Posts Tagged ‘toddlerhood’
It is a topic that gets heated on parenting message boards: Child Leashes, Tethers, and Restraints. But it isn’t just non-parents that don’t like these devices. In Attachment Parenting circles I’ve heard a child tether compared to a circumstraint and described as distinctly NON-AP. I disagree. First and foremost, AP is about being in tune with the needs of your individual child and trusting your instincts.
I remember the first time I saw one when I was about 12 years old. I was horrified! Leashes are for dogs how dare a parent treat a child like a pet! Yet thinking back, I remember my mom using one of me on occassion. I also remember times when she didn’t use one and I got lost at the supermarket or a crowded mall. I was traumatized by being lost and not by the leash, go figure.
When Shammy started walking he wasn’t very good at holding onto an adult’s hand for more than a few steps. Now that he’s running I was terrified of all of the things that could happen in the span of a few seconds in a public place. Because of this we didn’t let him walk outside the house with few exception. He was in the Ergo, the stroller or a shopping cart.
So, here’s my shocking confession: I’m a child tetherer.
Yep, I walk my toddler on a leash!
I never imagined myself to be a mother that would use a leach. But I much rather have the peace of mind that he won’t suddenly let go off my hand and run off in a crowd.
It was awesome and I wish I’d had the guts to buy one earlier! Shame on me for caring so much what other people think! If I made all my parenting decisions based on public opinion I wouldn’t be a very good mother. I certainly wouldn’t be breastfeeding my toddler in public if I cared more about what Jon Doe thought than about the needs of my child. The whole breastfeeding in public bashing, in my opinion, is a complete projection of an adult hang up. To a child there is no connotation there is only nutrition and nurturance and mama.
I think the same thing is at play with the leash. We see a kid on a leash and connotations about subjugation and degradation spring to our adult minds. A child doesn’t think this though. He’s never heard about “being on a short leash.” He just sees sunshine and grass and flowers and mama.
Pregnant and with a toddler I figure I have a few options:
1. Babywear all the time. He’s young enough that he can still ride in the ergo
Pros: The ultimate in AP – babywearing. Complete control of where the kid goes.
Cons: He won’t be this small forever and now that I’m pregnant my bump is starting to get in the way of a front carry, a back carry hurts me after a few minutes and I don’t like a hip carry. And, most importantly, Shammy doesn’t want to be in the carrier – he wants to explore and get his hands dirty! I want this too so this option is out.
2. Use a stroller. What we’ve been doing so far.
Pros: complete control of the kid.
Cons: Strollers don’t ride very well in unpaved areas. Shammy still can’t explore. Option out.
3. Let the toddler be free range. Let him run free!
Pros: Complete freedom to explore.
Cons: More open to danger, especially with me being slowed down by pregnancy it can be hard to get to him in time before a slip or fall or before he touches poison ivy for example. Plus, in busy places the fear of predators snatching my kid or him simply getting lost in a crowd. I’m not comfortable with this in some settings (while others, like my own back yard, a walk through our neighborhood, and some play grounds I would feel safe to let him run free).
4. Leash. Put on his monkey backpack with a “tail” that mommy or daddy holds onto.
Pros: Moderate control – He is in charge of where he goes and what he touches within reason. He can’t run into traffic or be snatched up by someone else if he gets too far from us. I don’t have to worry about him falling into a place that could harm him..
Cons: I can’t think of any in the confines of my relation with Shammy. Disapproving looks from others would only be an issue if I were to put them before my son’s safety, not happening.
So, for me, leash is the best option. I agree that it has the possibility for abuse. As with anything you can parent well with it or you can parent poorly. If you are going to jerk your kid around and scream every time they veer towards something you don’t want then the tether becomes a tool for dominance and control over your child. However, if you use the tether in order to provide a safe boundary for your child to explore independence then I feel it falls perfectly in line with my parenting philosophy and goals.
I was surprised at how much he loves it, the only time that he complained was when we would pick him up to cross the street or put him in the car.
Before Shammy was born my husband I agreed that we would delay his introduction to McDonald’s food (and fast food in general) for as long as we could. I understand that we can’t shelter him forever and decided that if I make it to 5 years old when he gets invited to his first birthday party at McDonald’s we would have done very well. We may or may not make it but it’s a goal that I actively work for.
It saddens me when I see so many toddlers eating the crap with the “free” toy (and it pisses me off that they cater to them by having a toddler toy by request). Almost every friend I know will feed their kids a happy meal at least occasionally.
Many parents use the “we were busy with (insert big project that interferes with cooking) and he/she needed to eat”. I totally get that, I’ve been there. I’ve also been out of the house all day with nothing but snacks and the kid needs to eat. We’ve been on road trips where the adults stop at the McD drive thru but the kid doesn’t eat from it.
If you know you’re going to move, plan a party, remodel the kitchen, go on a trip or whatever other common excuse for the convenience of a happy meal know that there are far healthier choices that are quick and cheap. I admit that my son has eaten at Arby’s once or twice, while not the same as a home meal, for the same cost of McDonald’s minus the carcinogens and with a fraction of the saturated fat.
Then the parents get defensive and say “it’s only once in a while, what could happen?” Hopefully nothing! But sadly an occassional here and there evolves throughout the weeks/months/years into brand recognition, fixation and by the time they are in school it could be a daily or weekly convenience meal or treat for good grades or…. you get my drift.
I can see it getting bad when the kid will refuse to eat anything but a happy meal when sick, it has become their comfort food and the parent is either oblivious or in denial. And then this same kid may grow up with obesity, be high risk for other health problems and have ingrained bad food habits. I know, I was that kid.
What had started as an occasional kid’s meal treat as a toddler evolved into a fast food addiction by elementary school. My parents had to buy me KFC every night because I refused to eat home cooked dinners. We couldn’t leave the house without stopping at a drive thru. I had high cholesterol in third grade!!
It was a hard and conscious effort as an adult to clean up my diet. I still think that fast food tastes better than home cooked, I still crave it, I would rather eat from a drive through than from my kitchen, I still occasionally eat it but it takes a lot of will power and I ultimately agree that I’ll cut a few minutes out of my life expectancy because I’m weak and just have to indulge the craving.
I admit that I resent my parents for introducing me to that crap at such an early age and do wonder about the what if’s of my adult health and diet if it hadn’t been that way. This is something that I think about when trying to make decisions for my son as I don’t want him bitching at me at 21 like I bitched at my mother.
And I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that we’re in the middle of a childhood obesity epidemic. I work at a WIC office, I hear about it all day and see the McDonald’s cups and toys all the time.
Yet I don’t blame the parents, I blame the fast food industry’s ad agencies and marketing departments.
Fast food marketing works!
* Eighty-four percent of parents reported taking their child to a fast food restaurant at least once a week; 66% reported going to McDonald’s in the past week.
* Forty percent of parents reported that their child asks to go to McDonald’s at least once a week; 15% of preschoolers ask to go every day. (fastfoodmarketing.org)
I see the payoff of this campaigns first hand. Almost every toddler that I know recognizes the McDonald’s goldeen arches faster than they recognize Mickey Mouse (don’t get me started on the McDonald’s branded drive through toys).
A Standford University research study has revealed that pre-school kids prefer foods wrapped in McDonalds packaging over the same foods wrapped in unmarked packaging saying it tastes better. (newscientist.com)
I’m not trying to single the attack on just McDonald’s, they just happen to have the monopoly on the toddler market. Many other fast food chains are just as bad.
For the busy parent that is overwhelmed and on a tight budget, unable or unwilling to pack a sandwich and so they feel that they have no choice but feed their kid from a drive thru, here is a compilation of the best and worst children’s meal combination from popular fast food restaurants. Take your kid to Subway instead of McDonalds, but if you must insist on the arches (perhaps because you’ve got a craving too) at least know which happy meal is the lesser of the evils (and no, the cheeseburger with fries is not it). So at least try to get the apple slices instead of the french fries next time. Best and worst fast food kids meals
Recently a mother lost custody of a third grader that was 200 pounds and morbidly obese because she couldn’t control his weight, I wonder what this kid’s favorite food is….
When people find out that I still breastfeeding the most common reaction is eyes popping out cartoon style in shock followed with a question about when I am going to wean, I always refer them to Shammy for the answer, they don’t always appreciate that.
To the horror of my family and some friends, I don’t see him weaning anytime soon.
But that doesn’t mean that the weaning journey didn’t already start. It actually started at close to 6 months when he had solid foods the first time, progressed further when I stopped pumping at work and continues at a pace dictated by Shammy.
At 15 months of age he’ll still nurse about 6 times per day on the days that we’re home all day. These are not the same as infant feedings, they’re much shorter and mainly for comfort. Plus then there’s what I call the “teases” where he’ll insist on latching on for 30 seconds and then move on to something else, I don’t try to count those.
Some people may be horrified at the frequency but I don’t mind and enjoy it most of the time because in this stage of independence and exploration this is one of the few times when I can get some quality cuddles in, smell the back of his neck or caress his arm.
Many times he’ll want to nurse “because it’s there” if he’s distracted or busy he won’t even miss them. And then there’s the times when it’s been a while and he sees me and will act like a junkie having withdrawals, it’s rather amusing.
With the evolution of our breastfeeding relationship come new challenges, I no longer have to deal with growth spurts related feeding frenzies but instead have to enjoy an acrobatic performance of gymnurstics and dance. This is very cute until Shammy miscalculates a step or loses his footing but fails to let go of my breast, ouch!
But truth be told, it’s also in no small part because I am too lazy to commit to weaning. It’s a battle I choose not to pick. Nursing is still the fastest way to get him to sleep, still the best way to get him to stop crying when he is scared or hurt. It’s a crutch, I will admit. He’ll let me know when he is ready by stopping on his own.