the rule is that she has to stay on our street. I was peeping out at her every 5 minutes or so while doing dishes and folding laundry. At one point I walked outside and she was gone. I found her and her friends wandering around in the forest with her friends. I reminded her of the rules and made sure that all three girls were back on the street. about 20 minutes later she did the same thing again. Of course DH punished her for breaking the rules (she could only go outside when we were outside for 1 full weekend). I couldn’t believe it when his ex tore into us for the situation – not into her daughter for wandering off.

    When kids are taught to not have any responsibility it’s very difficult to introduce this. Anyone have any advice how to have a free range household (both DH and I were raised this way and agree) when the kids are in a house where video games and tv watching are constant and with a mother who actually told us that her daughter needed to have her hand held at all times while walking (yes, in the house!) when she was almost 3 years old!!!

  33. Josh R June 28, 2011 at 11:00 pm #

    Very good point about the difference between restraining and teaching, reminds me of the adage about teaching a man to fish vs giving him a fish. teaching a child to be safe and sensible will carry through for their whole life, restraining them will only work as long as you’re there to watch them. (and at some point the bird has to leave the nest.)

    One comment about gates and other ways of stopping too young kids from wandering. There are door alarms you can buy and install on the top of the door frame that can be set to sound when the door opens. Installing these and setting them before say, settling down for a nap can add an extra layer for the concerned parent. You teach the child not to leave the house without permission, but younger kids being younger kids, if they do fiddle with the door and open it the alarm will sound and you’ll be awakened so you can go reenforce the lesson about not wandering away. A safety lock is good for the really young, but not getting out while unattended means just that, they didn’t get out that time. Being able to catch them and talk about it means another “teachable moment.”

  34. thinkbannedthoughts June 28, 2011 at 11:03 pm #

    Lenore, this is one of the reasons we love you. Because you do think, and because you are willing to admit your own temporary lapses.
    Thanks for another great learning moment, and the reminder that these are all great teaching moments.

  35. Silver Fang June 28, 2011 at 11:07 pm #

    Because today’s parents are lazier than yesterday’s.

  36. LRH June 28, 2011 at 11:26 pm #

    Way to go, SKL, for having the wonderful queen of free-range herself giving you a “shout out” and creating an all-new entry based on one of your comments. Right on!

    The “holding a child’s hand in the parking lot” thing seems to keep coming up. Guess what I do–that’s right, I do NOT hold my children’s hand in the parking lot, and they’re but 2 & 4. I teach them to “follow me” and “stay close” and “stay back” and “run fast, go, now!”–and guess what, it WORKS.

    Now, granted, most parking lots around here aren’t that crazy, and in ones that ARE crazy, I often-times will hold their hand. I certainly make them stay closer to me than otherwise. And, when crossing the street, I often-times will do the hand-holding thing. But hold their hand every single time they cross every single parking lot, even the ones that are practically deserted? Not a chance.

    That said, regarding child leashes–I like the idea of them in some situations, ones where there are large crowds, your children do need to stay close, and you’d have a hard time seeing where they went–and it gets old quick. I certainly agree that a child is much more important than a dog (which some people, frankly, need to be reminded of–no, your dog isn’t a “member of the family,” that’s sick thinking, I’d hate to think you’d be as upset over your stupid DOG dying as one of your children), but I don’t consider the leash thing to be akin to treating your children like a dog etc.

    Tuppence I am laughing you how you’re going “by the way (not BTW for Larry),” ha ha. It’s okay–and if I’m being petty about the whole acronym thing, forgive me. I suppose SOME of it is okay, I just get tired of seemingly every other word in some postings being that way. I can promise you I’m not a nag about it in “real life”–a good friend texted me “TTYL” and I didn’t get on her about it. She even saw a Facebook posting where I was ranting about “over acronym’ing” & took it in good spirits.


  37. Tuppence June 28, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

    This subject also reminded me of something I read once on a blog or parenting site or somewhere like that. The writer was telling about a reality television house-hunting program she saw, which followed Americans looking for apartments in Paris. She wrote that the show had an episode where a couple were viewing an apartment with big windows and no safety contraptions, and the woman remarked to the real-estate agent that people with small children couldn’t live in the apartment because the children would fall out of the window. To which the Parisian matter-of-fact-ly (but a bit confused) replied: You would teach zem not to do zat. And the American woman just about fainted away.

    PS: The woman writing the article also thought the French guy was nuts.

  38. Tuppence June 28, 2011 at 11:40 pm #

    Cheers Larry, and thanks for all the acronym explanations in the other post — I admittedly often don’t know what the heck a lot of that stuff is supposed to mean (so your point, taken). Now, thanks to you, I’m that much wiser.

  39. Dolly June 28, 2011 at 11:46 pm #

    Jen: I defend users of child leashes in some scenarios. I used them for a very brief period of time with my twins. They still had not learned to stay by me and not dart away into traffic when they first starting walking. I could not hold both of their hands and have a hand free to open a door or hold my bag or get out my keys, etc. So I would normally just use a double stroller or wagon but occasionally for a short time period when strollers or wagons were not possible, I had to use the leashes. I could hold two leashes around my wrist easy and still have a hand free for opening doors.

    Most of the moms I know with multiples used the leashes for a short time and unless you have multiples you really cannot judge.

    I believe in a happy medium with childproofing and safety stuff. We did not buy and install EVERY childproofing thing out there for sure. We did put in the main ones that pediatricians recommend. Stair gates, doorknob covers, no small toys when they are babies, etc. It kept me happy and kept them safe. As other mothers pointed out on the other post, when you have multiples they work together to distract you or get into stuff and you have more than one baby to care for you cannot always be watching both of them at all times.

    My kids learn to stay with me in parking lots. They know now at 4. They did not know at 16 months. I was not risking them getting hit by a car which is a real risk while they learned. I plopped their butts in the stroller or put a leash on them till they learned. It is documented you have to tell a baby “no” almost 100 times before it sinks in. I would rather just save the “nos” for the very important stuff and let them explore their house freely without worrying about harming themselves because it is safe for the rest of the time.

    My kids NEVER went through the “no” phase where they say “no” to everything. Probably because I hardly ever had to tell them “no”. I only did it when it was very important so when I did say “no” they knew I meant business. If I had knickknacks out everywhere and I chased them around all day saying “no” I doubt my “nos” would have been as effective. I just put the knickknacks up and saved the “nos” for running in the parking lot or biting.

  40. Dolly June 28, 2011 at 11:59 pm #

    We don’t have a pool pool but we occasionally swim in real pool at a party or a hotel. I am not trained in how to teach a kid to swim. I did not learn to swim myself till about 8 because I was afraid of the water. I finally taught myself by wearing one of those swim sweaters.

    Anyway, when I take the kids by myself to a pool party and neither of them can swim yet-darn right I am putting water wings on them and a ring around their waist! I thought about buying some puddle jumpers. But just outfitting them with a kickboard or a pool noodle is not going to do it! I have two kids in the pool at the same time. I cannot be right on top of them constantly to prevent them from going under and if they went under that would be the end of their pool experiences for a long while. It took a year to convince one of my 4 year olds to get into the pool because he (like his mother) starting out being terrified of water. He doesn’t like it in his face. So the ring and the water wings keeps his head out of the water and he floats and kicks around happily. If he went under once, it would take another year to get him back in.

    This is the same boy who when we went to the beach would not go out on the beach at age 2 because he took one look at the ocean, screamed bloody murder and ran back up to the beach house. Every attempt after that to get him back out there resulted in a panic attack. We are slowly coaxing him to be okay around water. He would not even go into a baby pool for the longest time. He for the first time likes water but if that water gets in his face that would be the end of that. I am there with them the whole time, but I still need to know they are not going to go under and with the stuff I outfit them with, they don’t. They can learn to swim in time with proper instruction through classes. Right now they can just float. We don’t go in water often.

  41. EricS June 29, 2011 at 12:03 am #

    Because parents, or people in general, have become lazy. The “quick fix, quick gratification” mentality is the norm these days. Parents get so caught up in their day to day things, that they actually forget about what is PRIORITY. It should be their child, but in reality it’s their OWN needs. Child care just gets squeezed in. I think that’s one of the differences between parents these days and back when we were growing up. Most took the time with their children, they disciplined (keyword ‘disciplined’, NOT abuse) them, they listened to them and got involved in their lives (without hovering over them). Seems like parents of this generation, are looking for that ‘template’ in parenting. And fall prey to all the gizmos, techniques, ‘expert’ advice, self-help books, etc…that are now readily out there. They overwhelm themselves, to the point that they can no longer think for themselves. When in reality all they need to do is rely on their own parental instincts. This has been the method for thousands of years. And did not the human race flourish? Not to mention the fear of what may happen to them should something unforeseen happen to their kids.

    Authorities need to give parenting back to parents, and not make them feel like every little bad thing that happens is their fault. Sh#t happens, and no amount of preparation we do will cover ever single contingency. If these authorities really care about the kids, why don’t they concentrate their efforts in feeding and clothing the poor ones, give them affordable and accessible health care, an education. Give the parents the means to raise their children proper, and not punish them when they make a mistake. We all have made mistakes rearing our children, EVERY single one of us. Including these judges, social workers, doctors, etc…

  42. Cheryl Beuning June 29, 2011 at 12:04 am #

    I have the hardest time with my husband. We have custody of his 2 children by a previous marriage.
    When we first got together the twins were 8 years old. We would go for a walk around the safe, quiet, neighborhood he lived in, and he would not let the children away from his side. Like they were dogs at heel. I inquired if he had specific concerns, maybe something had happened. No, no concerns – except for his ex-wifes fears that they lived in a big city and every person was out to kidnap the children.
    So I encouraged (hopefully gently) that he let the kids run. At least ahead to the next corner, we can still see them …. “they can burn some energy”. He agreed but there have been similar hurdles ever since – allowing them to walk around the block alone (not cross any streets, just around the block). Then to (GASP) play IN the street with the other kids playing street hockey/football. We worked up to the kids walking to the middle school, 6 blocks and a major street away. Now, we moved to a new state and neighborhood, the kids have a 4 mile radius that they can roam, which includes major highways and rivers. 🙂
    They are 16 now and learning to drive. I hope he is ready to let that leash get a little longer….

  43. Dolly June 29, 2011 at 12:14 am #

    Eric: My instincts tell me to put up child gates so there you go.

  44. Maureen June 29, 2011 at 12:40 am #

    I have a friend that completely childproofed her house before her kid could barely sit up. The day I was there, she had just put up all the barriers and her husband couldn’t get in the refrigerator. He asked, “Do we really need a lock on the fridge?” She replied with a yes and some stat about how a kid can crawl in an suffocate within two minutes. His response was, “If he’s missing for more than a minute, I’ll be sure to check the fridge.” Also, none of her guests that day could get the toilet seat open. It was ridiculous.

    I think there’s a lot of good discussion here. Mostly what it comes down to, I think, is that you have to know your kids. Different situations call for different actions. Like Donna’s story, you might need that extra lock for a wanderer, and not for your homebody. Do what works without being excessive.

  45. Maureen June 29, 2011 at 12:51 am #

    Tuppance – I saw that episode. That show (and others like it) get ridiculous with child safety. I watched a show where the woman wanted a ranch as apposed to a two story because stairs were a safety hazard – her kids could fall down the steps, don’t you know. It’s enough to make you weep for the future.

  46. Peggy the Primal Parent June 29, 2011 at 1:02 am #

    I never used any kind of protection devises on my cupboards or doors. I napped when I was tired and showered while she roamed the house. I left my daughter to do her thing while I did mine – from about the time she was 1 I’d guess.

    I didn’t keep anything toxic in lower cupboards or dangerous within reach. But there were pens, pots, pans, heavy things, tape, outlets, musical instruments – i.e. there were things that could potentially hurt (probably more like scare) her and there were things of mine she could destroy that would have made me pretty mad.

    But I thought it made sense to trust her from the get-go, to teach her how I wanted her to be in my world.

    Even before she could talk I would explain to her that I was going to take a shower and I wanted her to draw while I was busy, or I would ask her to stay in one certain area. I explained to her regularly never to open the front door without me present. I explained everything to her and she learned.

    In all those years she drew on the walls twice and did nothing else stupid. She knew the boundaries. I gave her a whole lot of freedom and she didn’t need to abuse it. I let her explore everywhere and everything. I never kept her from climbing on things (and falling off). When I did set boundaries, she obeyed.

    I think that a lot of kids are so bad because their parents set too many restrictions. They lock everything up, keep everything off limits. Come on, everyone knows that it is human nature to want what you can’t have!

  47. Stephanie June 29, 2011 at 1:03 am #

    @LRH – Regarding a dog not being a member of the family – Tell that to my mom, who frequently mixed up my name and our family dog’s name!

    Seriously though (and admittedly off-topic), I do consider pets (of all species) to be family members. Not on the same level of importance as a human family member, of course – if I had to choose between paying for actual necessities (like medical care) for a pet versus a human, of course I’d pick the needs of the human. But I take the commitment of having a pet very seriously and would always put a pet’s needs before a family member’s wants. If you’d do otherwise, you have no business owning a pet in the first place. (Not “you” specifically, Larry, but the population in general – don’t want that to sound like a personal attack!) My perspective may be a bit different, since I was a painfully shy child and have always found it easier to connect with animals than with people. Despite the fact that I have forced myself to be more extroverted as an adult and have plenty of friends and an active social life, I still find that I gravitate much more toward animals than people. They’re just so much easier to “read,” whereas with people (strangers/acquaintances moreso than close friends) I can just never work out whether they actually mean what they say, so people stress me out and animals make me feel relaxed, if that makes sense.

    And back on topic: I agree 100% with SKL. I was a sleepwalker, so my parents did have to put in deadbolts well above my reach to prevent me from leaving the house in the middle of the night, since of course you can’t teach a child not to sleepwalk. Safety products can have their place, but it’s SO important not to let them take the place of teaching children how to navigate the world on their own.

  48. Laura June 29, 2011 at 1:23 am #

    We didn’t babyproof much of anything. We put up a safety gate at the apartment door because we live in a second-floor flat and the stairs are a bit rickety. I locked the kitchen cabinet where the cleaning supplies are because it didn’t latch properly anyway. And we padded an entertainment center because it had sharp corners, and frankly, my daughter was klutzier than most. (Still is, even at age 12.) One cut cheek and black eye were enough for us.

    That is, until she started sleepwalking at age 4. I was also a sleepwalker and vividly remembered waking up by myself in the garage more than once. So we put those childproof knob things on the door to the stairs and got the landlord to put a lock on the deck door. She continued to sleepwalk but couldn’t get very far.

    We “cured” the sleepwalking by putting a loft bed in her room when she was 8. We didn’t even think about the sleepwalking until the second night when she tried to get out of it. The rail got in her way, fortunately, and apparently hunting around for the ladder was enough to wake her up! So she no longer sleepwalks — at home, anyway. Friends’ and relatives’ houses are another story altogether! 🙂

  49. crowjoy June 29, 2011 at 2:18 am #

    See, this is what I like and what I think eats at the heart of parenting paranoia: discussion among parents. I think when families were large and tight knit, you had role models around you to learn from . If not your own parents, your aunts or uncles, etc. I was raised by parents with 1 sibling each, neither of whom had children so I learn so much from hearing other parents’ stories!

    Just commiserating is helpful and builds my parenting “pantry.” In the original thread on the wandering 3 year old there were so many suggestions and ideas for how you could manage a nap AND a wanderer, ways to strategize, what worked for some but didn’t for others and why, how other parents did it… maybe that would work for us?

    Corporations benefit from us not talking to each other (or merely sneering at each other’s choices) and are eager to step in with their products to fill the void. We do not have to let the corporations who profit from our fears (product manufacturers, the media) substitute for situational analysis.

    We judge when we don’t know all the facts and we can’t imagine any situation beyond our own. Situational analysis does not have to be a thing of the past! We can ask polite questions, we can be confused and try to understand, we can learn and change our mind about things!

    I love these conversations. For every comment that reveals I’ve been judged for having had my toddlers on leashes ever, no exceptions for MY judgement, there is another that confirms it made sense to someone else in the same situation and they came to the same conclusion. I become a more confident, knowledgeable parent which leads to my kids being confident and knowledgeable themselves. And that’s what we’re all aiming for, right?

  50. Cheryl W June 29, 2011 at 2:37 am #

    I agree, that for developmentally normal kids, most kids can be taught to respect the rules. It does take work, but it can be done. My oldest and youngest were always ready to follow the rules and do what I asked, starting at about age 2. Before they, they were not developmentally ready.

    My middle child is not developmentally normal. He looks normal. He had vision issues, combined with ADHD, that led him to need to move constantly to see normally. (That is, not to see two heads on a person!) He has very little impulse control. (That is the ADHD part.) Yet, my first reaction is not to medicate him, although we did do vision therapy that helped immensely with the movement. But this child loves to touch and hug, and would leave a store with anyone who asked. He has no normal fear that most kids have, and cannot pick up visual facial cues. (He is just learning them now, at age 9.)

    This is the son that I used a leash with. We would try first without, but, when he couldn’t stay with me when we went someplace crowded, out came the leash. He also had speech issues, so I would write with a sharpy on his arm my cell number with a message of “Call Mom”. He could point to it and get a mom or dad to call me if he got separated. When ever we went to to places like the fair, the aquarium or what ever, I would point out staff that all the kids could go to to get help if needed. But he also has problems remembering the rules, so I did not feel that I could totally trust him at ages 3-7 to not leave the store with a helpful stranger, even though that was always our safety rule. (If lost in the store, stay in the store. Never go outside with anyone. I will be inside until we reunite.) I would try to go without the leash as long as possible, but really, it is disruptive to others when I am yelling my kid’s name constantly trying to find him in the maze of exhibits at the aquarium. And just because we used it some places, does not mean that we used it everywhere.

    Please, go easy on the people with the leashes. They may be overreacting, or, they may have a very good reason. Like when my youngest was 1, and I attached the leash to his life jacket at the beach because he was constantly running out into the big waves and getting pulled out into deep water. He still had fun, didn’t have to hold my hand the whole time, and was able to explore better than if I was holding his hand. The leash came off later when he was older and could understand what the rules were. At just 1, his brain was saying “Lets see what we can do!” not “What am I supposed to do here?”

  51. SKL June 29, 2011 at 2:43 am #

    I am reminded of a recent evening at the museum. They have a temporary kids’ exhibit re building, which includes big soft blocks that kids can build with. My eldest was balancing on one, it toppled, and she fell. I was standing right there, but my instinct told me to let her fall and get up on her own, as it would teach her something (plus, as she pushed herself up from the floor, I could tell if she’d seriously hurt the arm she was favoring). While I was talking to her about whether or not she was likely to survive her injuries, her sister did the exact same thing – splat, right on her face. Again, I could have reached out and broken the fall, but I felt it would be better to let her discover the natural results of her own actions. The girls continued to climb and play, but kept much better balance after that.

    There was another mom nearby and she was looking at me like, why did I want my kids to get hurt? Why didn’t I catch them, or at least stop them from climbing any more?

    First, it would have been very unlikely that they got really hurt by falling from that height. Second, by falling, my kids learned something about the properties of that toy, which they could generalize to useful life knowledge. Third, by letting them pick themselves up, I reinforced the understanding that they have all they need to deal with difficulties and bounce back. And fourth, as soon as you give kids attention for screwing up and acting needy, you can plan on seeing a lot more of that behavior – and frankly that’s a waste of my time and theirs.

    Just for the record, I had a baby gate at the foot of my stairs, and a “pen” (Superyard) for the kids to play in when I wasn’t supervising, from roughly age 1-2. But I also had my kids go up and down the stairs on their own every day for bath (with someone below to catch when they were still wobbly), and I gave them free range of the downstairs most of the time. I taught AND protected until I was ready to trust them pretty much all the time. In my case, that was just before my eldest turned 2 (youngest was 21 mos).

    It would have taken a lot to convince me to lock doors, toilets, etc. to the point where it would inconvenience the adults in the house. Perhaps it was luck that my kids learned quickly which cupboards and drawers they were not allowed to open, and that toilet water was absolutely off limits. But frankly, I think adults are entitled to some comforts, whether or not a child is in the home. As my kids’ parent, I felt responsible to make sure my kids weren’t a pain in the ass for the others who lived here.

  52. Cheryl W June 29, 2011 at 2:52 am #

    I never did the toilet lock thing. For one, I was trying to teach the older one to use the potty, and the lock would have gotten in the way of that process. And, by the time the youngest was able to reach the toilet, he was ready to use it too.

  53. Stephanie - Home with the Kids June 29, 2011 at 3:35 am #

    I’m not into the water wing thing either. Love the swim noodles, though. We’re still trying to get my youngest calmer about the water since her fall in. I’m glad she’s more cautious around the pool now, but it’s gone a bit too far on the fear side, and the pool is at the grandparents’ house, so learning to deal with it is pretty much necessary. She still won’t get the water wings, although I have less of a problem with using a life jacket or something made to keep her properly floating.

    I do love that my doors beep when they’re opened. My older kids don’t always close them tight enough, so the beep warns me if a door blows open.

    My main use for baby gates has been to give the older kids places to play with toys that have small pieces without my youngest joining in, as she is very prone to putting things in her mouth. The habit has significantly improved now, however, so the gates are down and they’re all having to deal with each other.

  54. Nanci June 29, 2011 at 3:45 am #

    I didn’t do much baby-proofing. I did used to receive a catalog filled with baby contraptions. It had some of the most ridiculous things you can imagine. The thing is that most kids don’t need those items, for most parents it is crazy, but there are certain kids or families that can benefit greatly from certain products. I was diagnosed with melanoma a few weeks after my daughter was born. I have very bad family history and now personal history of skin cancer. The thing I continued to purchase from this catalog was sun-protective swimwear. The little swimsuits that look like a wetsuit. I figured as babies and toddlers they didn’t care how they looked so they may as well get as much sun protection as they could. For a family with no skin cancer issues it would be silly to buy those swimsuits, but I am glad they were available for me. My kids never tried to get outside, I never even thought of special locks for my doors. They have both always been naturally pretty obedient so I never had issues with locking anything else around the house. Whenever my kids (mostly my son) decided he was old enough to do something he usually was. He knew how to use a microwave and toaster way earlier than his older sister. Now at 7 he does all of his own laundry. Keeping items off limits and locked down is not a good idea. Buying a bunch of stuff so you don’t have to say no and follow through is a bad plan and will lead to lots of trouble when they are old enough to get through your blockades and do not have the inner discipline to stop themselves from doing wrong things.

  55. Ann Wittmeyer June 29, 2011 at 4:15 am #

    While watching our local news a couple of nights ago, my husband came across this story ( Same basic scenario as in the article referenced. My husband is old school (aka – refuses to embrace technology! 🙂 so he has never heard of a “Free Range Kid”, but we both immediately turned to each other with a look of absolute disbelief and he says “that qualifies as child endangerment? It was 2am! Are we not EVER supposed to sleep if we have kids IN CASE they might be able to get out of the house on their own?” I fell in love with him all over again! I don’t know the scenario associated with the woman or her child but the fact that she did wake up and immediately call 9-1-1 should speak volumes! Can we give all parents a break and assume the best, instead of the worst?

  56. EricS June 29, 2011 at 4:42 am #

    @ Dolly: lol. It’s a classic fight or flight instinct. You chose the ‘Flight’. Free-range generally goes with the ‘Fight’. It’s normal for like minded people like you. I’m pretty sure deep down you know your a little paranoid, and your paranoia dictates your thoughts and actions. You’ve been conditioned to feel and think that way. If you remove that, then you’ll have your natural parental instincts. In any animal kingdom, when it comes to offsprings, the natural response is ‘Fight’. 😉

  57. Amber K. Nelson June 29, 2011 at 4:54 am #

    OMG, I saw that house hunters episode too. I thought that woman was crazy. I’m pretty sure most kids have the good sense not to jump out windows. And her youngest was like 4, plenty old enough to know about the dangers of heights IMHO.
    I also saw another where a woman didn’t want to buy a house with hardwood floors because her 1 yr old son was learning to walk and could fall and hurt his head. I came to the conclusion when your son turns 3 and has learned how to walk and is now being potty trained, you will want hard wood. I also remember telling her to buy some freaking area rugs if she is so worried about it.

  58. Amber K. Nelson June 29, 2011 at 4:55 am #

    I talk to the TV as if they could hear me, if you didn’t figure that out…

  59. EricS June 29, 2011 at 5:02 am #

    @ Stephanie: I feel the same way regarding pets. Mine is part of our family. But like you said, our dog still comes second when it comes to the hierarchy of the family in terms of needs. Some people may disagree with this, but I train my dog, much like I teach my kids. Many pet owners, who have unruly pets, usually REMOVE their pet from the situation, and rewarding negative behavior (most times not even realizing they are doing so). So the pet never learns how to cope and to adjust. Just like children, you keep doing things FOR them, they never learn to do it for themselves. Yes some kids can be timid, or scared about doing certain things. But are you really doing them any favors by not encouraging them to get over such timidness and fear? What they face now, is nothing compared to what lies ahead of them when they are older. They need a good base to start with. And just like owners energy (fearful, anxious, insecure) affects their pets, so does it affect their children. Kids pick up these things. You may not show fear around them, but they can certainly feel it from you. I always say, it’s not about what makes parents feel better, it about what makes your child better.

  60. kherbert June 29, 2011 at 5:20 am #

    Cheryl W – I used a backpack leash with my niece. I was watching her for the week. Our 1st day out – I got soap on my hands in a public bathroom. Due to my skin condition this is like pouring acid on my skin. Both hands had a chemical burn. I could not hold her hand in crowded places. It burned like hell to have someone touch it. (Couldn’t bandage it Dr. orders were to keep it unbandaged.If I wear bandaids and such the skin rots instead of healing most of the time)

    With my sister’s OK we went to target and got one of those monkey backpacks that the tail can be used as a leash. Honestly most of the time she just walked next to me. If we were in crowded areas, where she could be “carried away” by the tide off people we used the tail. I only remember one negative comment – which was quickly retracted when the person saw my hands. Mostly parents wanted to know where I got it. She is 6 and George still lives in my back seat. She and her brother like to to play with him.

  61. Charlotte June 29, 2011 at 5:30 am #

    I was a nanny for a little girl with Down Syndrome whose favorite game at 4-6 was “run into the airport crowd and get lost” (I flew the kids between parents). So, I had a leash, and she knew that if she wouldn’t hold my hand, or her brother’s hand, or ride on the baggage cart, that she’d have to wear the leash. I never had to use it, thanks in part to her brother, who was 2 years older, and great with her when she got defiant. We taught her how to behave. It took some time but isn’t that the point of parenting? (I also routinely took her out to lunch on Saturdays, when the ski town restaurants were quiet, to practice manners. If my L. could learn not to shriek and run around a restaurant then I have no sympathy for your non-handicapped out-of-control kids. I glare. I have even been known to speak sharply.)
    We did use the leash on her skiing as she was a speed demon. Big dog collar around her waist with the leash between her legs and she could learn to ski without crashing into trees. That only lasted about a year or two though.

  62. FiSyd June 29, 2011 at 5:36 am #

    These guys provide the most fantastic water survival swimming lessons. Not the splash and giggle type, but the type that teaches children (even babies) to roll onto their back and float and get to the edge of the eater safely (even clothed).

    My kids did an associated program in Australia and I have been amazed.

  63. deanne June 29, 2011 at 6:55 am #

    I really appreciate how the majority of comments on this blog are thoughtful and non-judgemental. Reading it has given me many opportunities to re-think my own opinions and look at things from another’s point of view.
    I’m finding the debates about toddler leashes very interesting. When my second was born barely a year after his sister, I found getting around to be a logistical nightmare sometimes. My toddler was a runner, and teaching her to stay close and be aware of dangers has taken a long, long time. There were many times when I had to struggle out of a store with my newborn strapped in a front sling while trying to manhandle a screaming 16 month old who simply went boneless as soon as I tried to take her hand and lead her somewhere. My choices were to either strap them both into a double stroller, or use the leash to give her a little bit of freedom to explore, but still kept her safe while we practiced listening to mommy and not touching things, etc. I find it interesting that most people think that strapping an energetic toddler into a rolling chair with a 5 point restraint is perfectly alright, but a backpack with a 5 foot range of movement makes someone’s “blood boil”.
    My daughter also spends a lot of time with my mother who has arthritis in her hips. Within a few months of learning to walk, she could outrun Grandma quite easily. Without the leash at the beginning, there would have been no way for them to enjoy exploring the great outdoors together.
    Now that my daughter is 2 1/2, the leash/pack is pretty much packed away for good. It’s taken a lot of work, but she is finally listening and not running into traffic / touching things in stores, etc. Her little brother has so far been much more cautious, so I’m hopeful that we won’t have to pull it out again for him, but you never know.
    I find it a bit ironic that some people complain about being judged, then in the same paragraph go on to judge others. I personally wouldn’t use the leash with a 3 or 4 year old, but how do I know that the child doesn’t have a developmental delay or the parent just had knee surgery or whatever.There’s just so much negativity and criticism of others out there, and it really starts to get me down sometimes. I really hope that this blog continues to be a “sanctimommy free” zone, which is what I have always liked the most about it.

  64. pentamom June 29, 2011 at 7:10 am #

    Kid leashes are good for:

    more kids of hand-holding age (or below) than hands. (Think, juggling baby in a carrier, carrying purse and/or diaper bag — where’s the free hand for the toddler?) Taking a couple of kids that size over a distance where stroller is more trouble than it’s worth (across a busy parking lot into a store where you’re going to use the cart anyway.) Parents with backs and relative heights that don’t work happily with being hunched down holding a very small kid’s hand.

    Probably some other things. It’s like a lot of things we talk about here: if they’re an excuse not to train your kids, or a substitute for trying, they’re bad. If they’re a compensation for a situation that presents certain difficulties, they can be a blessing. And it’s probably not our place to decide upon casual observation which it is in any given case, let alone let our blood boil.

  65. Jen June 29, 2011 at 7:16 am #

    Yes it will make my blood boil to see children being treated like animals. I have had a toddler and a baby and had no need for a leash. I definitely cannot see using a leash to cross a parking lot into a store. My husband is VERY tall and again, no need for a LEASH.

  66. Catspaw June 29, 2011 at 7:31 am #

    Heavily preganant mom and tall for her age 2 year old runner who would not hold hands and would escape the 5 point buggy harness, leash was they only workable solution for 5 or so months in places like the mall.
    Mind you this was the child we moved cleaners, medicines etc out of her reach and sight (she was a curious climber) as cabinet locks were a fun puzzle to figure out, and she had good fine motor skills and puzzle solving abilities.

    The kiddie gate on her room when her little brother started crawling at 6 months was a life saver, she could open it and it kept him away from her small toys and art supplies.

  67. KateNonymous June 29, 2011 at 7:37 am #

    That’s great if you didn’t need them, Jen. Circumstances vary, as do children, though.

    I have seen children who seemed too old for leashes. Once I was at Disneyland, and I saw a woman who had several children on leashes. The oldest looked to be seven or eight, and was straining at the harness a bit. To my eye, that seemed excessive. On the other hand, I didn’t know that child. Maybe he had developmental issues that made the leash a good solution for them.

    Clearly this is something you feel very strongly about based on your experience. Based on my experience, I feel strongly, too. I guess we just have different experiences. It’s like we’re different people, or something.

  68. pentamom June 29, 2011 at 7:40 am #

    Jen, did it ever occur to you that people who do this are not treating their kids like animals, they’re treating them like children who are too young to be trusted to stay safely close and need their protection?

    Most people bathe their dogs and their kids — that’s not treating their kids like animals. It’s doing something that their kids need, and the animals need. Same with leashes, when appropriately used.

    “My husband is VERY tall and again, no need for a LEASH.”

    I’m glad his back is in good condition as well, then. Not everyone’s is.

  69. Jen June 29, 2011 at 7:43 am #

    I find it extremely ironic that this is a FREE RANGE KIDS website, yet you are advocating leasing your children.

  70. Jen June 29, 2011 at 7:51 am #

    Der, *leashing.

    I doubt any of you are renting out your children.

  71. Cheryl W June 29, 2011 at 7:56 am #

    “And it’s probably not our place to decide upon casual observation which it is in any given case, let alone let our blood boil.”

    Exactly. Since I don’t want to pay for the broken things that my kid who is not developmentally normal broke, and I don’t want to run around yelling for him in the quiet museum, and since he HAS to put his hands on everything so that he can process it because his eyes weren’t working properly.

    I know I am not negligent in teaching my kids to stay by my side, to not touch everything, and all of that. My oldest and youngest learned it all just fine. This ONE child is not the same as my other two and no matter how much we tell him, he just doesn’t GET it. (Like at dinner time, every meal, we tell him to use his fork, not his fingers – buts still the fingers and he is 9.) So, we didn’t go into antique shops, the kids stayed in the car when we went to yard sales. I didn’t go to fancy stores without carts unless I had the leash.

    Because although it may make your blood boil to see my kid on a leash, I am sure that your blood would boil even more when you missed that appointment you made months ago because my kid ran off (because I have two hands and three children) and they had to lock down the store to find him. Trust me, I know my child. I worked in preschool for many years. I trained as a teacher. I have gotten a lot of help for my child over the years, but some things we just haven’t found the things that worked. At nine, the leash is only threatened, and never carried any more. At six, I still had to use it once in a while. Yes it is for me, but it was also for you. So he wasn’t hugging your brand new baby when he had a cold, wasn’t hugging your mother and knocking her over. So he wasn’t breaking stuff in your store. So that he wasn’t knocking into you as you are shopping, looking at stuff.

    Let me tell you of an experience. I was in the Walmart in Gilroy, CA. There, you need to show them your receipt before you can go out of the store to prove that you are not shoplifting anything. I HAD to let go of my 4 year old son’s hand to get that F****ing receipt our of my purse, as I didn’t know I needed it on the way out (I only shopped there once a year) and we had gotten a snack at McDonalds. As soon as I let go, my son ran. Like he usually did. And they wouldn’t let me go find my kid. And they wouldn’t let me leave my stuff to find him. And I had two other kids. He ran out of the store, and luckily to the side and not into traffic. But I didn’t know that. I finally swore at the “lady” who was giving me the hard time and left my stuff and my two other kids (age 2 and 6) with her and my cart and went to find my son. It took a bit. I was ready to face security when I got back, but I guess the woman realized that a kid was slightly more important than any potential item I would have shoplifted that she would have found in the 2 second scan of my receipt. That was a day I wished I had the leash and didn’t. I yelled at a woman doing her job, and was scared to death of where my son was. If I had the leash, I still would have resented being treated like a shoplifter, but I would not have the hard feelings I now have for that woman who probably got hassled all the time about the stupid receipts.

    So it is all good and fine to say “Teach your child ______.” But what if the child in question can’t learn? Or needs 100,000 repetitions of the rule to learn it? And what do I do while we are going through those 100,000 repetitions?

    Of course, had you seen my child on the leash, you probably would have understood immediately why he was on the leash. Just like you know why the snarling dog has the muzzle on.

  72. Jen June 29, 2011 at 8:01 am #

    Clearly, there are exceptions in every situation. And no, I do not know the personal situation every time I see a kid on a leash. But I highly doubt the majority of the kids I see at Disneyland on leashes have a developmental disability, just as I doubt the kids I see at Disneyland that are clearly older than say 5 riding in strollers have a problem walking (another thing that drives me nuts).

    I also doubt most of you can say you never judge other parents and their decisions. How about the parents letting their children run around a restaurant or a store screaming and carrying on? I am sure your first thought is,”I bet that child has a disability.” No, you think, “Where the heck are the parents?”

  73. Catspaw June 29, 2011 at 8:03 am #

    Jen With me I only used it in places like the mall or busy shopping areas as she would take off and get lost, and pregnant with excess amniotic fluid I could not chase her, around our local neighborhood where she was known I did not use it. Oh she had/has asynchronous development, in some areas shes way ahead, in others shes way behind, so while she could undo a cabinet lock or figure out that trains push air out of the way the same as a rock displaces water when dropped into a puddle (which she explained to me shortly before her 2nd birthday), she didn’t grasp the concept of not running off and didn’t see why she had to hold hands or stay with mummy.

  74. Cheryl W June 29, 2011 at 8:12 am #

    As will all Free Range activities, the key is KNOW YOUR CHILD. I am not advocating, but knowing my child, it sometimes was necessary. In some cases when the child is walking but too young to understand the rules, then it gives them some freedom that a stroller would not. My youngest at the beach did not wash away, but he was able to explore better on the leash than he could on my hand with the 4 foot waves crashing around him. And so could I.

    For all the times that I put a leash on my older son, I gave him many other opportunities to do without it. We would walk around the neighborhood, certain stores, the park, things like that where I would let him go to his heart’s content. He was better at the beach with the waves than the youngest, so he never had the leash there.

  75. kelcline June 29, 2011 at 8:23 am #

    I actually find a leash being used in place of a stroller to be a very free range concept. It allows the child to have relative freedom to wander within a boundary.

  76. crowjoy June 29, 2011 at 8:34 am #

    Jen, I totally judge parents, just like you do. We just judge them for different things.

    You’re judging based on *your* experience. I judge based on mine. The larger point is: as long as we devolve into bitch fights over who is the best mom because ____ we ignore the bigger societal issue over whether we should be bitching at each other at all.

    You say potayto, I say potahto. As long as our kids aren’t ax murdering each other I think we can call the whole thing off.

  77. Taradlion June 29, 2011 at 8:39 am #

    Everybody has different level of risk tolerance (risk aversion). I love that free range kids makes a point of helping parents not over estimate/exaggerate risks that are small (inflated by media) and helping parents see the benefits gained by not avoiding experiences for kids based on small risk.

    Risk elimination is impossible. Risk reduction can be done externally (seat belts, bike helmets, swim flotation devices, baby gates, door locks, purell and the list goes on) or internally (learning to float and swim, learning traffic laws, learning not to go off with strangers, and the list goes on).

    External risk reduction that impedes children learning actual skills (like swimming) are short term fixes. External risk reduction tools that do not impede learning (such as bike helmets) are good. Of course special circumstances (sleep walking, disability, multiples/closely spaced siblings, even personality for some kids or parents) MAY make external risk reduction tools necessary sometimes.
    Some parents do depend on external risk reduction when the child is or could be capable.
    I work with children with disabilities. Making modifications to help children reach their full potential is part of my job. Lack of ability due to inability and lack of ability because of lack of experience are two very different things.

  78. Donna June 29, 2011 at 8:57 am #

    “I also doubt most of you can say you never judge other parents and their decisions. How about the parents letting their children run around a restaurant or a store screaming and carrying on?”

    The difference is that screaming in a restaurant is impacting other people. The child’s behavior is a nuisance and is making everyone else in the restaurant miserable. The people impacted probably do question the decision to bring that child into that setting, thus, ruining their meal. Disability is irrelevant as having a child with a disability doesn’t mean that the entire world must accept your child’s screaming tantrums in inappropriate places.

    Someone putting her child on a harness doesn’t effect anyone else whatsoever. Why are you taking the time to judge some total stranger about something that you have no knowledge of and which doesn’t impact your life one iota?

    I do admit that I did judge the parents of elementary school children in strollers at Disneyland but only because the things are a damn nuisance in large numbers in an extremely crowded place. We couldn’t walk 2 feet without tripping over one and my daughter got run over (literally) by a disabled lady riding a Rascal who was trying to maneuver through the banks of strollers parked outside every ride. If your child is old enough to ride, he can probably walk. I think I’d prefer the harness things.

  79. LRH June 29, 2011 at 9:29 am #

    Donna That is absolutely right. A screaming child in a nicer restaurant, funeral, graduation etc is a nuisance to others & is a proper thing to criticize because of that. Not trying to puff myself up like I’m special, but I have always felt this even before we had kids & I still do. To wit: we recently went to a funeral & our 2 kids were kept in the nursery the entire time. Thankfully most of the others did the same & the funeral had the appropriate “dignified silence” of such an environment, as well it should have.

    Blackberry 8310etc is a nuisance to others & is a proper thing to criticize because of that. Not trying to puff myself up like I’m special, but I have always felt this even before we had kids & I still do. To wit: we recently went to a funeral & our 2 kids were kept in the nursery the entire time. Thankfully most of the others did the same & the funeral had the appropriate “dignified silence” of such an environment, as well it should have.

    Blackberry 8310

  80. Jenn June 29, 2011 at 9:31 am #

    I have to admit that I `leashed’ my son when he was a 19 months old. I was 8 months pregnant and he ran off on me, mid-tantrum, in a parking lot and narrowly missed being hit by a car (some people treat parking lots like a freeway and think there is no speed limit). After that, I asked my sister to ship me one from the UK as I couldn’t find one here. I used it while pregnant (a toddler is definitely faster than my pregnant waddle) and for a short time after my second was born. I didn’t want to buy a double stroller and wanted him to walk. A leash is a lot cheaper than buying a second unnecessary stroller. When he wasn’t listening to me, the leash went on. He learned pretty fast that the best way to gain freedom was to follow mom’s rules. I also had many experiences where I would be trying to open a door and get through a doorway with the baby stroller, and my son would walk out ahead of me. Then as I tried to get out the door, other people would push ahead of me, separating me from my son. When he wandered off, I had to figure out either chasing after him with or without the baby in the stroller or abandon the baby to catch him. Leashing is sometimes the only option for a child who is too young to know the dangers of cars. Some parents may think it’s cruel but I know my toddler and am glad that I kept him safe.

  81. LRH June 29, 2011 at 9:38 am #

    My apologies, my smart-phone double-posted.


  82. KyohakuKeisanki June 29, 2011 at 9:56 am #

    KateNonymous (“Maybe he had developmental issues that made the leash a good solution for them.”):

    In my opinion any kid age 5 or above NEVER needs a leash, regardless of any conditions. That is, ZERO exceptions. Ages 3 and 4 should not need them, barring a doctor diagnosis of a mental condition (many of which just 50 years ago would have just been considered natural personality differences, but that’s another soapbox). Ages 2 and below: Well, you see them in strollers all the time, so really I don’t have much problem with it if you would otherwise put them in a stroller (it should only be used sparingly [if you’re into that kind of thing] with “normal” 2-year-olds though).

    Tuppence: I assume you live in Germany? If so, can you please answer this? Despite the fact that there have been ZERO non-professional paralyzing injuries from diving boards in public pools in the last 100 years (source: woras.geo’s Diving Safety Pages), the state of Massachusetts bans all diving boards higher than 1 meter from being open publicly. Many other states ban boards/platforms above 3 meters. Even in states that don’t, insurance costs driven by lawsuits (all of which were related to residential pools) make seeing a public 3-meter diving board fairly rare (though not extremely rare… there are 1 or 2 in my city of Tulsa), and seeing one higher than that nearly unheard of. There are only five publicly open 10m platforms in the USA as far as I know. One is in Idaho, one is in Alabama, one is in North Carolina, one is in New Jersey, and one is in Pennsylvania. The last two are upscale neighborhood pools with annual membership required (from what I hear, one of them is particularly infamous for its strictly-enforced rules). One of the remaining three requires a signed medical waiver from every guest before entering the premises. Many other platforms exist, but they are all closed to only diving clubs due to laws (in some states) and fear of liability. My question (and I pretty much know the answer already after searching “sprungturm” on Google): Is it like that in Germany? Or, rather, what exactly IS the attitude in Germany toward an activity that is considered “too dangerous” in America due to “the uncountable paralyzing injuries” (which ARE uncountable, but only because they are ZERO in number from diving boards at public pools)? A more serious question, one that I don’t know the answer to by Googling: What do the people there think of safety concerns related to those “extremely dangerous heights” (as one fellow American put it while watching the Olympics)? Is there ever any safety concern at all about jumping from 10 meters? Or do they accept the fact that the worst that can happen is a (very painful) belly flop?

  83. Violet June 29, 2011 at 10:04 am #

    I used a leash one time with my child. He was 18 months old and we were traveling on a plane. We did not want to take a stroller, and the airport is a great place for child to run off. Point: they are a tool to be used sparingly.

  84. livingproducts June 29, 2011 at 10:35 am #

    “kid did , need to buy a safety product” I think so.

  85. Dolly June 29, 2011 at 11:10 am #

    What pentamom said about leashes exactly. Agree 100%

  86. Laura June 29, 2011 at 11:11 am #

    I love that we have all these safety options when our children’s and our individual needs call for them. I hate that we assume that they should always be what we need. I debated, with our 2.5-year-old, putting window locks on all our windows when we moved. And then I left the first-floor ones alone, as I don’t think he can open them or push the screens out and if he does he can’t fall far enough to be hurt. The second-story ones? Yeah, those all got child-proofed.

    My little guy has yet to learn that he may not open the door and go out alone, so I would be very tempted by a door lock – however, our alarm system provides a chime when one opens, which is all I really need. And I like the idea that if there were a true emergency such that no parent was interfering with him, he could get out – at least if he were downstairs. Stairs are still a problem so there’s a gate at the top. It bothers me that in the event of a fire he is basically trapped if he is up there (especially as the kids’ rooms are upstairs and ours is downstairs). It’s a very unlikely scenario, but then so are many of the scenarios people worry about that lead to locked doors! I will be so glad when he is a bit older and surer on the stairs, and I can teach him to work the gate. He’s nearly there.

  87. Dolly June 29, 2011 at 11:13 am #

    Amber: Ever hear about what happened to Eric Clapton’s son? Some kids unfortunately do run out windows. Inspired the song “Tears from Heaven”.

  88. Uly June 29, 2011 at 11:44 am #

    Jen, I hate to break it to you, but your children ARE animals. They’re certainly not plants! You can tell because, unlike plants, children walk and run places sometimes. You don’t need to leash a tree because it doesn’t go anywhere 😛

    As far as leashes go, in places and circumstances where you need to have your child close so they can’t slip off – huge crowds, subway platforms, let’s say you have three under three, two of whom are runners – I have never seen why people prefer handholding or strollers. Seems to me that the leash gives the kid MORE freedom because they can move around a little. They aren’t strapped in a seat, and their hands aren’t held above their heads either.

    I neither know nor care what situations are appropriate for everybody on this board to leash their kid. I’m sure you can work it out for yourselves. But so long as the parent in question isn’t abusing it, it’s probably all right and won’t do any harm, lasting or otherwise.

    Just like every OTHER life-and-death parenting decision out there. We all know and judge people who are too strict or too lenient (by our standards), who pay too much attention to their kids or not enough (compared to us), who value their pets too much or too little (by whatever standard). But mostly, their kids all grow up fine.

  89. Lori June 29, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

    I think buying a product is fine while we teach. Even my parents had a hook & eye lock at the top of the basement door when I was growing up (still do actually). And these are people that never “put up” breakables for kids.

  90. Catspaw June 29, 2011 at 12:32 pm #

    KyohakuKeisanki do not knock leashes for special needs kids over any age, I have a friend with two (both of whom 50 years ago would have been institutionalized), so have a vague idea of what it can be like (have had to hunt for her non-verbal runner several times), it can be very stressful, and sometimes they are needed for kids safety and parent sanity, remember sometimes that normal looking 5 year old can in fact be mentally 3 or 4 years behind. My hat goes off to anyone here with special needs kids, you do an awesome, very hard, job.

  91. FiSyd June 29, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

    Wow Jen, you certainly seem very aggressive on this point.
    I agree it is better to train children to walk quietly by your side, but it’s hard to train a dead child.
    My children were both bolters who thought that making Mummy chase them was the best game ever. So I had a choice: Strap them into a pram or pop them into one of those little backpacks with a tail I could hold onto. Even when in their “leash” I would expect them to hold my hand and behave, but if and when they made a dash towards a busy road, at least I could stop them before it was too late.
    So I train them (like you train a dog), I wash them (like you wash a dog), I feed them (like you feed a dog). It’s called CARING FOR THEM.
    You have to care for a child just like you care for a dog and sometimes that care takes very similar forms. What’s wrong with that?

  92. Jen June 29, 2011 at 12:43 pm #

    I just don’t get how the leashes are in line with the free-range parenting. If you can’t watch your child or hold their hand in a large crowd, why are you in that situation in the first place? I just don’t see this as any different than allowing your child to play in the front yard. They can certainly run into the street just as easily. Also, I don’t see much chance of a kid getting run over at Disneyland, which was the exact example I used. I don’t think I have ever seen a kid on a leash in a parking lot.

  93. FiSyd June 29, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

    Jen, maybe it would be more helpful if you could just tell me what the better option would have been in my situation or that of the other people who have said they used a leash. It’s all well and good to say that they are wrong, but what would you have done if your child delighted in running off in dangerous locations?
    Not trying to be antagonistic – genuinely interested in the anti-leash answer.

  94. FiSyd June 29, 2011 at 12:55 pm #

    In answer to your question, a leash allows the child to walk rather than sit in a pram.
    For me it allowed me to walk to the shops etc (and back with the shopping) with my kids rather than driving or pushing pram. And no, I couldn’t do that while holding both their hands. So should I have stayed home? Doesn’t sounds very free range!

  95. FrancesfromCanada June 29, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

    I’m guessing most of you live in warmer climates than mine. Every few years we have a tragedy up here when a small child escapes a home and freezes to death — which at -30 or colder doesn’t take long. Fortunately, we rarely hear of charges being laid. Sure, it doesn’t happen often, but the cold is a fact of life…and even if it’s low risk, it’s high consequence. So we keep our outside doors locked and are delighted that those doorknobs are stiff, and we will be putting those doorknob thingies on soon.

    I’m in complete agreement that childproofing is no substitute for parenting, but no toddler or preschooler is entirely trustworthy. Where there is a major safety issue, I say do both. And I’m glad there are products out there so I don’t have to drill holes in my doors.

    We locked our toilet, duct tape first then a commercial product. Not for fear of drowning, but because one small boy liked to throw his toys in — yuck — and flush — expensive. Of course we taught him not to do it, but it took months for the lesson to sink in! As for leashes, some days at the farmers’ market I sure wish I could convince my kid to wear one without wailing like a banshee. My pet peeve is those crazy harnesses so you can suspend your normally developing infant, ostensibly teaching them to walk. What’s the rush?

  96. FiSyd June 29, 2011 at 12:58 pm #

    BTW I agree with you once the kids are over a certain age, but under 2 or 3yo I think leashes are far more free range than prams.

  97. FrancesfromCanada June 29, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

    And yeah, between the 2 year old who can open the windows and the cats who think a screen is a challenge to their slicing skills, the second-floor windows have a governor on them (low tech, it’s a piece of dowel) so they only open a few inches. It doesn’t take many summers working emerg to learn that kids really do fall out of windows. Even the ones whose parents taught them better. I actually think windows that will accept such a governor should be part of building code, at least above the main floor.

    But then I believe in seatbelt and bicycle helmet laws, too.

  98. KateNonymous June 29, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

    “In my opinion any kid age 5 or above NEVER needs a leash, regardless of any conditions. That is, ZERO exceptions.”

    Exactly, it’s your opinion.

    Here’s what I think: Free-range parenting is about knowing your child and his or her abilities, and the environment in which you are raising him or her. There are quite a few variables in that sentence, which means that one size probably doesn’t fit all.

    With that in mind, maybe–just maybe!–there’s more than one successful way to parent. We’re not all going to make the same choices, because we’re not the same people. I’m not comfortable with saying that there is one answer that is always right for everyone. If you are, then that’s your business.

  99. Amanda June 29, 2011 at 1:41 pm #

    My son was oh-so-careful until about two months ago. Looked before he crossed the street. Didn’t run out in front of things. Listened when Mommy said things like “Do NOT play with Mommy’s tools.” And then, all of a sudden, he gleefully began to ignore any and all danger cues in his environment. He zips away from me in the store (I very much doubt he’s going to be snatched, but dang it, it annoys the other customers and it’s not the job of the store staff to chase my kid). He sneaks outside at odd hours. He climbs chairs/ladders, unlocks cupboard doors, and shows up lugging power tools and asking, “Mommy! Can I have this VERY DANGEROUS thing?” with a SMIRK on his face. Throws pointy things. Runs with scissors. Leaps off of things. What drives me bats about it is that he KNOWS all these things are dangerous, and he does them just to get my goat. I reluctantly installed “childproof” doorknobs. Defeated within two days. Started deadbolting the doors. He figured out how to climb up and flip the latch. (And then, when I wandered out to look for him, he sneaked back in and locked ME out… that was fun…) I hate having to helicopter around, because I really do think kids should have as much freedom as possible, but until he stops this daredevil stage, I suppose I have to be ultra-vigilant! And right now, I really do wish I had a toddler leash. Or an invisible fence. Alas.

  100. SKL June 29, 2011 at 2:20 pm #

    I don’t know . . . some of the shenanigans I read about above leave me thinking, maybe the issue is effective discipline. Granted, there will always be “some kids” who defy all proper discipline, but they are few and far between. Personally I’d rather apply decisive discipline than allow the child to ignore safety concerns. Obviously this is a parenting choice, but strong, consistent discipline usually does work within a fairly short time.

  101. LRH June 29, 2011 at 3:38 pm #

    KateNonymous That is exactly right. Parental judgmental-ism is wrong. I call that sort of thing being a “parenting Pharisee.” To paraphrase Voltaire (I THINK that’s the correct person)–I may not like how you parent, but I will defend to the death your right to parent that way. I may be a stick in the mud (hopefully not hostile or ugly about it, though) regarding such things as the over-usage of “Internet slang/acronyms” (that topic has come up big in the prior post, probably TOO big where it concerns how I’ve probably gone overboard in addressing it), but where it regards a person’s RIGHT to parent their own way, I’m totally on-board with that, even if I don’t agree with the specific choices they make on occasion. People who lecture you about your parenting irritate me highly (even more than the Internet slang thing, ha ha–seriously).


  102. Myriam June 29, 2011 at 3:39 pm #

    Using a leash is no different from insisting that a child holds your hand – the effect is absolutely the same. Just as using a stroller (for reasonably long distances) is effectively no different from driving your child around in a car. I don’t understand why people get so het up about either one of them. They seem to have become a marker for bad parents, but it’s completely arbitrary and irrational. It makes my blood boil actually.

  103. Myriam June 29, 2011 at 3:50 pm #

    If a child is on a leash or in a stroller, the child is outside. Let’s start giving parents who take their children out a break rather than subjecting them to all sorts of scrutiny and judgment. There are a whole lot of parents who escape such scrutiny or judgment because they keep their children inside (or in cars).
    According to an article I read in the newspaper recently, 24% of UK children rarely or NEVER play outside. I find that mind-boggling. I am sceptical about surveys like that and I hope it’s not true.

  104. Staceyjw June 29, 2011 at 3:55 pm #

    I don’t know why people think parents are so lazy nowadays. It takes LOTS of effort to helicopter! You can say what you want, but I just don’t see modern parents as lazy, especially ones that work full time too.

    My safety rule is this- if it it most likely going to kill my kid if he gets into it, I keep it away from him until he knows better. Period. This means poisons, medicines, and guns (not that I have one, but if I did) are kept out of his reach. My DH drank rat poison he found under the sink, while being baby sat, as a child and nearly died, so I know it happens. Anything less dangerous is accessible.

    Otherwise, the few safety things we use are there also for MY convenience, and I don’t feel the least bit bad saying this. Why shouldn’t I make parenting easier, so long as Im not damaging my kids? I don’t believe in making things harder than they need to be. I would hate for my son to be killed or permanently disabled because I looked away or went to the bathroom. I’m not a perfect parent, Im absentminded and tired sometimes, so the occasional gate is a good thing to me.

    For example- I keep the baby (and our ferrets!) out of our kitchen because I can’t stand them underfoot while cooking. So there’s a gate. We use to live in a house with some steep, tile stairs. I put a gate there so my infant wouldn’t fall down them. I don’t want to depend on my noticing that he’s teetering on the edge- Im just not that careful. I keep small things out of his reach so he can explore the house without me hovering. Sure, I work on teaching him not to eat that stuff, but he’s only 10 months old, theres only so much he can understand.

    I think parents 200 years ago would have used see things had they been available. I’m sure they used what they had. Pretending that all kids back in the old days learned their lessons naturally, and there weren’t lots of deaths, is revisionism. I’m all for keeping the good things from the “old days”, while using all that the modern world has to offer too.

    And about pets- they ARE family members! Mine are, anyway. I do love my kid more, of course, but my pets are very important to me, and enrich my days with love. Not having animals around would be a sad, sad, fate, indeed!

  105. Sean June 29, 2011 at 5:32 pm #

    I always tell my girls, ‘You are the first person responsible for you.’ 🙂

  106. Cindy Stewart June 29, 2011 at 7:32 pm #


    ” Stairs are still a problem so there’s a gate at the top. It bothers me that in the event of a fire he is basically trapped if he is up there (especially as the kids’ rooms are upstairs and ours is downstairs). It’s a very unlikely scenario, but then so are many of the scenarios people worry about that lead to locked doors! I will be so glad when he is a bit older and surer on the stairs, and I can teach him to work the gate. He’s nearly there.”

    Just a suggestion, and maybe you tried this before but your child insists on walking down, but in our family when the kids started crawling – and crawling upstairs, they were shown how to turn around at the top of the stairs and come down feet first on their tummies. So they were navigating stairs safely before they ever learned to walk. They continued to come down that way well after they started walking, until they were very secure with walking down. (actually, they thought it was great fun later on to slide down on their stomachs, like a slide) It eliminated baby gates for the stairs, kept the kids safe and mobile. I’m sure it wouldn’t work for everybody, but for the 10 kids in our extended family, it did fine. And I see from this site
    that other people still use it.. You may have tried this already, but if not, you might be able to eliminate the baby gate a little sooner.

  107. Tuppence June 29, 2011 at 7:52 pm #

    KyohakuKeisanki, I would say here in Germany the attitude toward safety is very different to that of the US, and I wonder if it is because attorneys here can not advertise, and therefore can not advertise “Have you been injured? At zero cost to yourself, you could win a cash settlement” type of thing. This also used to be the case when I was a girl in the US and we all know what “safety” looked like back in the day. Like fun.

    In contrast, in the UK, they are allowed to advertise, and they have those “Have you been injured?” television commericals, and their idea of safety looks a lot like that of the US: Decades-long tradition of school sport festials no longer taking place, because a child fell down on “uneven” grass of school ground, obtained injury, and the family sued the school. Schools now realizing they can no longer afford sports days. Too risky.

    10 meter high diving boards in Germany: Just walked by outdoor public swimming pool the other day. There looked to be a 3 meter, a 5, 7, and, yes, a 10 meter! They seem to be passé of late though, the new thang is crazy-high slides. The twistier the better.
    I can’t recall any rules about who or who can’t go on how high a diving board. But then I don’t use them. But I do, probably rightly, assume, they leave it to you (and your belly – ouch!) whether or not you can handle it.

    As I stated earlier, there is (at least still!) a strong sentiment here that children shouldn’t be kept “safe” at all costs. And that doing so is detrimental to a child’s learning and development. Of course, they’ll be plenty of folks that won’t agree with that here, too. But my impression is that this is a more prominent philosophy – and generally accepted as a reasonable idea – in Germany than it currently is in the States.

    You seem very keen on Germany. Thinking of emigrating? A tip: Germany is desperate for engineers. Policy in the pipeline to give residency permits to any and all qualified nationals (not just EU citizens). Start hitting the books?

  108. Dolly June 29, 2011 at 8:22 pm #

    What Stacy said. Actually my grandmother would not have lost her baby brother had her mother had some sort of pen or baby gate. He was out playing in the yard and tried to climb a woodpile. It collapsed on top of him killing him. I bet her mother would have loved a pen to put him in outside. Nothing wrong with taking advantage of new inventions that make our lives easier and safer. As long as you don’t over do it, then what is the harm?

  109. Dolly June 29, 2011 at 8:26 pm #

    Amanda: My sister in solidarity! One of mine locked me out of the house a couple times too. I went to get the mail and he thought it would be funny to lock me out. Luckily my husband works at home and let me back in. After I yelled at him about it he has not done it since. But just in case if hubby is not home I am taking the keys with me or making him come with me next time!

  110. Dolly June 29, 2011 at 8:32 pm #

    Jen: Well have you ever been to DisneyWorld? During big crowds? It is really easy for a child to get swept away in a crowd and then lost. We made our 3 year olds stay in the strollers pretty much anytime we were not in line or at a show. I knew they could get lost easily. Too much wonderful things to distract them at every two feet. Plus kids can get run over at Disneyworld by fast walking adults or strollers or parade vehicles.

    I have seen people using leashes in parking lots. I didn’t use the leashes in parking lots but I had to use carts or strollers to get my kids into the store everytime for a long time because I could not trust both of them not to bolt and I only have two hands with which to restrain two kids, carry a diaper bag, open doors, shut doors, hold my keys, hold my bags, etc. I am not an octopus and something has got to give!

  111. SKL June 29, 2011 at 8:56 pm #

    To weigh in on the leash issue – I understand that sometimes people are in a situation where a leash is the best solution. I do not hate leashes any more than I hate strollers for kids who have the ability to walk. I don’t like it when parents use leashes as a substitute for training/discipline, and that does happen, but I usually refrain from judging in favor of the benefit of the doubt.


    What bugs me most about leashes is the mindset behind their marketing: that you must have your hands AND your eyes on your child every second that you’re out. That a leash lets you be a responsible parent by making it easier to NEVER let go. And the fact is, most kids over age 1.5 or 2 can and should be “let go” most of the time, even while out and about. If they disobey or briefly go out of sight, that’s something to deal with developmentally for the typical child. People need to get over the feeling that every place more than 2 feet from Mama or the front door is unacceptably dangerous.

  112. Donna June 29, 2011 at 9:15 pm #

    “I don’t see much chance of a kid getting run over at Disneyland”

    As I said, my child DID get run over in Disneyland. By a scooter that trapped her foot up in the wheel. We actually had to pry her foot out of the thing. Luckily no injuries. But, frankly, the main concern at Disneyland is children getting lost, not run over. This is a serious concern in a place where every square inch is designed to catch the attention of children. Yes, children should be trained to stay next to their parents but the first glimpse of Mickey Mouse 2 feet away might override all that training. They are children, not robots.

    I did not have a leash on my child. As much as I’d rather see neither, I’d MUCH MUCH rather have kids on leashes in Disneyland than strollers (you can’t possibly include enough much’s to cover how much I prefer leashes in this situation). Strollers take up too much space and are a nuisance to everyone else in the place. Leashes allow you to keep your kid close while not bumping into people, blocking traffic, and delaying everything while you get them out and in 5 point harnesses. Little bitty kids are one thing but the stroller parking lot outside Space Mountain was a bit much.

  113. Tuppence June 29, 2011 at 9:16 pm #

    Yes, SKL, you put your finger on it re. leashes! I can see how upsetting it is for people who feel judged about using/having used a leash, and I have no desire to make them feel bad about what they choose to do, I truly don’t. But something was nagging at me – why weren’t they used when we were kids? Why aren’t they used in Germany? And why are they so “indispensable” now for so many in the States? My money on what you said as the answer.

  114. Donna June 29, 2011 at 9:34 pm #

    I do also think that people use leashes and strollers in situations rather than teaching their children to behave. I wouldn’t do it but the leash in Disneyland makes sense to me (I’d prefer to see the wrist things that attach the kid’s wrist to the adult’s wrist but that’s just me). That’s a new and exciting place and even the best behaved small child can’t always be trusted to follow the rules in that situation. The parking lot at your local grocery store is another matter. You should be able to teach even young children to stay with you in a place that they frequent. There are of course exceptions but the average 2-3 year old should be able to consistently walk through a parking lot with mom or dad without running off. My best friend, a good parent but certainly no kid whisperer of extraordinary powers, managed to regularly get toddler twins and an infant into the grocery store without strollers or leashes so I’m sure it can be done with the average singleton or even multiple.

    That said, you have no idea if the kid on a leash is an exception or has a helicopter parent. Why bother to judge and assume one over the other about something that’s none of your business and has no impact on you?

  115. KyohakuKeisanki June 29, 2011 at 9:43 pm #

    Catspaw: Sorry, I forgot about non-verbal kids. When I wrote that, I was thinking of conditions such as ADHD and Aspergers / high-functioning autism, where the IQ (that is, verbal and math skills) is not affected. BUT… if the special-needs kid (age 5 or older) is old and intelligent enough to verbally object, then it’s time to put the leash away. If he cannot verbally object by age 8, I say put it away anyway (trust me… people WILL give you and the kid strange looks by that age). Honestly (within reason… that means just for the little tykes), it’s better than the stroller because the kid gets exercise (and may be more likely not to object to a long walk to school later in life)

    Tuppence: Yeah those slides are gaining popularity around the world… and that’s not a bad thing! Also, not really… but I would like to visit sometime. The reason I have mentioned Germany is that so many other people have mentioned it here… I understand that the case is similar in most non-English-speaking countries… the lawyer payouts, the helicopter attitudes, and the people’s waistlines are all slimmer… all three are related 🙂

  116. Tuppence June 29, 2011 at 9:57 pm #

    I was reluctant to weigh in the leash thing, because people feel judged, and assume judgement on behalf of those commenting “negatively” about them. I can understand this and seriously, I am NOT having nasty thoughts about the parents who use leashes.

    But, what SKL wrote made me think a bit more on the subject. The leashes represent something beyond themselves, I think. They represent a paradigm shift. From (to keep this simple and short, let’s just say) kids will be kids, to one that assumes and thereby DEMANDS that parents (mothers) be aware and conscientious of their child’s whereabouts and behavior at all times.

  117. Jennifer June 29, 2011 at 10:01 pm #

    @Jen I remember flying with two (walking) children under the age of 2. I was managing luggage for all of us and two car seats. One of my children was a runner; no matter how many times we went over it and how many times I imposed consequences, he would let go of my hand and dash off into the crowd to look at something. What option would be better than a leash in this situation? There was no way I could manage a stroller in addition to the things I was already carrying, and in addition, since the kids were about to spend several hours sitting on a plane, I really wanted them to walk while they could. I didn’t have two hands available, even if my son was the sort of child who consistently held onto my hand. It would have been nice to have another adult along to help, but I didn’t have that luxury. What should I have done?

  118. Barb June 29, 2011 at 10:31 pm #

    I had a dasher at baby, my son would just dash off in all directions which was annoying but i would persue, but then my daughter came along and with her in the cart I just couldn’t abandon it and chase the 2 year old, so I bought a leash. He HATED it .. I think he wore it twice, after that all I had to do was remind him that if he ran off I would put the leash on him that I always carried in my purse. So even something like that can be a teaching device.

  119. sassystep June 29, 2011 at 10:48 pm #

    there are a few occasions and situations where leashes make sense to me. Large festivals, amusement parks, airports, etc…. anywhere that you want your child to have some freedom to explore a bit, but where there are so many people that they could easily be lost in the crowd. from what I see – most parents use strollers in these situations (I was at the zoo on the weekend and saw a kid who was at least 8 sitting in a stroller) and in those cases I would much rather see a leash or harness!!

  120. Brian June 29, 2011 at 11:04 pm #

    As American consumers we just accept that in order to consume Disney World we should buy more products like leashes. Luckily there are fun things at home, in local communities and even right here in NYC where you don’t have such crowd concerns. The problem is that such simple pleasures dont have trillion dollar advertising budgets to convince us that we actually want to/have to/SHOULD go to a swamp in Florida.

    On leashes–the previous post on this topic converted me from a leash hater to a leash tolerater. I still dont see myself using one but I realize this is an emotional not a rational decision. I think the arguments about the leash from the child’s perspective are pretty compelling but I think I would feel weird using one.

  121. Dolly June 30, 2011 at 12:21 am #

    Tuppence: My mom used a leash on me at the World’s Fair in Knoxville back in 1981. I was about 1 and that place was like Disneyworld very crowded and crazy. She would bring a fold up stroller for the ride to the bus stop and to the fair and then we would ride the bus to the fair. She would transfer me to the leash for around the fair because I wanted to walk and see stuff but she didn’t want me getting lost either.

  122. Dolly June 30, 2011 at 12:23 am #

    Brian: There are also places locally that a leash would be a good idea. Like Riverbend a giant fair with live music that our area does every Summer. It is very crowded and one year after the fireworks I heard a parent screaming for their child because when everyone made the mass rush to the exits the child got separated from them. I hope they found him. How scary would that be? A leash or stroller would have helped prevent that.

  123. Dolly June 30, 2011 at 12:28 am #

    Donna: At 3 and 4 my twins do fine getting into a store walking with me. Not at 16 months when they first both started walking. That was the leash or stroller time from when they first started walking around 16 months till about 2 and a half. From there they understood and didn’t dash anymore. The point is the place to practice staying with me is in a park or in the yard at home, not in a parking lot because if they dash and get hit by a car, lesson over, they’re dead. So I worked with them in safe places till they knew to hold my hand and stay with me. I am now starting to let them follow close to me occasionally when my hands are full to see how they do with that and they are making progress so eventually I don’t even have to handhold.

    I have friends with multiples plus other kids too. They use strollers, leashes, or take another adult around to help too.

  124. pentamom June 30, 2011 at 12:30 am #

    “I just don’t get how the leashes are in line with the free-range parenting. If you can’t watch your child or hold their hand in a large crowd, why are you in that situation in the first place?”

    You’re kidding me. People should just sit home instead of using a simple device to keep close hold of a child?

    And Brian, I agree to a point, but there are situations where there is a smaller-scale, less expensive community activity where it gets very crowded. Like a lot of things, it’s not that a parent can’t keep a 1 year old close 99% of the time. It’s that in a small number of situations, that 1%, if you DO lose the child, it’s a big hassle. Or it could be worse than a hassle — people in a crowd might well do unintended harm to a child below eye level.

    For the record, I never actually used a leash on any of my kids. I bought one when my oldest was a toddler but it didn’t work well for us — I can’t remember why. And I can easily see why someone would feel that it’s not a useful thing, or better done without. But “blood boiling” because it is in some unique way “treating a child like an animal” is not a rational response. What do you call strapping a child into a rolling chair? Treating her like something between a condemned criminal and a quadriplegic? It’s silly to take superficial similarities between two things and judge people’s morality and attitude toward their kids by it.

  125. Terzah Becker June 30, 2011 at 12:37 am #

    Catching up with blogs so I just so both of these posts….This EXACT thing happened to my mom in 1975 when I was two (minus the neglect charges). I woke up first and opened the door and took a walk on my own while Mom slept on. I walked through some woods near my house and up to a neighboring street…where a neighbor noticed me and asked me my name, which happily I was able to tell her and happily is unusual. The neighbor knew my great-grandmother, after whom I am named, called an aunt, who called my mom…and sent me home to my worried mom. The neighborhood, in other words, handled it. And no one blamed my mom, who is of course an awesome mom and entitled to her sleep.

    My own kids have learned to let me sleep in the afternoon, even when they don’t…They know not to bother me, but they also know they can’t go outside until I’m up. So they play quietly in their rooms. It’s good for all of us.

  126. Jenny Islander June 30, 2011 at 12:48 am #

    Leashes are actually a very old child safety device. In the days when children were laced into tiny corsets as soon as they could walk–to improve their posture–the corset laces were extra long on toddlers. They were called “leading strings,” presumably because it was generally the eager, impulsive toddler who ranged ahead with the family member or servant puffing along behind!

    The problem with the child safety device market nowadays is the sales pitch that keeping your child padded and restrained at all times will make his/her life 100 percent safe, and not doing so will make him/her not safe. But child safety devices are supposed to be practical solutions to actual problems. Leading strings were for keeping toddlers out of the fireplace and away from the rooster back then; they’re for keeping them out of traffic and away from broken glass now. The problem is the same: Toddlers get upset (which makes them disruptive) when they can’t explore the world, but they have zero impulse control and no common sense at all.

    As for older children on leashes, it’s not my business. The one case I know of was a girl who occasonally had to go on the leash until she turned six, because her personal way to push boundaries was to deliberately do the things her mother told her not to do–and her mother, being free range, only told her not do to rude or actually dangerous things. Would I have done it? No. Because my girls would have just taken the leash right off and stuck out their tongues. But it worked for this child.

  127. Cheryl W June 30, 2011 at 1:10 am #

    Oh, and I never bought a special leash made for kids. I used the ones for dogs that I got for a dollar at the dollar store. I just fastened it to the belt loops. Yep, I had my son walking around the aquarium with a leash with dog bones on it. It worked just fine. He appreciated the fact that I didn’t have to hold his hand, and I think that he had some limits because he was not able to limit himself.

    And why did we go places where there were crowds? Because I want my kids to learn stuff. We went to the aquarium. We went to the Maker Fair. In general, our family tastes run to limited crowds, but again, when walking down secluded mountain trails that may have mountain lions, I want my kids near by. And not lost in the woods. If they cannot do it on their own, I can help them.

  128. Jenny Islander June 30, 2011 at 1:35 am #

    I keep forgetting to put in my last paragraph before I post. The problem is turning a situational solution into a universal panacea. In another forum, a mother-to-be asked for advice about diet. A relative had insisted that if she planned to breastfeed, she had to eat nothing but turkey, rice, pears, and squash or the bab would have colic. I happened to know where this list had come from. Nursing mothers have observed that their babies often become more gassy and upset a few hours after they (the mothers) eat certain foods. Dr. Sears recommends temporarily eating a diet that basically consists of turkey, rice, pears, and squash, all foods that in his clients’ experience never make babies gassy, and adding in suspect foods one at a time until the baby has a reaction; then the mother can leave the specific problem foods out of her diet until the baby is older. Note that going on the diet at all is an attempt to solve a specific problem: gassy, uncomfortable, upset baby. The mindset of the relative was, “Go on the diet and stay on it as long as you nurse so that there won’t be any problems.” However, the baby might be gassy and uncomfortable anyway due to issues not arising from diet and in the meantime the mother would be stuck eating nothing but turkey, rice, pears, and squash for months.

    We have a little playground near our neighborhood that used to be made entirely of painted steel. Kids didn’t play there because their exposed skin tended to burn in summer and stick in winter. So the city ripped it all out and replaced it with higher slides, trickier monkey bars, and a climbing wall–all made of high-impact plastic except in areas that the kids wouldn’t ordinarily be touching. They solved the specific problem instead of sucking all the fun out by trying to prevent any kid getting hurt there ever.

  129. Myriam June 30, 2011 at 1:48 am #

    Interesting stuff about the leading strings, Jenny. I looked it up on Google (it’s a quiet day) and it seems that they weren’t just used to help children learning to walk but to rein in rumbunctious children as well.
    I also read about something else that was used at about the same time:
    “Babies also wore something called a “pudding” or a padded roll, this was made to go around the forehead and protected babies from bumps when falling”.
    Yes, there really is nothing new under the sun.

  130. Jenny Islander June 30, 2011 at 2:04 am #

    In the days when people often had stone floors, that made abundant sense.

    I always made sure that my beginning walkers had thick pants on because our floors are tile and little knees don’t need to be covered in bruises. I also made sure that all corners at toddler head height were rounded or padded because kids that age don’t yet grok “point eyes in the same direction as feet while walking.” Kids still got booboos, but the ones that actively discouraged them from walking or might lead to serious eye injuries were less likely. Situational solutions.

  131. Jynet June 30, 2011 at 2:18 am #

    Tuppence said:
    ” But something was nagging at me – why weren’t they used when we were kids? Why aren’t they used in Germany? And why are they so “indispensable” now for so many in the States? ”

    I’m 40 this year (yay :/ ), my mother used a leash on my brother… her mother (my grandma) sent it to her from England. If they had them in England in the 1970’s I would assume that they weren’t unheard of in Europe, but they were used as they were ment to be used, as many people have said: a learning tool for a short period of time until your child has learned not to dart off.

    My brother’s life was saved by his harness. He almost fell down a very tall, very steep hill while we were visiting my aunt. If my mom hadn’t had the leash on him it is her firm belief that he would have gone straight off the edge.

    I used a Fisher Price “hand holder” style lease that was a band around each of our wrists with a coiled cord between us for about 6 months while my daughter learned to stay close. Not all the time, but anytime I had more things to handle than hands! I don’t know if it saved her life, but it sure saved my sanity!

  132. Donna June 30, 2011 at 3:17 am #

    “I have friends with multiples plus other kids too. They use strollers, leashes, or take another adult around to help too.”

    And that’s fine if that’s what they want to do. It’s certainly not required. If they wanted to do it without all those things they could. Many do.

    I guess that is the issue – the idea that certain things are necessary to parenting. They may be convenient or helpful but they are not necessary regardless of the situation (excepting some aides for disabled children or parents). Parents can get their children from car to store without a stroller or leash, even those with several young kids. Parents can keep their children in the house without door things. Parents can keep their children from drowning in the toilet without toilet locks. And so on. These things may make parenting easier but they are never required.

    Marketing or attitudes that insist that these items are required (or were absolutely required in your particular situation) are annoying and defeatist. If your stroller broke at Disneyland and the rental strollers were all gone or your helper got sick, I’d hope that you’d be able to get by rather than simply going home. It’s like when my married friends freak because their spouses have to go out of town and they have to manage the children all by themselves. My response is generally “So? Single parents do that every day; I think you can handle it for a weekend.”

    I do think American society defaults to “needing” these aides, to the point of laziness at times.

  133. pentamom June 30, 2011 at 3:29 am #

    Donna, I agree with all that. It’s true you don’t “need” any of those things, so people shouldn’t exaggerate and say they do (unless you have some kind of genuinely special circumstance), but by the same token, I don’t think it’s right for people who think that coping without them is no big deal to impose their degree of comfort without them on other people. Just like other people shouldn’t think we’re “bad parents” for not installing/using every possible device that comes along.

    IOW, if it’s not actually crippling your kids’ independence, it’s a personal choice whether you want to make life easier by coping *with* the device or whether you want to choose to cope without it.

    “It’s like when my married friends freak because their spouses have to go out of town and they have to manage the children all by themselves. My response is generally “So? Single parents do that every day; I think you can handle it for a weekend.”

    I don’t wholly disagree with this, but I’m going to push back gently. If you’ve adapted your lifestyle to having two parents generally available for at least part of every day, it’s a learning curve and a source of stress to have to deal without that extra person occasionally. It’s like having a bunch of new job responsibilities thrown at you — you shouldn’t freak and act helpless, but I don’t think any of us would find a comment like, “So? A lot of people have harder jobs than THAT” all that helpful or compassionate. If they’re acting like babies over the situation I can understand you having little patience, but a little understanding of what it’s like to cope with the out of the ordinary and stressful might not hurt.

  134. Donna June 30, 2011 at 4:25 am #

    Pentamom, if my coworker gets sick and I’m stuck doing their job for a couple days, I suck it up and get it done rather than complaining about it incessantly. Life happens and sometimes you have to pick up the slack.

    I feel the same about parenting. Your spouse is leaving for a couple days, not a lifetime. I can be compassionate about complaining about having to alter your schedule to do X, Y and Z that you don’t normally do. That always sucks. But the wholesale drama of “my husband is leaving for 2 days and I simply can’t take care of my children on my own” is a bit much.

  135. Dolly June 30, 2011 at 4:49 am #

    Eric: So you do realize how hypocritical you are being right to say “A mother should trust her instincts” and then when this mother says “My instincts say put up a child gate” you then tell me to not listen to that instinct????? That is like the definition of hypocrisy to tell someone to do something and then when they do it, tell them not to do it. My instincts tell me that I can easily see my kids can get rowdy and clumsy. So a gate at the top of the stairs they pass by 100 times a day is a good idea even though they know how to go down stairs safely. My instincts could easily see them tripping and tumbling down or wrestling and rolling down together. Heck my instincts tell me that I am a pretty big spaz myself and I might find that gate useful to keep me from falling down the stairs. I have fallen down them before.

    So are you still going to say “Mothers should trust their instincts”? Or are you going to change it to “Mothers should do what I think they should do”?

  136. pentamom June 30, 2011 at 5:01 am #

    Yes, Donna, I agree. If they act like they can’t cope, that’s not legit.

    And now, I will confess to having done that when my kids were younger as well. But I hope I’d do better now.

  137. baby-paramedic June 30, 2011 at 6:12 am #

    I am pro-leashing.
    Because I remember when my mum was a single parent with multiple toddlers – and one of them was a darter.
    She only had a leash on that one, as the rest learnt not to run out into traffic constantly. (Oh, and me when I was about 4 and had a tantrum because my brother got one and I didnt. Lasted only a couple of times before I decided that was boring).

    My youngest brother on the other hand quickly learnt to respond to my commands. He could run ahead for as long as he wanted, provided when I yelled “STOP” he would. He would wait at corners, but with 4wds going in and out of driveways, I didnt expect an 18mth old t always see them and act appropriately.

    So, I guess what I am saying, is do what works for your child. Only one of us needed a leash, but as he had no concept of danger it really was a safety issue until he learnt to control the impulse to run away.

  138. Uly June 30, 2011 at 6:26 am #

    “If you can’t watch your child or hold their hand in a large crowd, why are you in that situation in the first place?”

    Because you have to go places? Not all of us can live in total isolation.

    And maybe you simply do not WANT to hold your child’s sweaty hand. Maybe you do not WANT your child to be confined to that tiny space. Maybe you do not WANT your child’s arm to get tired and sore while walking, you’d rather that walking is fun and pleasurable for everybody. (Maybe your child WANTS to be treated like a dog, and the leash is a compromise so she’ll stop asking if you can put her plate on the floor. Not that I’d know anything about THAT, of course…. I never thought I’d have to make a rule “no eating off the floor like a dog” in my life!)

    There are some situations for everybody which require closer supervision than your usual. In those situations, some people may find it easier or better to use a leash than the various other options.

  139. LRH June 30, 2011 at 7:03 am #

    Uly I totally agree with your last post. Yes, we are to be “free-range” as much as possible, and not subscribe to what Lenore calls the “safety industrial complex,” which I think was the point of her post here–she caught her OWN self falling for it initially. (Ironic, isn’t it, especially since that seems to be her #1 free-range enemy.)

    However, a leash as a “workaround” for special & crowded situations seems logical enough to me. And yes, as you said maybe you don’t WANT to hold your child’s sweaty hand. Exactly. What’s wrong with that? It’s not like someone’s saying “I don’t want to feed my child a decent meal so I’m feeding them potato chips for their dinner.” They’re still being responsible, just using a tool to help them.

    I could TOTALLY see using one of these in situations like a crowded play area such as Disneyland etc. About a month ago we went to a special “family fun day” nearby which consisted of a HUGE area–so huge it required shuttle buses–with kids’ play attractions like slides, climbing ropes, hobby horses, REAL horses, etc–again, over a HUGE area & with LOTS of other kids around. It was noisy, too, absolutely chaotic. On that day, as free-range as I am–and I am free-range, believe me–I would’ve totally killed practically for one of those leashes.


  140. Hineata June 30, 2011 at 7:46 am #

    @Jen: I’m with Jennifer – had the same situation. When you marry a foreigner you are likely, in these days of relatively cheap airfares, to be spending time in aeroports. My husband travelled on a Malaysian passport while myself and the kids had Kiwi ones, so guess who was always stuck with the three preschoolers and all their associated baggage?! My younger two wore leashes all the time through aeroports and in certain other situations while travelling – Eurasians, like blondes, are very popular, and I needed to be aware of when they were being tugged at (usually completely benign – although it’s a gross generalisation, it’s been my experience that Asians of all ages and both genders love kids!), as well as keeping an eye on the luggage (death to drug smugglers, etc). My older child – 5 at the time- was fantastic with his one and two year old sisters, but was incapable of hanging onto both of them for any length of time (especially as the youngest loved to swing off his arm!) and anyway he was both a/ also popular, so having to fend off attention himself – in the nicest way, of course! – and b/ usually having to walk through passport check by himself (very strict regs at that time).
    As an aside, Eurasians are anecdotally popular among certain criminal elements, because they could be the product of virtually any combo of SE Asian and (in my case white, but read any other ethnicity not Asian) other group …and are therefore, when taken young enough, easy to traffic. This is probably all urban legend, i.e. complete nonsense, but as a foreigner unable to assess many situations (and being a Kiwi, generally pretty naive! Not a lot bad happens here that is not perpetuated by people you know – complete strangers are usually very trustworthy!), I bowed to my husband’s paranoia and kept a much closer eye – and rein!- on my kids there than I ever do here….

  141. Hineata June 30, 2011 at 7:48 am #

    So, bottom line, I loooooved my reins! 5-point harness, definitely the way to go:-)

  142. Jen June 30, 2011 at 7:51 am #

    Have any of you ever seen one of the multiple TV shows on multiples? They travel extensively, I am speaking in particular of the Duggars, and no one ties up the kids. Yes, they have older children too, but at one point they didn’t. My grandmother had 9 kids, so the first few years, she several little ones at once and she managed too. It can be done and likely the kids will be better behaved and more capable and independent.

    Obviously you all are welcome to do as you like, but why so much defensiveness if you are confident in your decision? I haven’t personally attacked anyone. Why do you care what I think?

  143. KateNonymous June 30, 2011 at 8:00 am #

    “I haven’t personally attacked anyone.”

    You don’t need to, when you use phrases like “makes my blood boil.” Please don’t try to deny your own contributions to this topic. That’s disingenuous.

    Here’s the thing: I don’t care what you think. But clearly you care very much what other people do. If we’re not supposed to care, why do you care so very, very much?

  144. Jen June 30, 2011 at 8:03 am #

    Because I actually care about other people’s kids and how they are being raised. Don’t you feel badly for the kids whose parents clearly smother them – the ones we talk about on this site on a consistent basis? So you don’t agree that that is what you are doing, but that is what I believe.

    So agree to disagree.

  145. gramomster June 30, 2011 at 8:21 am #

    I too have been hesitant to weigh in on the leash thing, but what Dolly said about her mother’s baby brother kind of struck home. We live in an age where it is fairly unusual to lose a child to injury or illness, though of course it still happens. We think it to be the most horrid of traumas to endure. We are lucky enough to have been able to forget that a couple generations ago, parents EXPECTED that not all of their children would survive. Between disease (thank you immunization and antibiotics), and safety devices, we can have a child and pretty much completely expect that said child will make it to adulthood.
    My grandmother lost 2 siblings, one to wandering off after waking from a nap during a family picnic by the lake, and one to measles.
    I lived for a long time in northern California. Certain kind of mindset about parenting, and many parents who do not immunize. One of my best friends there mentioned to me that she did not immunize, and would not immunize. Her reasoning? She’d never known anyone who’d had polio. Ummm… maybe because everyone she knew had been immunized as a child?! My grandfather had polio. He dealt with post-polio syndrome from the age of 45 until his death at 83. This meant walking with a crutch and not being able to use his left side effectively. He couldn’t pick things up, he couldn’t drive a manual transmission.
    My own baby grandson contracted pertussis at 7 weeks. Some of the teens around our house had it, and nobody had a clue it was freaking whooping cough! It was damp where we lived, he was born in May, it was normal for pretty much everybody to have a crappy cough by spring. He was in the hospital for several days, and it took quite a while to figure out what was wrong with him. Even the medical staff eliminated everything else… it’s a teaching hospital, we went in the middle of the night, there was an assumption he’s been immunized, but he wasn’t old enough at that point.
    So yes, let’s all remember how damn lucky we are to have choices and devices and modern medicine available to us to help us keep our kids safe, even while we teach them to keep themselves safe.

    And my grandson, who is neuro-typical, is a very bright, very curious and capable boy. He didn’t listen because he figured he could figure it out. Tools, saws, windows, doors, gates… the kid was a Houdini, and he simply disregarded discipline and rules. Much like his mother. He’s more grounded now at 5, but at 3? Forget it. And he still runs. He thinks it’s hilarious, no matter how much trouble he gets in for doing it. In his mind, it’s waaaaay worth whatever the ramifications are.

    That being said, I’ve never used a leash, and most likely wouldn’t, but I had a flashback to an experience of my daughter, above-mentioned grandson’s mother, who, while we were out one day and I was getting her infant brother into the front pack, ran out of the building the store was in, and right smack into the street. There was nothing I could do. I used a tie-on pack, and it was drop the 3 month old to chase her, or call to her, or finish tying him on, then chase. None good options. Fortunately, a bystander saw what was going on, and ran after her, but she retrieved her from the middle. of. the. street. She was 2 and a half, it was 1992. Absolutely heartstopping.

  146. pentamom June 30, 2011 at 8:32 am #

    “(Maybe your child WANTS to be treated like a dog, and the leash is a compromise so she’ll stop asking if you can put her plate on the floor. Not that I’d know anything about THAT, of course…. I never thought I’d have to make a rule “no eating off the floor like a dog” in my life!)”

    LOL, memories! I never had a “dog,” but I had someone I had to forbid from acting like a cat at mealtimes, because she did pretty much all the rest of the time, and I had to have SOME limits.

  147. Hineata June 30, 2011 at 8:36 am #

    I don’t think the Duggars travelled out of the States, or, from memory, by plane much (I just recently read one of their books). My grandmother had seven kids, another uncle had 16 (his wife had eighteen, two while he was serving overseas, but that’s the subject for another blog 🙂 ). They never used reins, but by the same token they also never travelled far with their kids – no money! Certainly never in crowded aeroports! My kids all get on fine, the younger two survived their time on leashes to be very independent kids – in fact, purely because of the environment we are lucky enough to live in, possibly more free-range than many here on the blog – my suitcases remained drug-free, and my husband retained his sanity….Reins simply serve a useful purpose when one has more young kids than one has hands for…..

  148. pentamom June 30, 2011 at 8:37 am #

    “Yes, they have older children too, but at one point they didn’t.”

    They weren’t on TV, then, either. Do you know for sure they didn’t use leashes, or confinementchairsImeanstrollers or confinementbagsImeancarriers before they had kids old enough to keep an eye on younger ones?

  149. Uly June 30, 2011 at 8:51 am #

    I’m glad I’m not alone, Pentamom! I never did get an actual leash, but I did let Evangeline leash herself with all manner of scarves and ropes and slings and whatnot, with the rule that we never ever EVER leash around the neck. Ever. And that no matter if you’re just pretending, it’s not acceptable for one sister to take the other out to the backyard to “do her business”. I can only imagine what the neighbors would think, and believe it or not, there are some things I’m not willing to have discussed behind our backs!

  150. Uly June 30, 2011 at 8:53 am #

    Edit: The incident in question was during a week when we were visiting California and their mom was back home. Otherwise I absolutely would’ve punted that one towards their parents to deal with. I have enough to do in my life without explaining to kids why there is a limit to playing as dogs.

  151. Hineata June 30, 2011 at 9:39 am #

    @Jen. Actually, the more I think about it (between sentences of a university assignment – the things we do to get out of work, LOL!) the more your statements make MY ‘blood boil’! Why in the world would leashing younger children in crowds, by busy roads etc be termed smothering? When you see children out in public on leashes, at least they are a/ out in the world, getting to see some ‘real-world’ stuff, not at home in front of the telly, b/ unlikely to be squashed under the nearest vehicle, c/presumably, to need a leash, walking, thereby exercising their developing muscles.

    Personally I didn’t need to use a leash under normal circumstances, i.e. at home in my own country, but only because two of my kids, the oldest and youngest, weren’t ‘runners’, and the middle one, who was, had motor developmental issues which made her quite slow and easy to catch! So, fine that you didn’t use reins, Jen, but I applaud those parents who have ‘runners’ and who still get their kids out in public and manage to keep them safe – which, for those whose families number more than 1- sometimes involves using reins…….

  152. Jen June 30, 2011 at 9:42 am #

    It is more than possible to take your kids out in the world without tethering them to you. I have been doing it since they were walking. Rarely did I use a strolled for more than hauling THINGS. So when we did go on vacation to Disneyland, I didn’t hear ONE complaint from my kids about their feet hurting now did I have any trouble keeping track of them – on July 4th weekend! And boy, was that a fantastic vacation!

  153. Hineata June 30, 2011 at 10:00 am #

    Good on you – Disneyland is fantastic! Though we’ve never got to the one in the States – that’s probably the best. However, how many kids do you have? And how close in age? As I said, I never normally had to leash/ rein in my kids, and I had 3 under 5 (2 under 2), but I have seen plenty of parents with 4 under 5, and seldom were they able to keep all their kids under control all of the time when out alone in public.

    Bottom line, Mums should do what works for them, and if reins enable one to go out in public with one’s kids safely, go for it!

    Also, Disneyland is pretty darn safe – hardly a public street, or a busy aeroport, though it probably is crowded…..

  154. antsy June 30, 2011 at 10:32 am #

    I think I’m on the older side of Moms here who still have children at home, so I hope nobody jumps on me for saying that I started out thinking leashes on children were very, very weird.. The first time I saw one (about 40 years ago) my whole family stopped dead in its tracks and someone exclaimed, “Is that kid on a LEASH?!!!” We really could not believe our eyes. And after that I don’t know if I ever saw such a sight again (possibly once or twice) until I was grown and married and moved to England. It was quite common there. I “only” had five children then (ages 6 and under) and liked trying things the English way, so I got one and “gave it a go”. I didn’t really need it though, so it ended up going to charity before we moved back to the States. It was fun telling my now high school aged son that I put him on a leash a few times when he was small. He and his six siblings think it is a funny story (we still don’t see kids on leashes around our town).

    I am surprised to hear that so many here at Free Range Kids have used them because I thought they were still rare – apparently not, but maybe they’re more often used at places we never go (airports, amusement parks). Still, I’m ALL for parents’ rights and their freedom to parent in their own way. Just better not hear someday that a leash LAW is being considered for children of certain ages or in certain locations. That might seem like an absurd thought to some of you, but I’m old enough to have seen the trend, so never say never!

  155. Dolly June 30, 2011 at 10:51 am #

    Uly: LOVE the name Evangeline! One of my fav girl names recently!

    My boys like to pretend to be dogs. That means wanting me to throw the ball for them to fetch. And sometimes they bring it back in their teeth. 😛

  156. Dolly June 30, 2011 at 10:55 am #

    Part of the reason you don’t see leashes as often now as they can be easily disguised. I got the monkey backpacks ones for my boys. I rarely used the actual leash but after we didn’t need them anymore the boys liked just wearing the monkeys around the house. I think they are still in their dress up box. So I doubt they suffered from it. The backpack ones are genius. You can tuck the leash/tail in if you don’t need it and then whip it out if you do need it for a minute. The rest of the time its a fun cute backpack.

  157. SKL June 30, 2011 at 11:30 am #

    On Wednesday evenings in summer, there is a weekly music festival type thing near our usual Wednesday haunt. I love to take my kids there, precisely because there are a lot of people and it gets them used to how to deal with that. I encourage them to go off and play without me. It is easy enough for me to find them to check on them periodically.

    Why do I do this? One, to get the kids confident about doing their own thing (considerately) even when surrounded by strangers. There are always other kids playing, dancing, and showing off, so that is an encouragement to mine, who tend to be shy. What’s the point of being a dance fanatic if you’re scared to dance in public?

    Two, this gives my kids practice in troubleshooting when they actually need to find me, or a bathroom, or whatever, on their own. With practice comes confidence.

    Three, it gives my kids a chance to talk to strangers. When I’m with them, they generally will not open their mouths, but when they are at a distance, they are much more likely to interact with the kids around them, and of course that’s great on many levels.

    So with this experience, I hope that if we ever do get accidentally separated at a place like the county fair, they will have a clue what to do to resolve the problem.

  158. Hineata June 30, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

    @antsy – amen to that – a law would be a real shocker! And maybe reins etc are more an English/Commonwealthe thing….That might be the crux of some of the arguments that have happened here. The fun thing about these sort of chats is that they are international, and we all have such different perspectives. Where I live there are footpaths everywhere, most parents of preschoolers still walk their kids lots of places, and many people have multiple preschoolers. Also, frankly, I think people just don’t see reins as being an issue. The same people that put reins on their two-year-olds will let said child walk to the dairy at six with/without siblings to buy the paper etc. Simply not seen as anti ‘free-range’ – not that free-range is on most peoples’ radar either. Most kids are relatively free anyway…..

  159. Uly June 30, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

    Thanks, Dolly. Lots of people say that, though until really recently it wasn’t very common outside of Louisiana. (Or so I’ve always heard, anyway.)

    Playing fetch with the kiddos! That, now, I’ve never been asked to do. Although I *did* spontaneously yell “Fetch!” at them when they were little and we played ball. And sometimes, you know, I only pretended to throw the ball and then hid it under my leg.

    Gosh, I hope this isn’t all my fault. Well, so long as she outgrows it. (She seems to have. Right now she mostly is a cheetah instead of a dog. Not, admittedly, much of an improvement, but at least she’s stopped barking.)

  160. KateNonymous June 30, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    Jen, how is holding your child’s hand less “smothering”?

    Don’t worry about it; I know how you feel, and I don’t expect you to change your mind. You’re entitled to your opinion, just as we all are.

  161. kelcline June 30, 2011 at 5:43 pm #

    when you are holding a hand you are right there with the child. the “leash” allows them to roam within a boundary.

  162. Tuppence June 30, 2011 at 9:22 pm #

    For me, this whole leash issue is as it was for antsy — I never saw them used in the US; neither growing up, or as an adult living there, but unlike antsy, I then moved to a country that never uses them. Also, like ansty, I am quite surprised at the number of “free rangers” here that say they use/d them — it is this information that made me surmise the are in “normal” use now in the States.

    To those of you who write that they existed before, do you think that they are being used more frequently now? Please note: It does not surprise or shock me to learn that leashes have, a one point or another, been used on children sometime in the past. So no need to tell me about you, your brother, or a Wikipedia entry regarding leash usage on children. I am certain that is all true.

    However, I grew up in one of the most densely populated areas of the United States and lived there for some 30 odd years, and never saw a child on a leash. For some years now, I haven’t been living in the States. From what I read in these comments (and given, my assumption of normality is based only on this), it would seem that using a leash in not uncommon in the States now. Leashes commonly being used — commonly used — on children did not used to be the order of the day in the recent past in the US, if where I lived for many years is any indication.

    Whether or not leashes were used before wasn’t really what I wanted to get at. My point was to ponder the question — Is the current trend in leash use an indication that a parent is no longer “allowed” by societal norms, not to have physical control over her child at ALL times?

    I mean, no need to explain how helpful it is in a crowded place, and so on, I understand all that. But I was wondering if leash use has implications beyond the apparent practical, though they may be, aspects. I thought maybe we could take this convo to a more “abstract” level, if you will.

    I am reminded of a “Judge Judy” episode I saw that I think demonstrates this attitude. The case was about a child being hit (almost being hit?) by a car in a parking lot. Mother of child says her daughter was hit by a man who was driving too fast in the parking lot and not paying enough attention to his surroundings. J.J. came down hard on the mother for not controlling HER child. HER responsibility. To my mind, someone parking a car in a parking lot has to take into consideration that people, not just cars will be there – it’s a parking lot, people get out of their cars and go somewhere. People, walking about, are to be expected in a parking lot (this is NOT the crux of what I want to get at here, if others think driver was in the right, that’s fine). But, how about a dash of old time wisdom that — kids will be kids; and they dart around incautiously sometimes. It’s just something that living in this world as we’ve known it up to now brings – kids and their nonsense. If not the drivers fault (my take), then I should think this would need to be filed under “accident”. But no. No, the mother needed a dressing down. She needed a talking to about how this never would have happened if she’d been doing what she should have. The mother needed to be “taught” that she was at fault. The mother was responsible, or irresponsible, as J.J. saw it.

    Now, I know that it’s just a tv show that makes its money from having a nasty woman tell people off. But isn’t it also representative of a mindset that’s taken hold of the American psyche? And, of course that was the subject of the post that kicked this one off. It seems like there’s no longer any grace given. It has become the duty of the parent to prevent any and all mishaps all day (and night, see tweet about baby leaving house, sleeping mother now held in custody) long. And maybe leashes are, like, if you will, the physical manifestation of this demand. Looked at another way, the leashes don’t just keep the child from running away, they also keeps the parent “chained” to the child.

  163. dmd June 30, 2011 at 10:03 pm #

    I haven’t read all of the huge number of responses here, but can see that the leash thing comes up over and over. I can tell you that I’m 45 and my grandparents (who took care of me most of the time) had a leash for me when I was little, so it is not a new invention of over anxious parents. I don’t actually recall their using with me anywhere, but I do recall making my grandfather put it on me in the house one day and walk me around the house so I could pretend to be a puppy.

    We had a leash for my son that we used maybe three times – at Jazz Fest and at Mardi Gras. For anyone who has attended either event, you would know that the crowds are amazing. There are adults I know who would like a leash. And yes, as someone suggested, I suppose we could have stayed home. But part of our Free Range philosophy is in exposing our son to all that our unique culture (New Orleans) has to offer in a safe, family-friendly way.

    Leashes, like a lot of other things, are not an all-or-nothing scenario. If you are using a leash every time you walk out the door, yeah, it’s a bit much and you need to work on teaching your kid what his/her parameters are and how to keep safe. If you are using them in a unique situation to make everyone (kids, parents) feel more comfortable, then you’re probably doing the right thing.

  164. Myriam June 30, 2011 at 10:08 pm #

    It is undoubtedly true a good mother these days is one who holds on to her child (under the age of say 7). I was told off by a stranger just recently for letting my 5.5 year old ride his scooter a few yards ahead of me.
    It makes me laugh when people say how rowdy children are these days. I don’t see a lot of evidence of that – what I see around me every day is 8 year olds and even older, holding their mothers’ hands and walking to school in a very quiet, very orderly and, frankly, eerily subdued manner. I bet if you could go back in time to my street 60 years ago you’d see a very different picture indeed. And would be a lot rowdier.
    However, the very same people who insist that a young child must hold their mother’s hand at all times, can also be the same people that look down on leashes. That’s my point – it’s all arbitrary.

    For me, it’s not about leashes per se, it’s about the way certain things become markers for bad mothers (dummies, strollers, leashes, bottle feeding, etc). Yet, if people stopped to think about them for a moment, they are not objectively bad, or at least no worse than something else that is deemed acceptable. Perhaps the only difference is that working class women are more likely to use them (or have I gone too far now?). Another place or another time in history and it will be something different althogether.

  165. Laura June 30, 2011 at 10:24 pm #

    @Cindy – Thank you! My son used to scoot on his bottom but insists he is big now and can walk them. And if he would consistently use the side with the rail, I’d teach him to work the gate, but he’s not as steady as he thinks he is with just a hand on the wall. Sigh. Either way the gate stays – I have another little one due at the end of the year so I’ll need it again – but if I know he can open it and head down that would be better.

    As far as the ongoing leash debate…I think, like most parenting things, it depends on the kid. If the choice is leash, stroller, or locked in the house, and the parent is comfortable with the leash, I think the kid benefits from being able to go out, walk, and roam! A kid on a leash has MORE freedom than a kid whose hand is being held, actually. (Which no, does not mean I am against hand-holding. We mostly do that, as my son is good about staying near by and when he yanks his hand out it’s usually only to give his arm a rest and stand right by us. But I don’t see how the leash is LESS free-range than hand-holding.)

    Would I use it on a normally-developed/developing 6-year-old? Goodness, no. But on a 2 or 3 year old, absolutely. Impulse control is still being learned at that age, and some learn it faster and easier than others. Far better to give them what freedom you can.

    My son’s actually been in a leash, but only when we traveled when he was an early walker and we were in the airport, which is NOT a place I wanted to lose my child due to the masses of people and the possible freakouts if he dashed through security. Actually, I was really GLAD to have the leash the whole trip even though he only ever wore it in the airport until we were at our gate, each way. It was a monkey backpack, and he loved it, and snuggled it for comfort the whole trip. Win!

  166. Laura June 30, 2011 at 10:29 pm #

    @Tuppence – I live in the US (Oregon, Portland metro area, so not the densest population but not small-town either) and I seldom see leashes now. They are not what I would call common at all. I see them more often at airports, big festival events, etc., but even there I see them on relatively few kids, even among the toddler set.

    Among the ones who look to be 2-and-under, I see far more strollers than hand-holders, and far more hand-holders than leashes, in everyday situations.

    (And I wonder if part of the deciding factor in airports, besides the crowds, is the infeasability of moving along rolling luggage and a stroller at the same time, plus the risk of damage to the stroller if you take it as carry-on, since I believe they have to be gate-checked.)

  167. Myriam June 30, 2011 at 10:39 pm #

    Yes, leashes are not that common in England. Not that uncommon either, but definitely not considered indispensable. Also, they do carry a slight stigma.

  168. SKL June 30, 2011 at 10:43 pm #

    Tuppence, about the parking lot – I agree that drivers should watch for people. But parents need to remember that their kids might be too short for some drivers to see from behind their wheel. And of course, a driver can’t be held responsible if someone’s kid darts out suddenly, e.g., from between cars.

    That doesn’t mean parents need to hang onto their kids, but they are responsible to make sure the kids are not putting themselves at risk. Whether that means being tethered/held, staying very close to Mom, following Mom’s instructions, or for more experienced kids, using judgment to stay out of the way of cars.

  169. SKL June 30, 2011 at 10:47 pm #

    My mom didn’t use a leash on any of her six kids. But she wasn’t afraid to spank a child if necessary to enforce safe behavior. Nowadays people are afraid to give their kids a swift whack on the butt to keep them out of the street. So that could be a reason for the increase in use.

  170. Uly June 30, 2011 at 11:27 pm #

    It’s not necessarily fear, SKL. Many people simply *choose* not to spank their children, or else to restrict it for very serious situations and to do what they can to avoid those situations coming up.

    Some of these people (I’m trying to forestall a common complaint here!) were primarily spanked as children and don’t have any role models or good ideas about discipline other than “I don’t think it was that great for me”, and that doesn’t always end well with their kids. However, there are other, perfectly effective ways of child-rearing that don’t have to involve “a swat on the butt”.

    Choosing to use a leash because you don’t want to spank your kid is a reasonably valid choice… so long as, of course, you don’t go overboard. (For that matter, pro-spanking advocates will all agree you can go overboard with spanking as well.)

    I was told off by a stranger just recently for letting my 5.5 year old ride his scooter a few yards ahead of me.
    It makes me laugh when people say how rowdy children are these days. I don’t see a lot of evidence of that – what I see around me every day is 8 year olds and even older, holding their mothers’ hands and walking to school in a very quiet, very orderly and, frankly, eerily subdued manner.

    I once got a “This is not a playground!” comment from a cranky old man because my nieces and a friend ran ahead of me on a sidewalk. OMG! Children! Running! No, it’s not a playground, but it’s a public thoroughfare, and they’re members of the public getting from here to there. People ARE allowed to run on the sidewalk so long as they’re not pushing other people. (And there aren’t very many playgrounds in our area either, and the ones that are there aren’t very good. Given how many CHILDREN we have, it’s absolutely appalling.)


    And yeah, I hear you about kids being too subdued. I had to get on a bus the other day to register my niece for a new school with a gifted program. The school is WAY far away, and I’m not entirely sure it’s suited for her (that is, it’s not very diverse. Not at all, in fact, all Italians. Her current school is very mixed, about 1/3 each Hispanics, Blacks, and Whites, with some Asians and at least one biracial kid per class. The nieces fit right in.) but what can you do? She’s in kindergarten and already bored in class. My sister’s looking into her options, though.

    Anyway, here it is, last day of school for the Parochial schools, and on the way back a group of them hopped on the bus to go home. Last day of school, and they were practically silent on the bus, and very still at the bus stop. I used to take the bus all the time at the same time schools let out, and I never saw high schoolers act like this. They were always polite to me, offering me a seat when they saw the two young nieces and telling their friends off if they cursed around small kids, but they acted their age at least! I quietly put this school’s name on the list of High Schools Not For The Nieces. It was just creepy and weird.

  171. Cheryl W June 30, 2011 at 11:45 pm #

    As far as how often leashes are used here in the US. When I was carrying one for use on my son, I was the only one of my friends who had one or used one. And frankly, I didn’t use it that often, except at crowded areas like the Santa Cruz Flea Market or the Monterrey Aquarium, and the one or two trips a year to the Mall.

    The only places that I saw leashes used was the Flea Market, the Aquarium and the Mall. And usually, if I saw one other kid a day wearing it that was a lot. So no, not a lot of parents using them, and only in crowded areas. I don’t think I ever saw one going from the parking lot to the store. Usually people just grab a cart and put the kids all in it in the parking lot.

  172. Tuppence July 1, 2011 at 12:22 am #

    Hi Myriam, thanks for understanding what I was hoping to dialogue about — whether or not leashes “represent” the level of attentiveness (v.v. high one?) expected, and in the end, demanded, of a parent these days. Appreciate your other comments as well, and will chew ’em over.

    Other comments coming in concerning commonness of leash usage might make one surmise that that leash use is overrepresented in the free- range community. Because a lot of folks here said they personally use/d them, but now people are writing they are rare. Hum.

  173. SKL July 1, 2011 at 12:40 am #

    Tuppence, they are rare where I live (Midwest USA). I have seen some but the are definitely the exception rather than the rule.

  174. SKL July 1, 2011 at 12:59 am #

    Uly, I’m not trying to start a fight about spanking, but for those who were spanked for “the big stuff” at least, spanking is usually seen as a valid option for street-running, because most would say it is a “very serious situation.”

    When I was growing up, even the nicest, most patient mom on the block spanked her 1yo for going in the street. She was right there, told the child not to go, but let the child go and spanked her. Why? Because she wanted to be sure the lesson would be remembered even whe Mom wasn’t right there to remind her. (And as her daughter cried, she turned away and revealed how much she wished that didn’t have to be done.) Now if her daughter ever has children, there’s a pretty good chance those kids will get a spank if they stray into the street. Because frankly, it’s life or death, and there aren’t many great alternatives for getting a tot to remember and control an impulse. Electric shock, choke chains, maybe a few others, but the rare spanking is right up there.

    For those parents who believe it makes more sense to wait until the child responds to reason, and trust their vigilence in the mean time, fine. That’s a parenting choice. I’m just saying that because most of us were spanked for that kind of thing, other effective teaching methods (if there are any) for that situation aren’t going to be in their repertoire.

  175. Robin July 1, 2011 at 4:00 am #

    I have to say, I have one of those “precociously mobile” children, and I never would have considered a leash, but . . . up to now, the rule has been he has to stay close or I pick him up. Which makes him mad if he wants to walk. The problem is that he is now a quarter of my body weight and strong. It is getting more and more difficult to safely hold on to him when he is trying to get away. We have not even reached the 1.5 year mark. I’m wondering whether the leash is a better option than not going out any where he can’t walk around safely for the next 2 years or so. My husband was leashed as a child, which originally horrified me, but I’m beginning to see how his tiny mother with two large and impulsive toddler boys came to that decision.

  176. librarymama July 1, 2011 at 8:52 am #

    Here’s the difference:
    When I said, “My daughter is starting to crawl already!” to American moms they sighed and said, “Time to start baby proofing the house!” When I said the same thing to my Spanish friend, she said, “Time to start teaching her what to stay away from!”

  177. Cheryl W July 1, 2011 at 10:33 am #

    Did I use the leash because America has made us mothers hyper aware of what others might be expecting? Probably not. The only time that I stop to think what others might think about my parenting is when I am tempted to swat a kid for misbehaving in public. Other than that, I really could care less what anyone else thinks is appropriate for my kid because they don’t have my kid and live with him 24/7.

    Mostly, I love my son and I didn’t want him hurt, lost or scared because at the same time that he needed the leash he was not verbal in a manner than anyone other than family could understand him.

    To some extent, I do respect the rights of other people in museums and such to have a quiet experience, and me yelling for my son that won’t answer anyhow does not lead to a nice experience for them. Not that I horribly care what they think, it is more a matter of respect, like the kids in the restaurants who yell and screaming that everyone hates. Which is why, actually, besides cost, why we tend to eat out only at lunch time. Because people are more relaxed then about atmosphere and if my kids are not behaving perfectly, it is a little more forgivable.

  178. Tuppence July 1, 2011 at 3:59 pm #

    Yes, Cheryl W, that’s something to consider, too isn’t it? The eating out with young children, taking young children to museums — is probably more common than a generation ago. And I would agree that in such environments, there is an expectation of at least a certain degree of quiet, and a kind of restfulness that people are looking forward to enjoying in those places, that really should be respected. So yeah, maybe children are “more public” (right way to phrase it?) than a generation ago, and therefore DO need more restraint (in such places, anyway).

    librarymama – good one! That pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it?

  179. KateNonymous July 1, 2011 at 11:41 pm #

    “The eating out with young children, taking young children to museums — is probably more common than a generation ago.”

    I don’t know if that’s entirely true, but I do think people’s expectations have changed. My mother took me to museums and restaurants starting when I was an infant, but she made sure that the timeframe was geared to my abilities, and she paired a “grown-up” activity like that with a “kids” activity like the playground. That way I knew that I had to be on my best behavior while we were in the restaurant or museum, but I’d get to burn off energy and have “my” kind of fun afterward.

    What I see now is that people seem to expect the rest of the world to accommodate their children. Kids are allowed to run around screaming in restaurants because “they’re kids.” Well, sure they are. I don’t expect them to be anything else. But what that means is that parents need to consider what that particular child’s attention span and level of patience are, and make sure that they’ve taught that child what the parent expects in terms of behavior. Both those things are crucial, and when combined are less likely to irritate fellow diners or museum-goers. Or laundromat patrons.

  180. Jenny Islander July 2, 2011 at 1:59 am #

    The other problem, KateNonymous, is parents who don’t seem to understand that their kids wouldn’t be running around the restaurant screaming if they were rested, fed a little beforehand, not given sugar, and provided with something to do at their seats. Kids will be kids, but they will be better behaved kids if they are provided with the circumstances that help them behave better. Parents who drag their kids along behind them as their go about their own lives, bumpity-bump, aren’t paying attention.

    And there always has to be a plan B. Plan A is to prepare the kids for a visit to the restaurant. Plan B is to be ready to pile everything into to-go boxes (which should be ordered with the drinks when dining out with kids, just in case). Because kids are not 100 percent predictable.

  181. Dolly July 2, 2011 at 3:35 am #

    Yes I agree with Jenny and Kate about kids out in public. I have always tried to have realistic expectations when it came to my kids in public. Meaning you would not see us in a restaurant late at night with no toys or no distractions in an adult restaurant. No way! We take them to family friendly places and bring toys and try to keep things quick and on their schedule. We also don’t eat out often so that when we do its a treat and they are on their best behavior. I know Larry says you shouldn’t cater your life to your kids on things like this, but we do, not for our kids so much as for our own sanity.

    I don’t want to be that mother with the screaming kid in the restaurant. I hate those mothers now and I hated them before I had kids. If the kid is upset, take them out already so everyone else can enjoy their meal in peace! It is just not mannerly. If it is somewhere you can’t really leave like a plane or doctor’s office I have more patience, but the movies, a restaurant, a department store, are not necessities and you can leave and you should if you can’t get your child calmed down. Its not fair to everyone else without kids or with well behaved kids.

    You won’t see me dragging my boys around dress shopping with me for hours for example. I know they will hate that and that is not really fair to them to expect perfect behavior for something like that. I leave them with their Daddy or their grandmother while I do that kind of stuff. If I have to do something with them I always try to include an activity or present for them on the same trip. Mine are really good out in public and I pride myself on that. It means I have to sacrifice and plan a lot more, but I am okay with that. I don’t want to be seen as the mother who ruins everyone else’s day with their screaming kids out in public. If we have to leave because they act up and it has happened once or twice, we will.

  182. Uly July 2, 2011 at 8:43 am #

    You won’t see me dragging my boys around dress shopping with me for hours for example. I know they will hate that and that is not really fair to them to expect perfect behavior for something like that.

    Of course, unlike going out to eat, people DO have to buy clothing. And sometimes they have no choice but to bring their children with them. Not everybody has family available to watch their kids at the right time, unfortunately.

    I always try to have sympathy for people with the screaming or misbehaving kids on the bus or the train or at the store. I assume that if they had a choice they would’ve done something else and left those kids at home.

  183. Dolly July 2, 2011 at 11:28 am #

    Uly: Dress shopping is not a necessity of life. I am talking about a for pleasure shopping trip. As long as you have clothes with no holes and that fit, then clothes shopping is not a necessity for living. Actually you can even get around that. I do most of my clothes shopping online. I never have to leave the house and my kids will happily play in the playroom while I buy my new clothes. So I don’t tend to have sympathy for parents with crying kids in clothing stores. Grocery stores, sure. Big difference.

  184. KateNonymous July 2, 2011 at 11:41 am #

    Eh, sometimes kids cry, and everyone has to get out of the house. The store thing doesn’t bother me that much, although everyone has his or her own pet peeves.

    And kids do cry–sometimes no matter what you do. I understood that even before I had children. But it was never hard to tell which parents were trying, and which parents were not. (I’ve even been able to tell on planes which parents have been trying, but at this particular moment are too exhausted. That happens, too. I never had an issue with those parents.)

    Oh, and Jenny, I totally agree with your Plan B. We take BabyNonymous to restaurants, but only to ones we think are a good fit for her, and we’re always prepared to pay and leave at a moment’s notice.

  185. SKL July 2, 2011 at 12:13 pm #

    Just took my kids to a nice restaurant tonight. My friend chided me for correcting my kids every time they crossed the line of considerate behavior (e.g., singing loud enough for the next table to hear, trying to eat too huge a piece without cutting it first). But as we were getting ready to leave, someone came up and said mine were the most well-behaved kids she’d ever seen in a restaurant. A few minutes later another group of patrons complimented them as “very well behaved.” So then I asked my friend – is my frequent instruction worth it? She agreed it is.

    I was initially afraid to take my kids (then 9mos and 12mos) to nice restaurants. But my friends dragged us to one and the kids behaved beautifully. I decided to just go with it and be ready to leave if they acted up. We have gone out at least once a week since then, and we never choose a restaurant based on whether it’s kid-friendly. My kids have never yet been the loudest voices in the place. When they were under 2, I used to feed them something first, bring finger foods, and maybe a toy to keep them occupied. But they didn’t need that past age 2. There is enough to look at and talk about in a restaurant.

    This may not sound like a free-range issue, but in a sense it is. When I was a kid, I almost never went to nice restaurants, so when I went to live in a dorm and was invited to go out, or had a “lunch interview,” I felt extremely awkward. I was sure that something I’d do would be wrong. Eventually I bought a “Miss Manners” book and that helped. But I want my kids to grow up being exposed to and comfortable with etiquette. When they are old enough for it to matter, I want it to be second nature, not something they have to think about. So hopefully they will be more willing to get out there and try new things on their own.

  186. JM July 2, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

    I just wanted to say that as much as some parents are obsessed with safety for their children like with keeping them attach to them every second constantly watching them always holding their hands and wrapping them in head to toe foam rubber every time they will be out of their sight for even a second. i notice that too many parents skimp on the one safety device that actually matters. their car seat. In the great state of Florida that i live in the day a child turns 4 they are no longer required to use any type of car seat of booster seat. I have a friend that the day her baby turned 4 she was giving away the booster seat and she also tried to skip the toddler seat all together by putter her 24 month old in a booster seat (law says that children can’t use them until they are 3.) then when they do put them in they wrap the shoulder strap around the back of them because it bothers them. I work in an early childhood setting and i am always surprised by the disregard these parents have for the safety of their child while riding in a car. Too many forward facing 9 month olds and 2 year olds in a booster and 3 year olds with no car seat because they look like they could be 4. and these are the same parents who tell me to only feed their child 3 crackers for snack because they don’t want their child to get fat. and the same parents are the reason we are not allowed staplers, glitter and beads because god forbid their child get hurt by one.we are also not allowed to run outside because they might fall or have “teacher scissors” b/c a child might walk up to use while we are cutting stick their fingers in the way and get cut but when it comes to a danger that actually exists they regard it as a non issue.

  187. antsy July 2, 2011 at 5:14 pm #

    JM, you have just described me! Not 100%, but with the carseat/booster seat business you sure have. No doubt the safest
    way is to keep everyone in one of those contraptions as long as possible, but with our seven children we could not keep up with those ever-changing laws. At one time we had five children ages six and under – I felt like the law was beginning to dictate how many children a family was allowed to have, or at least their spacing, or else requiring them to purchase a small bus in order to fit all those carseats and boosters. Needless to say, several of our children moved on to the next stage earlier than they were supposed to. I don’t know, but I’m guessing there are many people out there who strongly feel that I shouldn’t have had seven children if I couldn’t fit them in the car with all of their safety seats. It’s hard for me, who grew up without seatbelts and before carseats (I mean the kind for safety) were even invented, to see it that way.

    As you were saying though, it really is so interesting that certain risks are overblown for certain people when they take riskier risks all the time without a thought. It seems that everybody has his or her “thing” that might not really make sense if the statistics were shown, but for some reason it is a bigger deal to that person. Maybe he or she “heard a story about someone who…” much like myself and one of the stories I grew up hearing. My mother’s friend when she was a child stepped on a coat hanger which flew up and blinded her in one eye. I have no risk statistics, but never mind. No wire coat hanger stays on the floor a second after it is spotted at our home and children will be scolded for that offense!

  188. Uly July 2, 2011 at 8:51 pm #

    Dress shopping is not a necessity of life. I am talking about a for pleasure shopping trip.

    I would never shop for clothes for pleasure. If I am shopping for a dress, it is because I need a dress for some purpose.

    As long as you have clothes with no holes and that fit, then clothes shopping is not a necessity for living.

    And that’s presuming that you have clothes that are appropriate for job interviews as well, or for that funeral you have to attend, or for your sister’s wedding (you COULD show up in your jeans, but you probably should not do that) and that you’re shopping for yourself and not your children.

    Actually you can even get around that. I do most of my clothes shopping online

    I’m glad you do not have to try on clothes before you purchase them, and you have easy access to a secure computer (if, say, the only access you have to a computer is at the public library, you probably do not want to order stuff there!), and you also can use a credit or debit card for everyday purchases and do not have to operate mostly using cash. All these things can mean that somebody actually HAS to go to the store, in person, to get clothes. And they may actually NEED new clothes. For example, one easy scenario I can think of that encompasses all of them is if, say, their house just burned down or was flooded.

  189. Dolly July 2, 2011 at 10:01 pm #

    Uly: LOL yeah let’s think up a scenario that rarely happens all your clothing being burned up or flooded and go with that as an excuse to take your bored tired misbehaving kids to a nice clothing store and let them ruin everyone else’s shopping experience so you can buy new clothes. The point is if you really try like I do it is possible to never have crying kids out in public. I manage it. If they cry I book it out of there. I don’t keep perusing the dresses and taking my sweet time. That is the kind of behavior that pisses me off.

  190. Jen July 2, 2011 at 10:24 pm #

    @Dolly so you are ensuring that your kids never learn how to behave in public. And keeping your kids tethered to your home. Yes, that’s a much better solution.

  191. SKL July 2, 2011 at 10:44 pm #

    As for clothes shopping with kids. I have NEVER in my life gone clothes shopping for “pleasure.” I loathe it. But my clothes do wear out. Online shopping is indeed a Godsend, but it doesn’t work for every kind of purchase. And if you’re a single mom, you can’t leave your kids home with Dad.

    I have never hired a babysitter so I could go off and do something personal. Nor do I ever plan to. I take my kids with me and teach them to behave. If they are not perfect, I can live with that, considering how many older children and adults act worse. At least I’m making an effort and teaching my kids along the way.

    Now if I had a child who really could not learn to behave acceptably in public, I would probably consider making other arrangements for said child when I shop. But as I’ve said before, those children are few and far between.

    I would note that the hardest thing about shopping with wee tots isn’t browsing in a store. It’s getting them in & out of the car at every stop. And being on high alert if they are potty training. Nevertheless, I have taken my kids with me on almost every shopping trip I’ve been on since they were infants. There have been a few trips that have left me frazzled, but we used those as learning opportunities and moved on.

  192. Dolly July 3, 2011 at 12:08 am #

    Jen: there you go being obtuse again. Actually mine go out in public all the time. And they always behave well in public too. Because I don’t drag them around to stuff for me. I take them out to stuff for them. I take them regularly to children’s museums, zoos, playgrounds, kiddie restaurants, etc. I make sure they behave there. They also behave when I do take them to the grocery store or to run a quick errand. I get compliments on how well they behave all the time actually. The point is I make one quick trip to the store, not drag them around all day long to stores. I am sure they would act up if I made them do it all day long. That is not being realistic in how a young child will behave. No little kid is going to be able to handle that. That is actually a very free range idea. I want them outside playing at the playground instead of sitting in a cart all day long.

    The point also is if they do act up I don’t make it anyone else’s problem. Its MY problem and I leave with them and take them home to punish them. I don’t just make everyone else listen to them cry or have to watch me punish them. I care about other people.

  193. Jen July 3, 2011 at 12:12 am #

    Really can’t reply without leaving out the personal insults?

  194. Dolly July 3, 2011 at 12:14 am #

    SKL: If your kids behave, then you are not doing anything wrong. Actually if you teach your kids to behave in stores, they will and its not a problem. Its the parents that don’t train their kids to behave nor will they bother to remove the kids during a tantrum or leave the kids at home that are the problem parents.

    I totally agree the whole getting in and out is the worst part. I can run 3 errands without kids in the time it takes to run 1 with kids because of all the getting in and out of car seats and hand holding and having to walk slower so they can keep up, etc. Its exhausting.

    I have totally dragged my kids out mid tantrum from a store but I only had to do it once or so. They knew I meant business after that and I was terribly embarrassed too. I don’t like to bother other people or call attention to ourselves. It was so funny because when my kids see another kid acting up out in public they will ask me what is wrong with that kid and get confused. They know that behavior is not an option.

  195. Dolly July 3, 2011 at 12:15 am #

    Jen: And you don’t personally insult me? Saying my kids don’t behave in public thus insulting my mothering? oh No, that doesn’t fly.

  196. Jen July 3, 2011 at 12:19 am #

    Read what I wrote again. I did NOT say your kids DON’T behave in public.

  197. Dolly July 3, 2011 at 1:15 am #

    Well you insinuated that.

    I apologize anyway though because I am super crabby today so I am apologizing to everyone today since I know I am probably not being nice.

  198. Allison July 3, 2011 at 1:50 am #

    And Dolly, you again “insinuated” your amazingness by saying “if you try like I do”…as usual, implying that no one can quite do it like Dolly. Can you please, please stop?

  199. Uly July 3, 2011 at 11:58 am #

    The point is if you really try like I do it is possible to never have crying kids out in public.

    Sure, for you. YOU have a grandmother nearby. YOU have their dad nearby. Both these people are willing and able to help out. They’re not sick or senile, you and your partner aren’t working split shifts. YOU can shop online for clothes. YOU think clothes shopping is a pleasure instead of a chore (believe me, that crying kid isn’t ruing my shopping experience unless it is MY crying kid. I’m already unhappy about the “experience”. Perfectly good money that could’ve been spent on books….)

    Not everybody is as lucky as YOU are. Instead of criticizing everybody else, sit down and count your blessings. (YOU also have well-behaved children who learn quickly and fast from one little lesson. Lucky, lucky you.)

    Sometimes people need to buy clothes. When my jeans tear I patch them, but eventually I have patches on patches and I have to get a new pair. I have some fine motor control issues, and many of my shirts are stained from eating. Eventually, I have to replace them just so I don’t look like a total derelict slob. If I were to lose or gain weight I’d need new clothes. I mostly have casual clothes. If I suddenly needed to go on interviews, I’d need to quickly buy a set of clothes for interviews and the like.

    It’s great to up and leave the store when your kids misbehave. However, sometimes, that’s actually not a reasonable option. If I’m on the bus late at night, and the kids start acting up, and my choices are to stay on the bus and deal or get off the bus and wait half an hour or an hour (bus service on Staten Island really, really sucks and is tied onto the Ferry schedule) – I’m not going to get off the bus. Everybody else is going to have to suck it up, because I didn’t actually choose to be stuck on the bus at that hour.

    Same thing goes for when we’re on the checkout line at the grocery store and there is NO food in the house and it’s either finish shopping or go without dinner. Same thing goes for when I need to get a pair of non-holey shoes and each kid needs a pair of shoes that fits them TODAY because their feet hurt. Maybe I should leave, but I know how far the shoe store is from the house. I’m not going to travel out of my way just to turn back unshod.

    That is actually a very free range idea. I want them outside playing at the playground instead of sitting in a cart all day long.

    Free range is taking your kids to kid places and ordering your life around them all the time? Well, again, you’re lucky that you’re able to do that. Not everybody has your resources. Not everybody has playgrounds nearby, or can afford to go to museums and zoos, or can arrange to only do errands and chores when they have a ready babysitter.

    Do you really think that people who take their kids to the store with them are doing it because they hate having their kids happy and playing? Or because they’re so stupid they can’t see that the zoo is the place for children instead of the store?

  200. Uly July 3, 2011 at 12:05 pm #

    And btw, here is where I do believe I am better than Dolly. (It’s possible!)

    When I’m in the store, or the library, or the bus, or… anywhere, really, and I hear a crying child – I mind my own business. I assume that the grown-ups with the child are doing the best they can and that if they had had a choice they would’ve avoided the entire situation. And I sit down and am thankful that my nieces are the ones behaving, rather than being thankful that their parents and I are just so awesome.

    If I get a compliment on my niece’s behavior, I thank the person who gave it and sit down and remind myself that we’re just lucky that day. There’s sure to be another day when they squabble in public or speak rudely to me where everybody can hear or hog the bench or run up to the back of the bus where I’d rather they didn’t sit. And then I’ll have to deal with it, and I’ll think everybody is staring at me thinking I suck as a parent (which isn’t the case at all, of course. I suck as an aunt!) and half of them think I’m being too harsh and the other half think this would never have happened if we had free babysitting at the drop of the proverbial hat. (We do, actually. It’s called me.)

  201. Jen July 3, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

    This idea that our lives must revolve around our children’s 24/7 is ridiculous. The majority of the problem with “kids today” is their sense of entitlement and this is where they get it. If I have errands to run, and the kids are with me, guess what? They need to come along. And they need to behave. Anyone who thinks or acts otherwise is creating yet another generation of that entitlement. Those of you feeling the need to apologize or defend having to take your children shopping, there is NO need.

    Those of you who DO force your lives to work AROUND your kids’, you are not doing them any favors by teaching them that the world revolves around them.

  202. LRH July 3, 2011 at 2:17 pm #

    Jen That is exactly right. As I often-times say the idea is to incorporate the kids into my world AS-IS, not having them take over everything. Anything else is pure nuts.


  203. Myriam July 3, 2011 at 3:40 pm #

    Beautifully put Uly. I keep hearing about children running around screaming out of control while their parents smile indulgently. I just never see it, I see very anxious parents keeping their children on a very tight (metaphorical) rein, telling them off for any behaviour that even approaches exuberance or exploring.Nobody wants their children to bisbehave in public. And even the best behaved child will have an off day. I can honestly say I have only seen children running around the supermarket unchecked once.

    I will say that maybe there used to be a clear distinction in the way children were expected to behave in the street and borderline places like shops and the cinema on one hand and restaurants, school and libraries on the other. There was that great expression “indoors and outdoors voices”, meaning you were only allowed to shout outside. Now children are expected to be too subdued outside and don’t get the same message about indoors because of confusing “child-centred” messages like play equipment in libraries, as we discussed in an earlier post.
    As for cinemas, have you ever seen footage of those Saturday morning matinees they used to have for children (in the old days, when children used to know how to behave? It’s absolutely effing pandemonium. There’s no way that would be tolerated today. I don’t suppose people exactly approved of that sort of raucous behavior then either, but it wouldn’t have been considered “antisocial behaviour” like it would be today.

  204. Dolly July 3, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

    I see kids running around while parents smile indulgingly all the freaking time. My mom and stepdad came and told me how upset they were because they went to Cracker barrel and a kid was running around their table yelping and knocking stuff over while the parents AND grandparents beamed like it was the cutest thing in the world! I do see that kind of stuff all the time. That is when I get pissed. I am not the only one that feels that way either. I can’t tell you how many adult movies were ruined by a screaming baby in the theater. Let’s see “Land of the Dead”, “X-Men 3” ruined by a screaming toddler. Those are not kids movies! But since the parents thought they wanted to see it they would just drag the kid along and ruin everyone else’s movie experience. That is the kind of attitude I hate. There is no need for it.

    I actually stated that a grocery store I can understand sometimes having to do the best you can and still finish shopping since you need food to live. You don’t need clothes to live though and under most circumstances you can finish your clothes shopping later. Or at the very least do your clothes shopping at Kmart, not an upscale boutique so that the ambieance of the classy store does not get ruined. Not that I typically shop at fancy clothing stores, but if I ever do, I don’t want to hear a crying child. I don’t enjoy shopping for pleasure. That is why I shop mostly online. Many many many women do enjoy shopping and do it for fun sometimes with kids in tow.

    I don’t have babysitting at a drop of a hat and I find that funny you think I do. I WISH! My mother lives an hour away and with gas prices being what they are, she does not come up but once every 2 weeks about. So no, I don’t have last minute babysitting. My husband works a regular job so he can’t watch them whenever I want him to either. I have to wait till he is off work or on the weekends and I try to limit that as well so he can have relaxing time when he is off work instead of watching the kids all by himself.

    I PLAN well so that if I do need to do something that is not kid friendly then I will have a sitter, but that is not always easy and takes work. My kids are mostly with me and when I do take them out, they behave. If they don’t behave I will leave even if that is hard on me. Because I care about other people in the world and I don’t like to bother other people. That makes me a nice person, not a monster you seem to think I am.

    I rarely get out without my kids so God forbid when I do get out without my kids, yes, I don’t want to hear someone else’s kids screaming. Evidence disagrees with you as well since you guys seem to think that my kids are spoiled because I try to work around them having to tag along on boring errands all the time. Wrong. Because I try to limit their exposure to that when we do occasionally have to do boring errands together they will behave because its a rare occurance and not a daily thing. I also work treats or an outing for them somewhere into the boring chores and that always makes them behave for that part of the day.

    It is possible to not have screaming kids out in public all the time. If your kids are constantly crying or misbehaving in public you are doing something wrong. Either teach them to behave better. Plan better so they can have more playtime mixed in with boring errands or figure out how to get a sitter. Just letting them scream and bother other people is not an option you should be okay with under most circumstances.

  205. Dolly July 3, 2011 at 8:59 pm #

    Jen: No need to apologize for taking your kids shopping with you and if they are behaving. Agreed 100%. However if you take your kids shopping with you and they are not behaving, then disagree 100%. You do have something to apologize for.

    Oh yeah forgot to mention the time Hubby got mowed down by a boy with heelies in the middle of Walmart. That was fun…….

  206. Uly July 3, 2011 at 11:19 pm #

    1. Dolly, again, nobody is saying it’s okay for kids to misbehave in a place where they do NOT have to be. Restaurants, movies – these places, the parents don’t get my sympathy because presumably they chose to be there.

    2. You certainly DO need clothes to live if you want to avoid getting arrested for indecency. Or having your kids hauled away because they don’t ever have clean, weather-appropriate clothes that fit.

    3. Your comments don’t indicate you care about other people. They indicate that you care about what other people think of you. That’s not the same thing at all, even if it sometimes gets similar results.

    Also, it’s great that now your relations are busybusy all the time. Again, at least they’re *there* and can help you out *sometimes*. Some people aren’t that lucky.

    4. And nobody said that their kids are screaming in public “all the time”. However, when you see one kid having a tantrum or hiding or otherwise misbehaving ONE time, unless you know this family well you have no way of knowing if this happened just this once or constantly. You have no way of knowing why they’re out shopping now, or what their options are (“plan better”. What a laugh. Like people willing plan to make their kids miserable just for the lulz!) or… anything. You can judge them, but odds are that your judgment is wrong – and by sharing it out here, you can’t really blame us for condemning you for using less compassion and insight than you could.

    I thought you cared about people, right? Care enough to give them the benefit of the doubt now and then!

    5. And, Dolly, none of us wants to hear the screaming child either. But, again, if they’re screaming anywhere where I can reasonably assume they have to be, instead of standing around criticizing their parents and patting myself on the back, I count my own blessings, individually and by name.

  207. SKL July 4, 2011 at 2:06 am #

    I must agree with others that in my experience, when I go to grown-up places where people do bring their kids, I usually don’t see kids acting disruptively. As in screaming, tripping the other patrons, etc. Maybe that’s because they are used to going out with their parents and know how to act. Or maybe it’s because parents with hellions exercise the good judgment not to bring them to such places.

    Honestly, the one place I can always count on hearing a kid screaming is a toy store. Hence, I very rarely go to toy stores, with or without kids.

    Before kids, I used to be more judgmental about parents with screamy kids. Why are they dragging their kids around at an hour when the poor babies are obviously tired or hungry? Then I became a single mom. No, my kids are not “those kids,” but I came to understand how sometimes you just can’t plan around a tired or hungry kid. I recall the time I was driving my two 1-year-olds to my favorite shopping area. I timed it so we would get there in time to buy something and then have a nice dinner at a restaurant. Then I got a flat tire. Needless to say both of my kids were cranky before we got to the restaurant. I’m sorry about that! But times like that helped me to remember that the parent in the next aisle with the screaming kid might have had a rough, plan-defying day, too.

  208. SKL July 4, 2011 at 2:07 am #

    I should add that that flat tire occurred the day before Christmas, so I had no choice but to proceed with my shopping trip.

  209. Dolly July 4, 2011 at 2:22 am #

    I never said that I don’t expect every parent to have a moment where their kids lose it in public. I just said it should not be a regular thing. I also said that sometimes if your kid loses it, you need to finish what you are doing asap and book it out of there if you can’t calm your kid. I have seen parents literally just talking over their screaming child and doing nothing to deal with it or hurry up. At home if that is how they choose to deal with their child, great. But not going to work out in public. It is about consideration of others. I can usually tell when a mom is just having a bad day and when they don’t give a flip.

    For example, when I take the kids grocery shopping I have a list either written down or in my head. I quickly get what I need and then get checked out and out of there before they get bored or pissed off or hungry, etc. I bring snacks. I have a system where if they are good they get a small reward. It works. Some parents don’t seem to grasp that the days of slowly browsing the store can no longer happen. I have heard a child cry for over an hour at Walmart. So basically the child cried the entire time they were there. I worked in a grocery store as a cashier. I saw it daily. There is just no need for it and it was from the same customers so it was not a one time thing either. I had one family that would allow the boy to pull stuff off shelves every time they came in.

  210. kherbert July 4, 2011 at 3:23 am #

    There are also times were people choose to see a child as disruptive. I remember overhearing a person at a restaurant complain about those two blond kids that were running around.

    My older niece confirmed that the only kids she saw were her little sister and brother. My younger niece and nephew got out of their seats a grand total of 1 time to go to the bathroom. I think the complainer just couldn’t stand to see kids without a helicopter over them. (This was lunch at a family style restaurant.)

  211. Uly July 4, 2011 at 8:06 am #

    I can usually tell when a mom is just having a bad day and when they don’t give a flip.

    How? How can you tell? And how do you know that you are right? What do you do, interrogate them after to confirm your snap judgment?

  212. SKL July 4, 2011 at 8:15 am #


  213. Uly July 4, 2011 at 8:48 am #

    I remember overhearing a person at a restaurant complain about those two blond kids that were running around.

    Indeed, once I was on the bus, standing next to an irritating man who said, every time I told my nieces something, “Control your children”. Quite aside from the question as to wtf he thought I *was* doing with words such as “don’t poke your sister” and “stop wiggling*” and “no, you don’t get to sit backwards, there isn’t enough room on the bus today” – they were behaving pretty well! Not quite up to my standards, but if I hadn’t said anything to them, he would never have known.

    *because the two of them were sharing a seat and there wasn’t any room to spare for the fidgets.

  214. Dolly July 4, 2011 at 8:50 am #

    Uly: Does it matter? I form my opinion about the random person and their parenting. I never do anything about it so whether or not I think they are a good parent or right about it does not matter. The only thing they might notice is an angry look on my face or me putting my hands over my ears or trying to get away from them. I never say anything to anyone. I just try to get away from it.

    Let’s see…the grandparents and parents oohing and aahing as the child ran in circles around my parents squealing at Cracker Barrel and knocking into tables and knocking things over…..were the parents just have a bad day? Since they were all smiling and cooing and making zero attempt to have the child sit down or be quiet then I think it is fair to say they count as the type of parents and grandparents that just suck when it comes to making your kid behave in public and don’t even try or care to try.

    Or the parents of the little boy who always came into the grocery store I cashiered at who could have easily sent one parent out with the child to wait in the car yet instead they both let the boy knock items off the shelves and run around and yelp and this happened every time they came in. Were they just having a bad day or did they not care? Logic seems to tend to favor the they didn’t care outcome.

    I don’t get why you have to argue this??? Not all parents are stellar when it comes to this. By the law of odds there would have to be some that suck at it or just don’t care. Thus why those parents decided bringing a toddler to “Land of the Dead” a movie where zombies eat people alive would be a good choice. Because they are idiots. Even still I would have not cared if they removed the child the moment it started crying. No, instead they made the baby stay the whole movie and it cried off and on the whole movie. I am sure they probably act the same way every place they take their child. They obviously did not care if some places are appropriate for children and some are not. They obviously did not care what people thought about it or if their child is happy.

  215. Uly July 4, 2011 at 9:27 am #

    Dolly, it *does* matter if you then take a few bad incidents and form sweeping generalizations about the entire population, coming to the conclusion that if only more people were like you the world would be perfect.

  216. SKL July 4, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    To be fair, Dolly, you seem to be going back and forth between “don’t take your kids places that aren’t designed for kids’ enjoyment” and “take your kids wherever, just don’t let them aggravate others.”

    I agree there are some parents who think their child is so cute that everyone must appreciate every noise and move he makes. Or they assume that good parenting equals letting kids do what they want as long as nobody is killed or maimed in the process. (Or more accurately, as long as their precious isn’t hurt in the process.) These don’t tend to be parents who “don’t care” as much as parents who have put thought into it and really believe this is the best way. Thankfully there aren’t too many folks like that where I live.

    At the other end, there are parents who are so out of it that they don’t seem to have the mental resources to decide how to curb their child, other than to whip him (some will, some won’t). But again, I don’t see much of that around town.

    Mostly I see kids being kids and parents trying to teach them. The occasional parent who is obviously so tired that he doesn’t have the energy to deal with the situation properly. And the occasional kid who appears to have mental issues.

    My cousin is severely autistic, and his dad died when he was three. So his mom had to deal with a lot of crazy shit. Severely autistic kids are extremely strong, and they may hit even people they love if they are overstimulated. My aunt used to dread taking him across the street because he would often freak out in the middle of the road and lie down right there, kicking and screaming. She hired some babysitters but they abused him (physically and sexually) or simply could not deal with him. So unfortunately there were times when she had to take him to the store and simply deal with whatever. And she is the type of person who will laugh when the only other thing you can do is cry.

    Since severe autism is rare, and doesn’t involve an unusual appearance, pretty much everyone thought he was just a horrible brat and she was a shitty parent.

    So as much as I believe in teaching your kid IF he’s teachable, I try not to assume too much.

  217. KateNonymous July 4, 2011 at 11:16 am #

    “Or at the very least do your clothes shopping at Kmart, not an upscale boutique so that the ambieance of the classy store does not get ruined.”

    This statement is very classist.

    I guess mostly what I’ve learned from this thread is that, somewhere, somehow, Dolly is looking at us and judging us, and probably finding us wanting. Well, that’s fine. Better you share that here, Dolly, than that you come up to me and say it to my face.

  218. SKL July 4, 2011 at 12:09 pm #

    Kate, I enjoyed that comment too, but more for the idea that there is an “ambieance” that is gonna get spoiled by the mere presence of a child – and that I should take steps to preserve such “ambieance.”

  219. Dolly July 4, 2011 at 8:26 pm #

    No, the presence of a child does not ruin something. The presence of a child screaming, running around, yelling, crying ruins the atmosphere of a nice place. I don’t think that is snobby either. I mean think about it. If you go to Waffle House you don”t want to hear a screaming child but you might be more tolerant of it than if you went to a super fancy $100 a plate restaurant and heard a kid screaming.

    I have special needs kids as well so I understand they can be unpredictable. I still haul him out of there if he freaks out right away. Luckily mine only freaks out at home.

  220. Dolly July 4, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

    Kate: I don’t find all parents wanting, not at all. I see many kids being total angels in public and I smile at them and compliment their parents on having such sweet kids. If I see a sweet kid fussing a little I will try to smile at them and talk to them and distract them and sometimes it works. It is only the parents that don’t give a rat’s butt or are trying to help the situation when their kid is acting horrendous that get the judgement. So unless you are that kind of parent, you are just fine by me. So are you admitting you are that kind of parent then?

  221. Dolly July 4, 2011 at 8:31 pm #

    Ps go check out a manners board or put bad kids in public into Google and you will see that my opinion is with the majority of the public.

  222. Beth July 4, 2011 at 9:46 pm #

    Of course it is, Dolly; of course it is. If you find this board so full of minority opinions, maybe you should find another one to post on.

  223. SKL July 4, 2011 at 10:50 pm #

    Dolly, your kids are 4 and, as far as I could tell from your previous comments, not “severely” compromised. Imagine your child at age 6 or 8, several times stronger, and far more intolerant / irrational. And imagine you would never go out with him unless you really had to, so there you are on a necessary shopping trip and your kid has a meltdown. And you know that if you leave and come back another time, he’s just going to melt down all over again. I just don’t think you’re really putting yourself in others’ shoes. Autism (like some other problems) isn’t learned and it can’t be unlearned via normal discipline tactics.

    Like Uly said, nobody here thinks that screaming kids in public is a good thing. Nobody here wants their kid acting that way. But we all have different ways of trying to avoid it. Your suggestion that people just keep their kids away from “nice places” may be appropriate for some kids at some ages, but not for all. You do come across as if you think your way is the best way for everyone, just because it seems to be working for you.

    For example, you would judge me for taking my 4yos to live (grown-up) theatre, because you would assume they wouldn’t act at least as well as the adults around them, or that they wouldn’t enjoy it – and you’d be wrong.

    Also, I’d venture a guess that you would not approve of the method I used to teach my 1yo not to get noisy at a restaurant. (I took her to the restroom and covered her mouth/nose, momentarily impeding her breath, while reading her the riot act. I’d read that this was a Native American trick to teach infants not to cry.) It worked for me, but you don’t see me telling everyone else here that they ought to do it, and judging them if they don’t.

    Oh, and I do not think it’s acceptable for a kid to act like a hellion anywhere. It is gonna happen, but when it does, the only parents who get a pass for not stopping it are those with special needs kids or whose kids are having an extremely off day. And in my opinion, it doesn’t matter whether you’re in an “upscale, classy” place or a Kmart. My headache doesn’t somehow hurt less if I’m buying my cheap shampoo versus a gift for someone with fancy tastes.

  224. Uly July 5, 2011 at 12:02 am #

    It is gonna happen, but when it does, the only parents who get a pass for not stopping it are those with special needs kids or whose kids are having an extremely off day.

    Of course, as you know (and Dolly may or may not know) you don’t know in advance which kids are which. Not usually. Even in the examples I gave where I’m *not* going to get off the bus (out of the checkout line, whatever), the fact is that unless there’s a really really good reason I’m going to forgive them, as soon as we’re home, the nieces would hear about how wrong their behavior was and all the things they’re not going to get to do for quite a while. So would their parents.

    But good reasons might not be visible. Say we’re on the bus late at night headed to the doctor and the kid is miserably ill. (I’m assuming we have no cash in the house, because otherwise we’d take car service. I mean, seriously.) You might not be able to tell that we have a really good reason for being on the bus, and that the crying kid didn’t get to sleep all night because her sister was… I don’t know, just generally being sick. (Admittedly this one is a stretch, but it *could* happen.) There are any number of possible scenarios, and most of them wouldn’t be visible to the most prying observer.

  225. SKL July 5, 2011 at 12:08 am #

    Uly, like I said before, I tend to give the benefit of the doubt if I see a kid act up, unless I know the kid.

    But that doesn’t stop me from having an opinion regarding what parents should normally tolerate from a typical child. An opinion does not equal a judgment of a particular individual.

    I don’t make faces at strangers who have bratty kids. I just get the heck away from them before I get a headache.

  226. Uly July 5, 2011 at 12:36 am #

    I don’t make faces at strangers who have bratty kids. I just get the heck away from them before I get a headache.

    Reasonable. (And for that matter, I don’t particularly care if you *do* judge people. Whatever. Unless you’re really really annoying about it. But I have *got* to clean my house now.)

  227. Dee July 5, 2011 at 11:50 pm #

    “I see many kids being total angels in public and I smile at them and compliment their parents on having such sweet kids”

    And sometimes the angel can be turn into the devil when the situation is right. I had to fly back to the US from the UK with my 4-year-old, on a morning flight. (Unfortunately, the only option in our case.) When we were waiting to board and boarding, and the first 4-5 hours of the flight, he was perfectly well behaved, sat in his seat, played with his toys. Several people complemented me on his behavior.

    We hit hour 5 and some switched flipped, then he had a screaming breakdown. Basically all I could do was hold him in a bear hug while he kicked and scratched and thank god that the seat next to him was empty. He did that for about 10 minutes, then collapsed asleep and slept for the remainder of the flight.

  228. Beth July 6, 2011 at 12:08 am #

    I want to live in the world (referenced above) where clothes shopping, for either adults or children, is not a necessity!

  229. KateNonymous July 6, 2011 at 5:12 am #

    “I see many kids being total angels in public and I smile at them and compliment their parents on having such sweet kids. If I see a sweet kid fussing a little I will try to smile at them and talk to them and distract them and sometimes it works. It is only the parents that don’t give a rat’s butt or are trying to help the situation when their kid is acting horrendous that get the judgement. So unless you are that kind of parent, you are just fine by me. So are you admitting you are that kind of parent then?”

    You see a moment in time, either way, and judge someone’s entire parenting ability on that moment. So it doesn’t matter whether someone’s child is being quiet or loud, you’re making sweeping generalizations based on extremely limited data–a single encounter.

    How do you know that “total angel” isn’t going to go on a rampage in ten minutes? You don’t, because you and they have moved on. You have no idea how that child is behaving outside of the moment.

    I, too, have complimented parents on their children’s good behavior. And without exception, the response has been something along the lines of “Thank you. I wish he/she were always this well-behaved.”

    So when you say “Are you admitting that you are that kind of parent then?”, you really want to know which snap judgment you can apply to me. And my answer is: Either one. At some points my child will misbehave, and at others she will behave. She’s a child, and a whole person, with ups and downs like the rest of us.

    Judge away, Dolly, in whatever direction you choose. Either way, it limits you much more than it does me.

  230. Val Joiner July 6, 2011 at 10:33 pm #

    I don’t know if someone else mentioned this (there are a lot of comments here!) but it isn’t just safety products we’re obsessed with. We’re just obsessed with products…a pill to lose weight, a special appliance to help cook, a chemical to help clean, a gadget to do this-that-or-the-other, etc….anything that we think will help make our lives easier or more convenient. Unfortunately in many cases we end up making things more complicated.

  231. Jenn July 7, 2011 at 10:22 am #

    I would rather see a toddler walking and wearing a leash (supposedly being treated like an animal) than sitting in a stroller (promoting an inactive lifestyle). I see five year olds being brought to school in a stroller which is beyond ridiculous considering in our district, kids receive busing if they live 2.7 km away from the school or have to cross a busy intersection. I took my son out of his stroller after his second birthday because I was expecting a second baby and didn’t want to fork out the cash for a double stroller. I figured that he could walk and I could always use a leash if he became a runner (which he did and chasing a 2 year old while 9 months pregnant is not my idea of fun). I made my daughter at two, walk the entire day at Disney as I didn’t want to have to navigate the crowds with a stroller (she got a ride on Daddy’s shoulders at one point). People kept saying how amazing it was that she wasn’t tired.

  232. Uly July 7, 2011 at 11:30 am #

    2.7 km? That’s an odd number. Is it translated from miles?

  233. MimiR July 17, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

    My 2yo sleep walks–well, she has night terrors and then tries to run away from home in her sleep. Purchases were made, and I don’t regret them!

    She also wandered off when she was barely 2 while Dad was watching her, so we took precautions then, too! You can explain to a wandering-off 2-y-o, but the consequences of her making that mistake again aren’t really ones she understands. So teaching her not to take off is something she’s learned (when awake) after 6 months, but the purchases kept her safe until then.

  234. MimiR July 17, 2011 at 8:25 pm #

    @Dolly–If you have low-key, laid-back children, you may, in fact, never have a child have a meltdown in public. If you have extremely high strung children, it takes a great deal of investment of time and effort to get them trained to behave appropriately. I’ve had one who loved being out and about–and one who was very high-maintenance. Now they both have excellent behavior, but it took a while with one, and I left more than one store with her screaming under my arm.

    And it’s nice that you spend ridiculous amounts of money on clothing that you apparently don’t need to try on, but I bargain shop, so I buy no clothes online. I pay $4 on average for my tops, $3 on average for my kids’ tops, $10 for my pants, and up to $8 for theirs, which are not prices that you can find for nice clothes online. I rarely have my kids out clothes shopping with me because I do have the luxury of leaving them at home and I prefer whirlwind trips to Kohl’s or Macy’s, but other people don’t have that option.

    @Island Jenny–“The other problem, KateNonymous, is parents who don’t seem to understand that their kids wouldn’t be running around the restaurant screaming if they were rested, fed a little beforehand, not given sugar, and provided with something to do at their seats.”

    Um, yeaaaaaah…. First of all, a non-disabled child four or over who is causing a fuss is just poorly raised. I don’t care how tired or cranky you are–by that age, you should behave. Second, at NO age should the child be “running around…and screaming.” Third, if you have to give your kids rest, fed to behave BEFORE a meal, given a special diet (not the sugar myth again…), and given special entertainment to bribe them to behave, they haven’t been properly socialized, either.

    It took 6 months of us carefully choosing only choosing restaurants that served bread or chips when you sat down and going at times when the place was nearly empty before we got our youngest to fully behave. But that was between 12 and 18 months of age. By 2, we could take her anywhere and have a 95% chance of perfect behavior. It took a lot of work, but the results were permanent. And now at 2.5, she loves going to a “retraunt,” as she calls it, and chatting with the servers and choosing her food and drink.

    She still has her moments in public, though they can usually be smoothed over quickly. But if you catch her on a really, really bad day at a really bad moment, she would not be “running and screaming” yet she might even pitch a brief fit on the floor in the grocery store. Like I said, she’s my high maintenance one. But by three, that’ll mostly be a memory, and the comments about her politeness will not just be the norm but will be the only thing I hear from strangers.

  235. MimiR July 17, 2011 at 8:47 pm #

    “(I took her to the restroom and covered her mouth/nose, momentarily impeding her breath, while reading her the riot act. I’d read that this was a Native American trick to teach infants not to cry.)”

    My DH tried that. My DD learned to cry very loudly with her mouth closed. It was a kind of hum-cry.

    Two examples:

    The parents I can’t stand are those who nag at their kids or verbally badger them while the kids blow them off. There were three kids of one mother, and the mother was as whiny and obnoxious as the children: “Why are you always so bad when I take you out? Why don’t you every behave? Stop that! Stop this!” as the kids did whatever they felt like. In that case, it was pretty obviously just plain bad parenting, as the children were clearly completely used to ignoring their mother and behaving as beastly as they pleased.

    Then there was a father whom I saw in Pittsburgh at the science museum with a three-year-old who was crying every. time. we passed by. The father was always carrying him from one area to another, with a red-faced, yelling kid under his arm. In that case, I didn’t blame him a bit. Maybe the kid just was a brat. Maybe, though, he was having a really bad day, or he was getting overtired and having to go to a corner to recharge, or he was a delicate first child who couldn’t handle the fuss. The father wasn’t bewailing his condition, the kid wasn’t biting or scratching or kicking, and the father wasn’t berating him as the kid ignored him. It just looked like a kid thing–an unpleasant kid thing, but a kid thing. Kids cry sometimes. They just do. And sometimes, it’s not practical to completely cancel an activity because they aren’t as well behaved as you want them to be.

    We had an outing like that–the first one in a long time. We went to Ft. McHenry, and DD was an angel for the first 30 minutes, and then she noticed the ocean and would have NOTHING to do with the rest of the fort. I got her to stop actually pitching a fit within two minutes, but she kept up a miserable whine like a deflating balloon for most of the rest of the trip. We didn’t get glares, though, but chuckles and the occasional sympathetic look. (Chuckles mainly for my assuring her that various rooms were for storing unpleasant babies. She was not impressed with this in the least. And for nudging her along so that I at least got grudging obedience rather than defiance or a fit–a lot of fast talking went into that, mostly rewarded with petulant, unconvinced glares but, thank goodness, no actual crying.) We cut our visit a little short, but we didn’t turn around just because she was being difficult, though we stayed away from others as much as possible.

    Since we escaped without a single dirty look and more knowing grins than I can count, I figure we didn’t negatively impact anyone’s trip too much.

  236. Maricruz Villalobos Zamora August 10, 2011 at 8:00 am #

    Interestingly this reminds me of the Fairy Odd Parents Musical. Wasn’t it about letting kids being kids and not worry too much?