People are often quick to judge and shame mothers when it comes to different parenting styles.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on October 28, 2021. It has since been updated.
Parenting is not a one-size-fits-all process. It's easy to generalize and judge other people but the truth is no one really knows the full picture. One mom knows that only too well. Rachel Butcher has received tons of criticism and disapproving looks when they see her using a backpack leash with her adopted son. One such incident left Rachel in tears and she decided to take to Facebook to explain her side of the story. Although the post is currently unavailable, Brightside reports her post began by stating that her day was extremely hard, writing, “Our son has more energy and speed than your average 21-month-old. Aside from his already rough beginning of medicine exposure, we know little to nothing about his biological family and their genetics. So he could be more hyper just from experiences that I don’t know of.”
I get uncomfortable when I see parents with their kid on a backpack leash. That's a child you've got there, not a dog.— Richard (@RichardLouther) June 15, 2014
Butcher admitted that she was also someone who judged other moms for putting kids on a leash. She wondered how they could not control their own children. But after being a parent herself, she realized that it is far more difficult than one may fathom. She explained the story behind the backpack with an attached leash, saying, “My child runs faster than me. Due to scar tissue from my hysterectomy, I have trouble running sometimes to keep up with him. Let it also be known, I religiously ran races and ran every day before my surgery. So it’s not due to laziness. My child also hates to be confined, whether it’s by a car seat, high chair, stroller — or shocker, a shopping cart. I use Shipt more often than I should because it’s incredibly hard to go out with him alone sometimes. I’ve come home crying because I’ve left stores before finishing shopping because he’s having a meltdown, I also got snide comments and nasty looks then too."
"But today, today was worse. We went to Target and he wore his backpack and he did AMAZING. He was HAPPY, LAUGHING, SMILING, and yes, running, but he was close to me. The looks and side-eye I got from no less than 5 ’Karens’ made me grab my 2 items and leave. I don’t know why women feel the need to judge and mom-shame so often. What works for your child doesn’t necessarily work for mine." She added, "My son is nearly three now and still runs – like full out sprints – he still attends OT, PT, and speech, and we're working through his developmental delays and he is thriving. Remember his name, one day he will be a running back!"
So is this mom in the right or the wrong? "It's a personal decision," says Adam Spanier, M.D., professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and a pediatrician at the University of Maryland Children’s Hospital, according to Good Housekeeping. "This might be a product for a child that tends to wander off if not closely supervised, for crowds to avoid getting lost, for child with developmental delays, and for children with impulse control issues." He adds, "I am not specifically endorsing leash use. There could also be some psychological distress, depending on the child's age." There also might be risks of choking or falling, he pointed out. If you do choose to use a leash, pick a harness or backpack style, he says. "There are hand-hold or hand-grip leashes, where the parent holds one end and the child holds the other, but they require child cooperation," he explained. Many people have mixed feelings about kids' leashes. Some people think it looks cruel but others find it practical. What do you think?
disguising your kid's leash with a cute animal backpack doesn't hide the fact you've still got your kid on a leash— Are You Afraid of the Dean? 👻 (@deanchan) August 20, 2009
my son ran away when he was 2 and we got him a cute little monkey backpack with a “leash” and it was fine, we used it for like a year or less and that was it. It’s not like you leash the kid all the time forever.— death and gold and teeth surround me (@anjeweler) April 28, 2020