There was a bit of a furore in one of the gay parents blog I'm following. You think it was about gays' rights to adopt or conceive children? About who are better parents, gays or lesbians? About who's the best American Idol finalist? Wrong, wrong, wrong.
It was about child leashes. You know, just like dog leashes only for children. It took place over at twomomswithaplan, the blog of a lesbian couple trying to conceive. It started with this post and was followed up with this one. In short, the writer didn't like the child leash and told off those who used it. This has attracted many replies from people who mostly disagreed with the statement and pointed out that they also didn't like the idea of a child leash at first, but changed their mind once their child reached a certain age. Some were offended by the fact that someone without kids was telling them how to raise theirs and were slightly rude. And... That's it. This is gay parent blog version of a flame war. Nice, isn't it? Nobody actually got to Godwin the discussion by comparing child leash users to Hitler.
Blake, growing up with two dog-brothers, is already part-dog.
My view? I still haven't used one of those things, but I don't rule it out. I'm sure my parents would've been grateful if this handy little thing had existed when I was a little one. I would always find any opportunity to slip away and escape. If my father let go of my hand for a second to scratch his nose, I was already miles away and hours would be spent finding me in the mall or theme park where I'd successfully ruin everyone's day, including my own. It's a miracle I didn't end up as roadkill or in some paedophile's basement collection.
You see, the complaint that toddlers shouldn't be treated like dogs has no merit. For one thing, toddlers are a lot more similar to dogs than they are similar to adults. They are utterly adorable, but most of them are easily distracted and don't know what's best for them. More importantly, both dogs and toddlers usually don't mind being leashed or at least don't view that as a humiliation (if they do, it's a different matter altogether). Leash a twelve year old and you're abusing him. Leash an eighteen year old and you're, well, kinky. But anyone below four is fair game, especially if they grow up being used to it and know other kids who use it.
No, wait. He's not a dog. He's a tiger. Rawr.When you think about it from a child's perspective it's the next best thing to actually running around free. The anti-leash camp offered other ways to handle a toddler: stroller, carrying, holding hands. All of these are very limiting to the child's movement, while with a leash he can stretch all his limbs and get far more freedom and a taste of independence.
That's not to say that they should be on a leash all day long and be tied to the doghouse outside when you get home. If you go to the park there's probably no need for a leash, but a busy shopping mall? A main street with lots of traffic? What happens if you have more kids than you have free hands? What if your kids have behavioural problems (which don't necessarily imply bad parenting)?
What bothered me with that post was the fact that the writer was criticizing other parents. To be honest, before I became a parent I also criticized other parents very readily. Now I know better not because I think all other parents are flawless (I'm certainly not, as you can see in the Parent of the Year posts), but because as a parent I was several times on the receiving end of criticism from people telling me how to raise my child and there are very few things in the world that are more annoying than that (Kara Dioguardi springs to mind). I guess a parent-to-be still hasn't had a taste of that and is therefore quicker to judge. Obviously if you see someone seriously harming their child, you should not only criticise them, you may also need to call the cops. There's a line somewhere and one should tread carefully. My as yet childless brother would every now and then criticize something I do and I would just brush him off with slight annoyance.
Anyway, that was exciting. I can't wait for the next controversy. Maybe the pros and cons of putting your baby on a vegan diet? Arguing about how much TV toddlers could watch and from what age? The possibilities are endless!