A Comment on Leash-Babies by Mattie Mould

Posted on June 29, 2011

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We’ve all seen them. We’ve watched as a child has walked/run/stomped past us in shopping centre/street/park with a leash strapped to their back, as a smug looking parent follows behind them, holding on tight. How is this acceptable? Putting aside the fact that it looks like you are walking your child (and people are thinking that the dog must have escaped) isn’t this basic restraint a form of child abuse?

I’m not talking about heavy-duty lock-them-in-a-dungeon child abuse (although who knows what else you would be willing to do if you treat your child like a puppy, or one of those weird ferrets you can walk?). I’m talking about the removal of freedoms and mental scarring. Years from now, when your kid has grown into a burly teenager, they’ll still be standing right next to you at parties and functions because they’ve been taught to heel all their lives.

Ahhhhh bebes, just TRY and stop them from playing in the mud.

Would you also set up one of those invisible fences that zap your kid when they attempt to leave the house? Or what about a collar that squirts nasty liquid into their mouths when they talk? Perhaps a comical cone around the neck is the way to go to stop them from picking their scabs.

In my travels I have seen a frightening increase in the number of leash-babies that are around and frankly, I’m mightily disturbed.

I can understand how a runaway brat could be the start of a very expensive lawsuit or a very sad trip to the hospital but what happened to simply holding hands? That’s right parents, grab your toddler by his/her chubby wrist and clamp on like one of those super-strong magnets. The trick is to not let them go! Failing this, put them on Dad’s shoulders and make gravity their leash, or shove them into a trolley seat at the supermarket. I don’t think it’s too much to ask you to stop treating your kids like animals.

Amusing, no?

A friend of mine is a Leash-Baby survivor, and while she is a perfectly lovely human being with independence and morals, I can still see a flicker behind her eyes, a shadow of the torment inflicted upon her. When she gets drunk, she retells the story of how she ran to chase a butterfly at the age of five and was dragged back by her determined mother at the other end of the line. It brings a tear to my eyes.

If, despite my warnings, you still wish to force your child into a leash, at least think carefully about which type you choose. I’ve discovered that there are three types of leash-babies:

  1. The “It’s Just A Backpack” Leash—This is perhaps the most harmless of the leashes available to harness your children. It is basically a small backpack for your child, usually in the shape of a frog or a bear, that can easily be taken on and off. It features a 2-3 metre-long strap attached to it, with a convenient handle for Mummy or Daddy’s hand to slip into.
  2. The “We Mean Business” Harness—The next level in saving your child from falling under a bus is the subtle—yet strong—harness. This is a black harness that has two arm holes and a strap across the front. This harness is rather like an uncomfortable and strong vest that can be removed in a few seconds when the clasp is unfastened. This ‘vest’ is attached to a strap anywhere from two to five metres long.
  3. The “You’ll Never Escape” Restraint—This type of Leash Baby is to be feared and this type of parent is to be judged. This harness is rather like the type you would put on before bungee jumping. It has straps across the chest, around the arms and legs and is held together by clasps that have Houdini raising eyebrow. However, the aspect of this leash that frightens me the most is the retractable cord that is fastened to the harness. It’s one of those leashes that can start at only two metres long but can be extended to up to fifteen metres. While you may say, “this allows more freedom” or “at least they have more space to run,” I must say to you, FALSE. This leash merely provides parents the opportunity to rein in their child. Try as they might to get away from you, this leash has a retract-device which cranks your child back to your side whether they like it or not. YOU BAD PARENT.

It’s freaky, it looks awful and to see it in the streets is downright unpleasant. If a child is naughty enough to require a leash then leave them at home until they can be trusted. A baby is not a dog.

Editors’ Note: Check out this US article on the weirdest ‘progressive’ parenting fads: http://www.cracked.com/article_19344_6-progressive-parenting-fads-you-wont-believe-are-legal.html

 Do you have an opinion on baby-leashing, readers? Do you agree with Mattie, or are you sitting, computer on lap, outraged at the thought of having the right to restrain your child dismissed? Provide your thoughts on baby-leashing below. 

Mattie Mould is a contributor to You’re Dripping Egg. She’s also written about “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt2” What’s life going to be like A.H. (After Harry)?

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Posted in: Opinion