I'm Mad as Hell and I'm Not Gonna Take it Anymore! Sorta!

Yesterday the ever-thoughtful and balanced Amber had a post up on leashing your child. For safety, not, you know, just for kicks. A commenter posted a link to another post on using a leash for the purpose of not letting your kid hurl him/herself into traffic. A couple of the commenters to that post really spiked my blood pressure.
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I don't like confrontation. It makes me dizzy and sweaty. I also try not to be too judgemental. I'm a firm believer in not thinking you can judge a person until you've walked a mile in their leopard-skinned boots or socks and sandals. Over the past few years, though, I'm realizing that there is a limit to tolerance. There's a difference between not being judgemental and being a wussy push-over who has no opinions. Following different religions is not something I have a problem with. But honour killings are wrong. Being passionate about your culture is great. But cutting off someone else's hands and/or feet because they belong to a different culture is wrong. Denying education to women is wrong.
One of the smaller-scale things that I'm not going to just shut up and fume quietly about is a small subset of 'attachment parenters' who not only refuse to feed their children with bottles, vaccinate their children, let their babies sleep in cribs or do anything that might be construed as discipline -- that's their right, although if you don't vaccinate your child won't be playing with mine -- but also feel justified in telling other parents that they are at the very least neglectful and lazy, and at the worst abusive, if they don't do the same.

One comment said "Leashing a child is wrong -- period". Oh, nothing like that little construction to make the top of my head blow right off. It reminds me of a letter to the editor in the Ottawa Citizen which read "Breast is best -- period." Oh really? Even when you have an inadequate milk supply and your child is starving? What if you have to undergo chemotherapy? What if breastfeeding gives you debilitating migraines so you can either nurse your child or do everything else for them?

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I've always said that nothing terrifies me so much in a person as certainty. People who are absolutely convinced that they are right, not an eyelash's width of room for doubt -- these are the people who, under certain circumstances, strap bombs to themselves and go in search of virgins in paradise. Under other circumstances, they just really bring down a playgroup. There are so very few things that I would add '--period' to -- I can't believe how some people fling it around. Leashing a child is wrong -- period? More wrong than a child running in front of a car or getting irretrievably lost in a department store, causing hours of distress for the mother and the child? Leashing is treating a child like a dog? Sorry, but is that a really bad thing? Most of the pets I know are treated like royalty. Their leashes are a matter of safety too, not a device for humiliation and punishment. The rest of the comment reads "children are meant to be free and parents are their to protect but not stiffle (sic) them". Um, sorry, but have you possibly confused children with African lions or bald eagles? Because my experience has been that children are born with no sense of empathy or self-protection, and I'm here to help them learn those things. Do you send your one-year-old out to forage for dinner? Do you use a car seat, or does letting them ping-pong around the back seat engender more of a sense of freedom? Bike helmets can be sweaty and uncomfortable -- forget those, I guess.

Here's another one: "Why can't you parents keep a hold on your children without a leash? Generations grew up just fine without them. I say it's the parents not wanting to stay on alert all the time, not that kids run. Put a leash on your child and you can continue your conversation with your friends or shop without ever having to think about your child." That's right. All you parents who said your children run away? You're just big fat flat-out liars. And generations grew up just fine without them? What does that even mean? I'd venture a guess that toddler mortality rates are lower right now than they were generations ago. Sure, that MIGHT be because of better nutrition and medical care, but how do you know it's not the leashes? Chew on that, toots. And let's just examine the assumption that wanting to be able to finish a sentence or reach up to the top shelf to get a box of detergent without worrying about your child disappearing makes you a selfish, horrible person.

In the spirit of honesty, most of the comments for both posts were positive. I'm just at the point where I'm ready to say live and let live; you have a God-given right to your own opinion; you have God-given right to go home and talk about me behind my back to your husband about you think whatever I was doing today was loony; but if you want to spout vitriolic nonsense where I will see it, about how not following your every parental tenet makes me a bad mother, and expect me to just slink away, just because that's basically what I've done for the last thirty-nine-and-a-half years? Not gonna happen. I will seek you out and challenge you to a slap-fight. Well, not really, but I will come down on your head with the full weight of my many-adjectived rhetoric, you pusillanimous sanctimonious poop-heads.

There. That was invigorating. I'm going upstairs for Maalox now.


Mary Lynn said…
"I've always said that nothing terrifies me so much in a person as certainty."

Yes yes and also YES!

You're awesome. :-)
Mary Lynn said…
Or at least, I'm almost totally positive you're awesome! ;-)
CJ said…
Too bad we can't support one another in our differences of opinion instead of stating what's "right" and "wrong". What's right for one mom or child may not be for the other....but who's business is it to determine who should be doing what? Ugh. Great post!
Lynn said…
Aw, Mary Lynn already took my comment! I am so in agreement, and that line was the best ever.

Parenting is just the hardest, hardest thing ever. I've learned that it's very important as a parent to do what's right for your own family -- and never, ever judge other families. I'm still learning about this job -- I'll never be able to say I know it all.

Okay, maybe I ACT like I know it all. :)
Amber said…
Great post. I don't get on well with fundamentalist "anything" because of the strict certainty that their way is the only way...period. I hate that, especially when it comes to parenting. How could there be only one right way to parent when there are so many different types of kids?
Julie said…
woohoo! you go girl!

and thanks for standing up for the women whose boobs don't work. in the breast feeding sort of way. that was a tough one for me to live through with all the "breast is best...period" out there.

rock on.
Anonymous said…
I think you're bang on. I think that people who make blanket statements are often not parents themselves. It's very easy to assume that you will parent a certain way when it's all hypothetical. That's how I chose to read the accusatory comments on the linked post - these are people who don't know what they're talking about.

I consider myself a breastfeeding advocate, but I view my goal as helping mothers to achieve the breastfeeding experience they want, wherever possible. It isn't always possible, and their goals are not necessarily my goals even if it is. And that's cool. I think that we can support each other without judging, and without starting holy wars over leashes or bottles or where the kid sleeps. Because, in the grand scheme of things, this all matters much less than it seems to at the moment. You won't get any 'PERIOD!' statements out of me. Well, unless I currently have mine. ;)
Anonymous said…
You tellem"!!!! I even know someone who breast fed, but didn't pump an adequate amount for daytime when at work and refused to let baby have formula because she wanted to say that she totally nourished him from her own body!! I think breast/bottle is personal choice, no right or wrong, but by all means make sure your child is getting proper nutrition!The leash thing...my sister had someone go off on her at an airport once for having her daughter on a leash. I used one from time to time, and think it kept my kids safe...they grew up to be normal people! Why must people be so judgemental and think their way is the only way!
Magpie said…

My mother used a leash, and that was a LONG time ago...yeah, people made cracks - her opinion was that it was kinder to the child than pulling their arms out of their shoulder sockets.
Jules said…
So awesome. And true! Leashes can be very affective for safety reasons. Especially when your kid takes off running towards traffic while you are nursing your newborn on a park bench. Good thing for me, I had a friend with me that could take off running after my son. I definitely see nothing wrong with leashes for kids. (As long as it's for the right reasons)
Karen said…
Amen, sister.

In the mid-60s, my aunt put a leash on her son because they lived on a busy road and she wanted him to be able to play in the yard (unfenced yard). So she leashed him and attached him to the long clothes-line. That, or no fresh air. These are the choices that some people have to make. I'd make the same one she did.
Rosemary said…
I'm going to copy/paste your post and then print it off and carry it around with me for the next time I need inspiration to tell someone to stuff it and get out of my way. And in case you're wondering, yes, I used a leash for one kid and not the other. I'm sure you know which one. :)

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