Balancing Safety and Freedom


photo by Sara Logston

I Thought Leashes Were for Dogs

Before I had kids, I made fun of people who used these child leash looking things.  Some of these safety devices even look like handcuffs.  I wondered why they couldn’t get control of their kids.  Is this lazy parenting?

Then This Happened

When Jaxon was very little, I was at a park playdate with a group of moms.  Jaxon took off running and I trotted after him.  There was a fence ahead so I figured he would stop at the fence since it was a foot over his head.  I called his name but he was after something.  As he approached the fence I ran a little faster so I could corner him but I wasn’t panicked yet just a lot embarrassed and a little pissed.

He had run clear across a huge field and all the other moms were looking on while feeding their kids juice boxes at the park.  He grabbed hold of the fence, climbed the first rung and leaped over the wood bars and he was free.  Now I start to panic.  My legs pumped harder as I sprint toward the wood fence and my toddler leaping into the street ahead.

My heart sank as he turned a corner into a neighborhood which I knew nothing about.  Damn it why didn’t I run harder to begin with?  He was gone.  I thought about all the things that could happen in an instant.  A car turning the corner, a man in a truck looking for just the right moment, someone offering him an ice-cream cone and luring him into their house.

He was across a street, around a corner and a couple houses down before I found him in someone’s garage checking out their car.  “car car” he muttered as he circled the vehicle.  This was not the first time Jaxon had made a run for it and it certainly was not the last.  He kept me in shape those few years.

Now I don’t judge

There are parents who think leashes are for dogs and parents who insist they are a necessity for safety. I spend a lot of time with my kids outside so they don’t destroy my house and I can tell you even with constant attention kids make bad choices in a split second.

4th of July

Jaxon liked his harness. When he was following directions well we took the “tail” off and he used it as a backpack.

I had two kids close together and I am legally blind which means they could be “out of sight” easily.  I used strollers and harnesses like this one but still taught safety skills.  I walked miles with my kids, waited for busses, went on camping trips and took them to busy events with hundreds of other people.  I couldn’t trust a two-year-old to patiently wait on a sidewalk while the bus they were anxiously awaiting was pulling in.  My arms were full of groceries, diaper bags and another kid.

I think things like leashes, harnesses and even strollers can be both wonderful tools and crutches at the same time. I didn’t use the leashes all the time.  I tried to teach my kids to walk close to me, stop at the corner, and listen to directions.  I let them walk the block and a half to the park unassisted so they could practice safety skills but when we were in heavy traffic areas they had to “earn” the freedom.

Before you judge someone taking their toddler for a walk tethered to a stuffed monkey consider that their little human is wired to run on impulses and emotions and the rest is “in training.”

9 Reasons to Consider Using a Harness or Leash

  1. Your kids are very young and they outnumber you
  2. You walk a lot and use public transportation – I can’t tell you how many kids I have seen darting close to or on the street looking for the bus or trolley
  3. You frequent busy places like farmer’s markets where kids can get lost in the shuffle
  4. First trips camping and hiking – kids will want to see and experience nature but you don’t want them running off in the woods
  5. You are traveling in airports and train stations – not great places to learn about getting separated the hard way
  6. If you have a child with disabilities
  7. If you are a parent with disabilities
  8. Some kids think running away ins funny and if they are like Jaxon they will also enjoy hiding
  9. Some kids are ready to be out of a stroller and frankly walking is healthier for them anyway

About saralogston

I live in the Pacific Northwest with my family of 4 and extended family. I have been a stay-at-home mom for the past 11 years but I am currently transitioning back to work part time. My interests are healthy living, saving money, knitting and cooking.
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5 Responses to Balancing Safety and Freedom

  1. Your post is thought provoking, It made me go back in time, to the first time I saw children with leashes. I was horrified, but of course I was a teenager then, and didn’t anything about raising energetic children. When I think about it now, I remember quite a few horrifying instances when my kids were little, where a leash would have come in very very handy. When we were in Moscow once, and my son was four years old, for instance. We were carrying our winter coats, bags, stuff, and our them 2 year old daughter. We stood in the Passport control line, with intimidating,, armed security officers around, when my son, who was bored and an explorer at heart, suddenly ran away behind the Passport control cubicles, past the armed guards. Instinctively, my husband rushed to follow him, calling his name. The guards yelled at him and pointed their weapons at him. My heart raced, then sank.. After a bit of crying and yelling, they let my husband go look for our son. He found him in the second terminal…miles away. It was probably the worst day in our lives, and the happiest, when he was found, safe and sound.
    I think a leash would come in handy, then.


  2. Aunt Mickie says:

    Well done, Sara. I know what a free spirit you are at heart, and that being a good Mom is tops on your list. The child leash choice is well thought out. Things happen so fast with the little ones as they live and learn throughout their younger years. See you soon! Love to your family, Aunt Mickie.


  3. Awesome post Thanks sharing it.


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