My children, Rex and Lassie

By Michael

Okay, I have to say it. I hate to see children on leashes.

Jill and I went with a friends on an Alaska cruise a few weeks ago and it was nice to be among the youngest people in a community again. Apparently, people go to Alaska at about the time they are unable to walk the trails or climb the hills or hear the waterfalls.

There was one extended family on the voyage that caught my attention and, being trapped on the ship with them for seven days, they also tested my resolve never, ever, ever to tell someone else my opinion about raising children.

However, I’m back behind my anonymous keyboard now and I still want to let loose on this topic. Children should not be on leashes. Parents should hold their hands, carry them or let them wander within eyeshot.

Leashes don’t protect the children, because they give parents an excuse to pay no attention. If the child is in bonds, there’s no need to watch what he/she’s doing. As long as I can yank on the choker and say bad girl if she tries to go too far, my little darling is safe.

When we had a dog, I didn’t keep him on the leash most of the time. He was well trained, sat when we got to a curb, sat when cyclists walked by and came when I called him. The leash was unnecessary and overly restrictive.

And the dog’s leash was 25 feet long. Leashes for children are about six feet, which is so restrictive we might as well keep them in knapsacks. I’m sure somebody will say the leashes give the children a chance to explore while allowing parents to keep them safe. Trust me on this, though. There’s nothing to explore within six feet of anything.

And we were on a ship. What, exactly, was so dangerous that the child wasn’t exposed to at home? It’s not like we were all walking through the engine room. Or, maybe, the parents put the child in restraints every morning at home, as well.

Good morning, pumpkin. Let’s put away your blankie and get you all harnessed up. Oops, this is Fluffy’s leash. Wherever did I put yours?


Michael Rosenbaum is 5 Minutes for Parenting’s first dadblogger. He is a business consultant, playwright and author of Your Name Here: Guide to Life.

Michael blogs on life issues at Your Name Here Guide to Life and manages the Adult Conversation discussion group on Linked-In.

11 Responses to My children, Rex and Lassie
  1. Krista
    September 7, 2010 | 1:14 am

    Yes, well, apparently you’ve never had a child that you could let go of for 3 seconds and have completely disappear. My dad made a “leash” for my brother when we went to the ’86 World’s Fair in Vancouver. He was 4 and probably could have outrun my parents then (he’s a heli ski guide and wildland fire fighter now).
    My son is taking after him. At 18 months we took him to Yellowstone. He hated being carried yet didn’t understand the dangers of the hot water. I’d rather my child on a “leash” which he actually loved, than dead, thank you very much.

  2. Mozi Esmes Mom
    September 7, 2010 | 9:00 am

    I agreed with you until I had a kid!

    We of course one of those “fun” leashes that was actually a monkey backpack we could hook into. And it was used very rarely – specifically when we were in airports on an international journey. When you’re at the point of passing out, but your kid is NOT, having something you can hang on to while they get the jiggles out is not a bad idea…

  3. Karin Whitman
    September 7, 2010 | 1:36 pm

    Though I have never put my son on a leash, I have come very close, and have stared longingly at those monkey backpacks in Target, weighing the very deep philosophical dilemma of leashing. I know you mean well, Michael, but you have daughters, and though there are girls out there who run wild the minute they get the chance, their numbers statistically are lower! So while I come down on the no-leash side like you, I completely empathize with the moms who need them to keep their banshee boys safe and in sight…and to keep themselves from having a heart attack every two minutes… or to allow themselves the breathing room to head to Target for a pack of diapers without worrying that they might exit minus a child.

  4. Anitra
    September 7, 2010 | 5:09 pm

    I have a monkey backpack “leash” given to me by a friend. We tend to use it as an extra precaution when we’re going an extended time of hand-holding with our just-2-year-old (ie. when we’re not using our stroller) and/or when I have things that will be occupying my hands. She’s really good at wriggling her hand out of an adult’s grip.

    Thankfully, she LOVES the stroller, so we actually use that most of the time. Even if she does get out and push sometimes, it gives us a “home base”.

    And yes, I often let her away from me without hand-holding or a leash; but only in environments where I know she will be relatively safe and I will be able to keep an eye on her – like the mall; not on the sidewalk outside (not safe) or at the post office (I will need my eyes & hands for other things).

  5. Michael
    September 7, 2010 | 9:52 pm

    Suddenly, I remember why I never criticize other people’s parenting practice. This should be a good reminder for the next ten years or so.

  6. aimee
    September 7, 2010 | 10:20 pm

    I could have been on the same cruise as you. I have always fallen on the no leash side, but my youngest has almost broken my resolve. I loved Alaska, but having this 3 year old on the boat was tough. Unlike my others he is gone in a blink, doesn’t look back and has no fear. In the time it took me to pull my fleece over my head he had the chair by the deck railing and was leaning out of the boat!

  7. Tammy
    September 14, 2010 | 9:32 pm

    What you say does make sense, but did you ever think of how you would feel if you lost your child? Have you ever felt that way before? From reading your perspective, I agree that children shouldn’t be on leashes. They’re human beings, but you did you ever lose your child? You should think of someone who has lost their child and how it would feel. Despair…Sadness…They might have wanted to keep their children safe. Every kid can get hurt at any place, but probably, parents don’t want them lost. They might regret for not looking out for their children after their kids have died. They might blame themselves. You shouldn’t critixize other people’s parenting practice.

  8. Tammy
    September 14, 2010 | 9:44 pm

    Oops. Sorry.

  9. Candace Clark
    September 15, 2010 | 11:24 am

    I have a 4 year son. We have NEVER used leashes. I agree with what you are saying. We are often at the zoo, amusement parks, fairs, etc. He is a runner…that being said…a few times going home and correcting that behavior, it stopped. Consistency is the key here. He knows better than to run out into streets, he knows better to stray too far from mommy/daddy, and he always holds our hands when in parking lots,etc. We have taught him to look both ways for cars,etc and it works. No leash required, just old fashion parenting.

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