When my nephew was 3, my sister-in-law—who lives in the Atlanta suburbs—made the decision to put him on a leash for a weekend visit to New York City. I didn't really get it at first. My own kids LOVED our trips to the concrete jungle and would never think about running off. But my nephew had never been to NYC before and was frightened by the crowds. Plus, he was somewhat of a curious kid, quick to run off in any direction when given the chance. It only takes a second to lose your kid in a crowd. So if a leash was the insurance policy my sister-in-law needed to keep him safe, I eventually concluded, so be it.
Oregon dad Clint Edwards felt the same way when he put his 3-year-old daughter Aspen on a leash for a visit to a local farmer's market last week. And despite getting dirty looks from strangers, he says he'd do it all over again.
"No shame. I put this kid on a leash," he wrote in a now-viral Facebook post. "She's a wild child, and this thing has already kept her out of the road and from sticking her hand in an ice cream machine, along with keeping me sane."
"The real difficulty with having a wild child is that you are damned if you do, and damned if you don't," Edwards continued. "Because the fact is, if I didn't put Aspen on a leash while at amusement parks, the zoo, a crowded mall, or the farmers market, she'd be the lost child announced over the intercom. She'd be the kid popping up in every Facebook feed for wandering into a shopping center parking lot, unattended. She could be the child climbing into the tiger cage. Because I can't, for the life of me, keep her from moving."
I applaud Edwards for his honesty. And he's so right—parents are judged every single day for letting their kids roam free in restaurants, or for losing track of them in places like amusements parks, zoos, and piers. So if using a leash—or a "love line" as one Facebook commenter so brilliantly put it—is what it takes to keep your spirited little girl out of danger, we say go for it. Safety never takes a holiday, so the question really shouldn't be "Why would you put your child on a leash," but "Why wouldn't you"?