Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The vegetarian's guide to meat

You wouldn't listen to a vegetarian telling you how to prepare a steak dinner would you?

Me either.

Bare with me here... there's a point to all this. I promise.

Last week, out with my 2 year-old and my 6 month-old, I decided to put Matthew (toddler) into his harness, so that he could walk beside me.

At any given opportunity, Matthew will take off, forcing us to race after him. So basically we have three options:

1. Strap him into a stroller and keep him there for the duration of the outing.
2. Let him run loose and chase after him like a lunatic, hoping people don't accidentally step on him, or that we don't loose him altogether.
3. Strap him into a toddler harness and let him walk safely by our side.

So for the first time last week, I chose the harness. It was a great experience. Matthew loved it. He actually squealed with delight as he part-walked, part-ran beside me, clearly enjoying the freedom, yet still within the limits of the reins and close to me.

Then, a few days ago, a woman was caught on tape dragging her child through a store in Alabama. She was later charged with child cruelty. Very, very stupid indeed, not to mention incredibly cruel to the child.

In light of this, a flurry of articles appeared, like this one, in which the writer has basically taken the situation and twisted it into an excuse to condemn any other parent that uses a harness. He compares using a toddler harness (which he calls "leash" repeatedly to be provocative, I assume) to handcuffing one's child to a shopping cart or chaining them to a post.

In the article he says "It's my feeling that effective discipline -- and by this I mean behavior management tools that are actionable, functional, and operative in the long term -- defines clear boundaries and repercussions in advance, and puts the onus on the kid to figure out how to comply and find their own center".

I have to say, reading this article has really pissed me off.

First, it's an ignorant perspective. And, quite simplistic I think, to take a stand-alone event and blow it up into such epic proportions so as to then use it to unjustly vilify other parents.

Second, his statement about creating "behavior management tools" - utter crap. The extent of our communication with our toddler does not stretch to achieve such things. I mean, of course, it would be great if I could reason with him, if I could take him to one side and calmly explain that instead of tearing around in every direction, he should consider his options and ultimately choose the wisest, safest bet.

But you see, the thing is, HE IS TWO.

The writer thinks I/you should "allow the child to rationally engage with your demands and figure things out, rather than just be told what to do."

If we're talking about teaching valuable lessons about independence and responsibility, then I can vouch from first-hand experience that the harness is absolutely the way to go. One of the main benefits, as I discovered last week, is that the harness has helped us teach Matthew the value of restraint and self-control when walking along a road, or among a crowd of people, or anywhere really. Without the harness, he could simply have run off and hurled himself into any number of dangerous situations.

And no, I don't use the harness because it's "adorable" or an "accessory" to match my son's outfit, as was suggested in the article. In fact, the harness I own is an ugly blue one given to me as a gift.

And then it occurred to me as I was reading the writer's superior theories on parenting best practices that he was probably not, in fact, a parent himself. A quick check on his web site confirmed this. At least there was no mention of him having children on there anyway.

Fancy that! A non-parent harshly judging actual parents for doing something they themself have no real experience with? Never!
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27 comments:

Chandra said...

Anyone with children knows there's no 'reasoning' with a two year old...what an idiot! I would love the day when I can go the store and not have to chase after my 3 yr old or reason with him to stay in the cart "just a while longer"...the harness is a perfect invention and should be used by all mothers who are looking for a little peace while shopping!

Amy B. said...

Whatever. I've "leashed " my child on a few occasions, including at a busy amusement park and when we had to spend some time on the side of a highway (don't ask).

For those jerks who thought it was OK to chastise me when they saw us, I simply replied "A tethered baby is better than a dead baby."

That always shut them up.

Miss Understood Mommy of 2 said...

Honestly we are planning to buy a harness for my now 11 month old when she is walking for the same reasons you have bought yours. For her safety and her independance. Even as a crawler she has found herself in if no one had been around or able to get her not the safest situations so we think for our own sanity and her safety a thing like this is needed. And really does this person have kids? they aren't rational!!!

Gabrielle said...

You know what I love this post, know why? Because I changed my mind partially through your writing. I have four older kids now and I have completely forgotten how difficult it was to manage them in wide open spaces. Mine were 4 1/2, 3, 2 and 1. It was a crazy time. My three year old at the time is now 11 and guess what he still acts two when presented with a wide open space. haha Training and choices and discipline take time, but ultimately, EVERY child is different and act according to those differences. My third child has always been ridiculously obedient (which had nothing to do with me or behavioral techniques) And my fourth is a wild child that would unclip herself from the bike trailer and throw herself in the road so she could 'walk'. Guess what all the discipline in the world could not change her spirit and I wouldn't want it to. Because as an 8 year old she is wonderful and smart and still the amazing free spirit she was at 2 although I have many battle scars to show from my toddler years, I would never pass judgment on a good and loving parent using a tool that allows them to exit their home and enjoy a day at the mall. You know what I have to say to the guy belittling parents and harnesses. If harnesses weren't invented, that same woman would probably have drug her kid by the arm or a piece of rope just as easily, so should we ban ropes?

ModernMom said...

Give that guy a couple of toddlers, and infant and a dog to take to the city park for an afternoon. See how he feels then.

Mwa said...

I hate it when people judge you for silly things. Giving children methadon? Not ok. Using a harness? Butt out.

I have a harness in the cupboard, waiting in case I have a need for one.

Theta Mom said...

Reasoning...with a 2 year old? Impossible! Nobody should talk unless they walk a mile in your shoes (or any mothers shoes for that matter)!

Chic Mama said...

How ridiculous- we're talking about safety. It was totally obvious the writer has no experience of bringing up children. I think some people just write to provoke a reaction. I mean what else could they possibly have expected? Grrr.
I think parents that allow their toddlers 'free rein' are irresponsible. They scare motorists and can get lost/taken very easily.

CM

..... Carmen said...

My parents "leashed" my older brother when we were younger - he was a wild child and still is. I can't imagine my Mom trying to NOT reign him in! lol I've even thought of buying one for Grace to keep her safe in busy public places. I always think people should really keep their mouth shut unless they really know what they are talking about. I agree - give this guy a toddler, a dog, and send him to a busy park! Now that could be amusing!

Captain Dumbass said...

"Rationally engage with your demands and figure things out?" He should be locked in a room with ten 2 year olds and see how that pans out for him. Or he should be dragged through a store on a leash. Preferably something large like Home Depot.

Paging Doctor Mommy said...

I didn't even bother to click on the link to go to his site... I immediately guessed that he was not a parent, and that therefore his opinions were WORTHLESS on this topic!

♥ Teresa ♥ said...

I, too, knew from the very beginning that this idiot was not a parent. You can spot them anywhere - those smarty pants who like to throw in their amazing, incredible advice that is so superior but makes absolutely no sense if you have had a child more than a day! They make my skin crawl. I've actually had friends like this that I've had to distance myself from until they finally had children of their own. It's amazing how fast their perspective changes, isn't it??

Well, I was just stopping by from SITS to show some comment love but I'm glad I was able to enjoy your article. Hope your weekend is awesome!

Blessings,

Teresa <><

http://toomanyheartbeats.blogspot.com/

Mama Snow said...

What a great response to the harness article. I have hard people make comments about harnesses before, like it is treating the child like an animal or something. I think unless you have 2 or more kids, it is hard to really understand how much a harness can really help out. I have a 4 year old and a 2 year old. My 2 year old now does not like strollers or grocery carts. This has become a bit of a problem. With 2 kids loose I may have to purchase the whole store after they destroy it. What is the point in even going. If I force my younger one in a stroller or cart, reality is the seat belts are not going to keep her in. There has been several time she has squeezed through and almost feel out on top of her head. Pretty much it is an accident waiting to happen.
I see the harness as a great option. Like everything else, it may or may not work for your child, but if used correctly it could be just what you and your child needed to make a days outing run more smooth and be more enjoyable. More then anything I give high fives to all parents who use harnesses at theme parks (like Disneyland). To me having my child get lost in a crowd or sneaking off is not worth it.
Thanks for this awesome post. I love hearing people's opinion, especially when they have great reasoning behind their thoughts.

Happy VGNO. IT was nice to meet you

Kat said...

I have seen harnesses used both correctly and incorrectly. Once in an airport a Mom, traveling alone, had young toddler twins that were very active boys. I think without those harnesses she would have never made it to the gate and if she did she would have been a deranged lunatic! Her harnesses were her saving grace and she used them correctly.

The most important thing is to keep your child safe :)

Lil said...

Reading his article pissed me off! He was quite judgemental and from his writing it did not seem that he had children of his own. Like you mentioned, who can reason with a 2 year old? I use the 'leash' and it has prevented my daughter from taking off into crowds and streets. I use it for safety. How about the parents that have multiple children, I could not just take off running after her without leaving one behind. A long with safety I also worry about kidnapping by having a child take off...

James (SeattleDad) said...

Pu-Leeez. What a moron. Nuff said.

blueviolet said...

First before I forget, Happy VGNO!

He has some nerve passing judgment when he has NO clue how rambunctious a two year can be and they slip away in the blink of an eye.

Shop with Me Mama said...

I say do what works for YOU! I absolutely LOVE the way you write and express yourself, great! I am happy I found your blog. Ya, reasoning with a two year old or three year old or any child under 5 is NOT something that can be done.. at least for ME. Wouldn't it be WONDERFUL if it could be though? Maybe that person who wrote that article has an answer to that? I will totally use the "leash" on my little ones. Would rather have one "non-parent person" glare at me for it then to loose my child to a molester... Thanks but no thanks! Oh, and happy VGNO!

Loukia said...

Like Chandra said, there is no reasoning with a two year old. You do what you feel comfortable doing. People are always going to judge, no matter what. Today at the fair, my boys had each cotton candy, a giant lollipop, popcorn and a candy apple. I'm sure lots of people would judge me based on that alone! But it is tough running around after a young child, when you have another child with you, I know. It's not easy. I especially hate when non-parents talk about what parents are doing wrong or what they should be doing.

Chocolate Covered Daydreams said...

It's better safe than sorry. Only a parent knows their child's capabilities and why chance it?

Stacy (the Random Cool Chick) said...

I would love to see that guy just try to 'reason' with a two year old... I like Captain Dumbass's suggestion of locking him in a room with 10 two-year olds and see how he does...(grin!!)

Happy VGNO! :)

Native American Momma said...

I reason with my two year old all the time. You go up the stairs and down the slide. You go up the stairs and down the slide. You go up the stairs and down the slide......
I try not to judge others actions, I mean sometimes some things are just plain wrong but that doesn't mean I get to decide they are a bad person they might have just made a mistake.

Mammatalk said...

Handcuffing a child to a shopping cart? Now, there's an idea. :+)

No,seriously, that article blew me away. I guess a flattened-by-a-bus toddler is better than a restrained toddler. At least he had his freedom!

Maria @BOREDmommy said...

I'm with Loukia on this one - people will always judge you no matter what. My philosophy is that I'm going to do what's best for my kids and my family, and I don't care what other people think about it quite honestly. As long as my kids are safe, happy and healthy than I'm doing my job. Although I never used a harness, my daughter was willing to sit in her stroller so it wasn't an issue for me. Using that crazy woman as an example of what is wrong with the harness is just plain ridiculous.

Momma Sunshine said...

It's shocking to me how judgmental people can become so quickly. I mean, I have my own ideas and philosophies when it comes to parenting, but those are ideas that I apply to MY FAMILY ONLY. I couldn't begin to tell someone else what they should and shouldn't do when it comes to things like breastfeeding, harness-using, or whatever. There's too much "grey area" when it comes to this kind of thing...

Tania @ Larger Family Life said...

I had all the parenting answers. Then I became a parent. Seems this guy is still on the former.

Daddy Geek Boy said...

Right on Lady Mama! The only person that should tell you how to parent your kid is you.