Feedback Friday - Pet Children

I had something else planned for today until The Constant Complainer set this in my lap. I felt compelled to address an issue that has bothered me from the moment I became aware of it.

Let's go back to 2006...(cue the flashback harp music)...

The Big Guy had a conference scheduled in Anaheim, California and asked if we'd like to tag along. He would be busy all day in classes and seminars, but if I was up for the challenge, he would buy us all tickets to Disneyland. I thought about it for about 2.4 seconds, then responded "What time is our flight?!?"

My boys were 7, 5, and 4 years old at the time. I spent a lot of time planning and preparing for this trip (full blown vacation nazi). I purchased 3 matching baseball hats in a bright color for the kids, matching shirts, matching shorts, matching sweatshirts...you get the picture. I wanted to make this as easy as possible since I was doing this alone.

I prepared the kids ahead of time, I explained how important it was to stick together and stay with me at all times. I threatened lovingly explained to them that if there is any funny business or wandering off we would leave. The boys listened because in the past if I warned them about leaving, I WOULD ACTUALLY LEAVE (consequences people).

I wrote down my cell phone number and placed it in their pockets, pointed out Disney security and explained what they should do if they found themselves lost, and we headed out.

As we stood in line to enter the park (3 small children + 1 mom), I noticed a group of adults standing near us (6 adults) they all were talking and laughing. I noticed one of the women absentmindedly held onto a leash restraining a child about 3 years old. They all chatted and were having a fun time as they moved through the line, not really paying attention to the child.

As the line began to move, the child tripped and fell. The mother holding the leash never looked back, but must have assumed the child was resisting walking along, because she continued walking and pulling the leash behind her. The child was dragged along, scraping his forehead on the (concrete) ground, struggling to get back up, for about 5 feet when a very loud woman (who sounded a lot like me) screamed "STOP! For God's sake woman, look at your baby!" (blush).

She then stopped and made a big fuss over the child. I couldn't even look at her as I gathered my children together and hugged them, shaking with anger. This incident verified everything I've ever felt about "Pet Children".

My friend passed along the following video last night and I knew it was something I needed to address. Behold:

Thoughts, comments, questions, feelings?



  1. While I watch that video and read your personal experience in disgust, I have to defend the "leash", as I used one when Ray was rather small and learning to navigate outside the house on his own. Now, I NEVER led him, dragged him, or used it as one would use a pet leash. I used it while I held his hand, so as to still have him if his hand should slip from mine in a crowd. When in airports on my own, with a carryon, car seat, and a 2 year old, the lead came in handy.

    While I don't in any way condone what the woman in those to scenarios did, I don't blame the leash. I blame the parents. The leash does not make a parent irresponsible. That comes naturally.

  2. agreed with krisandchris. Those women don't deserve to be called mothers. BUT. My aunt thought that is was appropriate to put ME on one as a 7 or 8 year old because we were walking in a beautiful natural bluff area with waterfall and such, and she was afraid I would 'fall'. she used it like a leash. and it was humiliating.

  3. Why do these people even have kids?

  4. I have never seen anyone inappropriately (harming) their child while they use the "leash" but I have always looked at the children and felt sorry for them. I would never use one on my children. There's just something not right about it.

  5. i just can't like the leash. the woman in the verizon store (and at disney world, for that matter) could have been using a stroller. i have never considered using the leash, and i have five kids. on a slight aside...they now have things called "safety tats" that are printed with your phone number in case your children get lost. awewsome idea.

  6. I still can't believe that video. I read that the mom was charged with cruelty to children and is currently facing up to 30 years in prison for that incident.

    Jen, your story was amazing too - definitely a tremendous example of the hazards of leashes on children.

    I'm sure there people out there that could argue why using them is beneficial. I don't agree, but everyone is entitled to their opinion. Even like krisandchrisplaques said, people might consider it the best option for their situation at the time.

    But even before I was a parent, I couldn't help but to shake my head when I saw parents walking (usually at Kennywood) with their little ones on a leash. It has never sat right with me. But like has been echoed here, in most cases, I'd say it's bad parenting vs. arguing for or against a leash.

  7. I can understand krisandchris for using one.

    In principle, the leashes bother me because those parents would rather buy a tool than actually take responsibility for raising their kids. "Consequences, people!"

    (Unless of course, the child has a neurological problem.)

  8. Wow! That video was in fact disturbing to the point of wanting to call Child Services.

    At the same time, I will say that I do in fact us a "Monkey" backpack style leash wiht my two year old on occasion. Do I drag my child around or pull her until she comes? Absolutely not! Does it allow me to give my child who wants to have a bit of freedom some breathing room and walk without having to feel constricted? Yes.

    My middle daughter, for example races go karts one night a week. We are talking about a go kart track with lots of people, lots of fast moving Karts with a low center of gravity and a two year old who has no qualms about running out in front of "traffic". That "leash" allows me to let her walk around without a stroller, and feel a part of the action with out being set free to raise Cane.

    The devices were designed to keep our kids safe, but have a bit of freedom. If a PARENT or adult chooses to mistreat their child, they will find a way. Being a negligent parent has nothing to do with the leash. It has to do with who you as a caregiver are.

    Great topic. I'm really interested to hear what everyone has to say about this one.


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  10. Have to admit I never ever even considered using a leash, EVEN when I had 4 children under the age of 5 (that was 5 years ago, they are older now). My mom would suggest using a leash on my "wild one" and I said I would never put my child on a leash like a dog. We witnessed a small boy about 5 at the zoo last week being pulled on a leash. Even his older brother was in on it. The mom looked miserable as did the boy. Sorry folks, I just can't see the need to use a leash. Not on a human at least.

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  12. I see that this Friday topic has hit a nerve. Let's keep up the comments and hash this out.

    I love to hear opinions that agree and disagree with what I feel; it's how we learn and grow.

    There have been so valid points, is a leash a protective measure? Have you seen this in your experience?

    Was the lady in the Verizon store at her wits end or just a poor parent?

  13. So many valid points, I meant to say :)

  14. This is going to come off all wrong I'm sure, but I'm saying it anyway. Just because you CAN breed, doesn't necessarily mean that you SHOULD. Sometimes I just want to stand up top of a table in a very public place with a megaphone and scream "Please, please, PLEASE people, don't start popping off children unless you're willing to put the effort into raising them properly!" It sounds harsh, but the reason I feel so strongly about this is because I absolutely love kids, and it breaks my heart to see them treated like they are a burden, or a pet. That's just my 2 pennies.

  15. Hi there! Thanks for the visit. :)

    I have never used a leash/harnessy thing for my kids, but I have been TEMPTED to. I even bought one just in case and stuck it in the diaper bag when my oldest was around 15 months old.

    She is still the most strong-willed child I've ever met. As a small toddler, she would whine and twist and escape from the stroller, refused to hold my hand and walk, and always always wanted to RUN away from me. I never did use the leashy thing, but there were times I wanted to.

    The only reason I might ever use one would be if we were in a very crowded place like the airport and I want to make sure no one would grab one of my girls.

    I always feel bad for the kids I see on leashes...

  16. Marcie, I thought your comment was interesting and I decided to respond directly to it.

    First, I completely disagree with pretty much everything you said...

    Second, sure as a parent, I have been upset and/or lost my cool, but never to the tune of dragging my kid on the floor across a store. My instance was maybe raising my voice. I mean, come on, of course we can judge that woman. Basically, what I got from your post was that you might have been close to an adverse reaction at one point or another (much like the woman we saw in the Verizon video). We can judge and we will judge, because most of us are normal parents who of course get stressed, but handle it in much better ways.

    I think it is fair for us to question if that woman should be a mother or not. I've said for years that some kids never have a chance in life (meaning they will not succeed) due 100% to their parents and their parental upbringing. It's a sad thing to say, but true nonetheless.

    I'm not trying to give you a hard time, but I'd encourage you to be more of a realist.

    Ladies, this is a great topic and I'm enjoying the comments and discussion.

  17. Proverbs 22:6
    Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

    So we should teach our children that it is right to do what this mother did? I don't think so.

  18. In response to Marcie, I am a very non-judgmental person. I accept any and every lifestyle, as long as it does not harm another human being. Dragging your child across a floor is a damaging and completely uncivilized way of dealing with bad behavior. There is a huge difference between an innocent lapse of parental reasoning and straight up child abuse. Am I judging her soul and claiming that this woman will without a doubt burn in hell? Lord no, that's not for me to decide. I do, however, believe that anyone who would even think of treating their child that way is a rather craptastic parent.

  19. I am pro-safety. Daughter #2 just moved to Germany with our 19 month old grandson, joining her husband who is already there. She bought a leash so that she could keep tabs on the baby and still allow him to walk (burn energy between flights where he's confined to a seat) while navigating Dulles, and then 3 European airports. My daughter who was slinging 2 bags and a baby couldn't use a stroller (not considered carry on). I feel completely supportive of her decision to use one. I agree with Kris and Chris, don't blame the leash... blame the parents.

  20. The woman in the video should be attached to a leash and dragged around. I have to say that I used one with my youngest on occasion but I paid attention to him (unlike the woman you encountered at Disneyland)
    For responsible parents, they do work. For irresponsible parents, the children get injured. Its a shame.
    Wishing you a scent-sational day!

  21. kris is right leashes are not the problem- people are! but, i would never use one ,it does look humiliating for the child and that's just a lazy parent that needs a leash. i mean really people teach your kids how to stay w/ you ,hold their hand put them before your urgent need to leave a store or drag them thru it because you don't want to make the child obey! lazy, lazy,lazy! i hope that lady in verizon got a visit from cps!

  22. I have to say that my heart TOTALLY sinks every time I see a child on a leash, although I have never had kids who were inclined to just run away from me. I guess I can understand it with very small children in a crowded place, but by the time the child is 4 or 5, they should be able to understand the dangers of running away and it is our responsibility as parents to teach them about those dangers (and again consequences if the rules are not obeyed!). When faced with a child having a tantrum in the middle of the store, I would recommend the "football hold" to carry them out, and looking straight ahead so as not to see all the other customers staring at you! At least the child would not have brush burns over half his body from dragging him over a carpet!! Unacceptable!!

  23. Well, I have kind of 2 different opinions on the matter. I fully believe in parenting to stop children from misbehaving... as in grocery store behavior, and so on. My SIL ALWAYS uses a leash at the grocery store as a means of controlling my niece. I hate that. It bothers me because my SIL doesn't want to discipline her so she leashes her because "otherwise she gets into stuff and pulls it down". In that case I think she needs to work with her, just like I do with my 18 year old, until she listens. Or she will never learn.

    HOWEVER, a leash definitely has it's place. I don't care if you color coordinate your kids. I don't care if you point out security and place your phone number in their pocket. That still won't help anything if someone decides to abduct your child. And that won't help a 4,5,6 year old to not get freaked out if Mommy is gone and he can't spot a security guy, and he isn't supposed to talk to strangers. Especially at a place like Disney. Especially if you have more than one child. It isn't a matter of making your kids "Pets" as it is keeping them safe, by having them with you. If one of my children were to fall and get hurt and i needed to bandage something, kiss an owie, or soothe that child, I would need to know that in someplace like Disney or a crowded fair full of eye candy that my kids were right next to me. Kids that young don't all have the discernment to think "Oh Mickey! Hey, I better stay by Mommy for a while". Crowded places like that are full of distractions for both parents and children... I think that a "leash" is a suitable tool until kids are truly old enough to understand that they can't run off and chase that balloon just because it looks cool. Kids have an uncanny sense of telling when Mom is slightly distracted. I think of the "leash" as something along the lines of time outs, or toys being taken away for naughty behavior. Something to help teach your kids until they learn to follow along and stay by you. Then when they do stay right where you can see them it isn't necessary and that tool is done with...

    Now, I hope you know that if this post sounds sarcastic, rude, or generally obnoxious that i didn't mean it that way. I am not saying you are wrong, I am simply stating my opinion of the situation. If it comes out sounding different than I mean(a simple statement) then i apologize, because I love your blog and am not intending to harass you or belittle your opinions, or anyone else's. Whew. What a disclaimer. :D

  24. I haven't read any of the comments yet, but I'm sure there are some strong opinions.

    I had a "pet child" for a few years. My daughter, from about 2-4, had to wear a harness (what you might call a leash) in big crowds.

    I never put it on her in stores, or any other place like that. We used it at parades, festivals, and Disneyland.

    My daughter has run out of stores, run into the street, run through parking lots, run everywhere. If she saw a dog, a cat, or a bird, she was gone. Sometimes she just ran to run...no motivation needed.

    I am the most attentive and careful mom you will ever meet, and she still shook me off. Holding her hand was NOT enough to keep her safe.

    I got plenty of looks and a few comments, but did I care? Not a bit. As a mother to a completely wild child, my job was to simply keep her alive and safe until she matured enough to get some common sense.

    Even now, I sometimes use a "leash", but just to help her feel secure. It's actually a detachable handle to a little suitcase she has. We clip it to her pants and I hold the handle. She will request it if she's feeling overwhelmed in a large crowd.

    Anyone who uses a harness/leash so they can be lazy and not watch their child is wrong. But I hope everyone can understand that some children need that extra measure to be safe. And please keep in mind those parents dealing with special needs kids. Not every child is capable of listening to directions and staying close to their parents.

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  26. While I think the woman in the video has more going on than just the use of a leash, I'm opposed to child harnessing. I agree with your method of verbal communication and it has worked quite well with my children who were raised in NYC amongst the constant bustle of crowded shopping areas, parks and streets. Harnessing toddlers is like chastity belts in lieu of sex education; they provide a false, heightened sense of safety/security.

  27. my girlsfriend sent me this link.
    first of all....ive never used a leash..butI truly believe that this child was probably pushing his mom over the edge and was a total brat at that time.....leaving her to drag the child.
    I would do the same.

  28. I'm loving the passion that this debate has brought out in all of you. As for me taking offense by any of your opinions...please don't worry. If I didn't want to learn and grow by hearing what someone other than I thought, I wouldn't have brought it up.

    I do agree with the commenter that mentioned special needs children. This does not apply to the lady in the store; nothing excuses that behavior, God knows I've been driven to the brink by my kids, but part of being a parent is being able to rein in those feelings and do the right thing. If a child has autism, for example, impulse control might be impaired, making a restraint necessary.

    Please feel free to voice whatever you feel, this little blog is far from controversial, but this topic has hit a nerve. I want you all to be able to say what you feel with no apologies.

  29. Wowza......I'm speechless!!!! You just have to wonder what affect this all has on the child once they become older!!

  30. Personally I don't agree with having your child as a pet either. I have also taught my child if you don't behave we'll leave and have followed through and done so no matter what the consequences were for him or I!!
    I do believe though that this woman falls into the same category as those people that put the dog, bunny, or mouse hats on their young children. When you get old and are in a nursing home watch out for the paybacks from your child. He will keep that silly hat and put it on you and take pictures of you!!
    I only hope that one day this woman's child will turn around and harness her then drag her through a store the same way!!
    BEWARE---paybacks are a b---h!!!

  31. I just wanted to add---I think the scariest thing about the video is that nobody else in the store did ANYTHING!!! They all just watched as this woman drug her young child from one end of the store to the other!!!

  32. As a mom of 3 small children, I have learned that it is important to treat other parents with compassion and empathy - always being willing to learn and listen before judging harshly. Whether or not you would use a leash is not so much the issue to me here (btw, I don't and wouldn't) but our quickness to so harshly condemn another parent after observing them so briefly. We have ALL had parenting moments that have not been great - what if someone observed that moment in complete isolation, with no knowledge of who you were or how you were doing as a parent?
    Observing this women in this moment I would definitely say she was not making a good choice as to how to deal with whatever the situation was. BUT, I don't know what has happened in her day, or in her life. I don't know what kind of support system she does, or doesn't have. She may be so at her wits end, completely despairing at how to handle her child. The answers to these questions don't make her choice a good one, but it does change my attitude toward her and opens me up to help instead of condemn.
    Can we agree to give people a listening ear and committment to real support as a way to bring change, instead of shaming, and judging without love?
    One of the hardest things I have experienced as a parent is both what internal guilt and struggle I sometimes have with how I'm doing as a parent, AND the harshness with which others (especially other moms) can so quickly and viciously heap that shame and judgement on others.

  33. That was so insane. I'm glad she was punished.

  34. jeez louise, that disgusts me. I do have to agree that the leash isn't the issue, though. I have a little harness leash thingy for my daughter, but it's not to force her to come along with me. She still holds my hand as we walk along. It's so that if we're in a busy airport and somebody tries to grab her and take off, they can't get anywhere. Or if I need both hands to examine something in a store, I know she won't be able to wander far if something catches her eye. I don't consider it a leash, I consider it a harness. I only use it when we're going somewhere busy so I know my two-year-old won't be swept away in an instant if she decides she wants to go 'that way'.
    Hers looks like a cute little fuzzy unicorn backpack and she loves her 'pony packpack'. Simply for the fact, I'm sure, that she's never experienced it as a leash either.

    depends on the kid too, though. my SIL tried using one on her son for the same reason and he dropped on all fours and barked like a dog. she was so embarassed that she immediatly removed it and put him back in the cart. But I've never called it a leash to my daughter, either. It's a backpack, and it happens to have a safety mechanism built in.

    I've never had anyone comment on me and my daughter when using it in any way but 'awww, how cute is she.'
    It's a miracle we have her in the first place. If I feel the need to be overprotective and put in the extra line of defense, I don't think anyone can criticize me. But I think that's the critical differece right there - whether you're using it as an extra line of defense, or as a tool to keep your child in line.

    (besides, my girl was walking at seven months, try giving a seven month old a talk about staying close to mommy and see how far that gets you. LOL.)

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  36. Thanks for commenting on my "Pet Children" post this morning. It's so funny how everyone, those for and against child restraints, missed the point of my post.

    My post concerned the 6 adults and one child using a leash and the woman in Verizon. Listen, I'm a mom and I know how hard it can be, but those two examples really did exemplify lazy parenting.

    The people at Disney were having too much fun with their friends to pay attention to their child and the lady at Verizon stepped (leaped) over the line. I never intended for my opinion of these two cases to be a broad condemnation of child leashes/restraints/backpacks, even though they aren't right for my family.

    If your methods work for you without harming a child, then I support your choices :)

  37. I wasn't referring to your post, I was referring to some comments that simply overgeneralized that parents who use leashes are lazy, simple as that. I did take out the second comment though, b/c it dealt with my frustration over that overgeneralization and not with the topic itself. :)

    Your post doesn't bother me in the least, and I like your blog as well.

  38. My children are not a pets and anyone who assumes that when they see a child in a harness is being judgemental. I am not lazy, nor am I a bad parent, I am keeping my child safe. Has it ever occured to any of you that some people don't have enough money to have more than one stroller or a double stroller when they have multiple kids.

    My two older boys are sixteen months apart, when the oldest was two we went to the zoo, having only one stroller I opted for a harness instead of trying to carry or chase him the whole time and he loved it. He held my hand and walk politely beside me the whole time, because he knew that he had a boundry.

    My daughter is a bolter, she thinks its funny to run, have we had talks about it, yes we have, she fully understands as much as any two year old would that she needs to stay by mommy, but she chooses not to, so she rides in the cart or she wears a harness. She doesn't like the harness so she rides in the cart(I don't make her wear it). She has left the store many times("consequences") because she won't stay in the cart or next to me.

    I don't think dragging your kid across the floor is "keeping your child safe" but its good to know that some of you are perfect parents and have never had a melt down, in public or private and have perfect kids that stay put all the time.

    How many of us would end up with criminal charges because we have a laspe in judgement in private rather than a public place? How many of us have spoken harsher than we would have liked(even screamed) or grabbed our children harder than we intended when a situation is intense?

    The harness isn't the problem, the lack of proper parenting skills is(some people sipmly lack the proper parenting skills and don't know how to get them, this doesn't mean they are bad people, simply uninformed). Would the backlash be against jackets with hoods had he not been wearing a harness, but dragged by the hood on his jacket across the floor?

    You know what bugs me more, when parents walk ahead of their toddlers(pushing the stoller talking to a friend) by thirty feet and occasionally look back to make sure that they are still there, witnessed this countless times at the Mall of America, State Fair, and other majorly crowded places where children could be snatched in a heartbeat.

  39. I absolutely hate the leashes....under any circumstance. I have quads and managed to take them out in public by myself without putting them on a leash. I'm not some kind of 'super' person. It's easy enough to keep an eye on your kids and make them the priority when you're out. And, we too have left a place because they pushed the rules too far. Like you said, consequences. My kids are better people now because of it.


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