Recently, one of my mom friends got very riled up by a video comedian Kevin Hart posted (watch out of earshot of young kids please).
Kevin Hart, meanwhile, was riled up by a woman he saw who had two kids in child safety harnesses, a.k.a. leashes. “I hate this sh*t….walking these g*damn babies on a leash,” Hart said. “I should go bop her in the back of her head!” In response, my friend wrote:
This really pissed me off … You have really easy going kids? Good for you! Maybe no kids at all? Yea ok that’s why you think you know. Judge away if you need that to make you feel good about yourself but I will do what ever I have to protect my child in this world and a harness is the least of it! My child is strong and fast and he’s 19 freaking months old … He isn’t obedient he’s a f*ing toddler… And I’m supposed to let him possibly run of into a crowd or get hit by a car because you’re so f*ing smart you see a similarity between a harness and a dog leash omg you f*ing genius.”
Can you tell she was upset?
I thought at first that this was a mommy wars topic that divides parents; but now I’m actually thinking it might be an issue that divides parents vs. non parents. I would think that any mother of a toddler could see the need for a harness – those little monsters don’t want to hold your hand, squirm out of your grasp and can get lost in a crowd in seconds. But non parents (although Hart is a parent; maybe I should say non moms?) just see kids on a “leash” like a dog. Our gut instinct is to think you shouldn’t treat your kid the way you treat animals. But, as my friend retorted, “Why do you care enough to protect your dog from running away but not your toddler?” Good point!
Strapping a kid in a stroller is just as bad as, if not worse than, a harness. It’s actually even more confining, and doesn’t allow the kid to get exercise like a harness does. In fact, a harness gives the kid the illusion of independence, because he can walk on his own without holding your hand. And if you have multiple young kids, like the woman in the video, a harness can save you from having the impossible task of chasing your kids in opposite directions at the same time. It’s silly to tell parents, “Just control your kid.” Anyone with a toddler (unless your kid is super easy) will tell you that young children can’t just be controlled. They’re not robots. My 21-month-old does not even speak English yet, and he doesn’t understand the danger of running away.
I have not yet bought LM a harness, although I did do some online research for the eventual purchase. But I saw the need for it first-hand when we visited the Bronx Zoo a couple of weeks ago. We knew LM couldn’t walk the whole way, so we brought the stroller. But he soon was itching to get out of it, and when we tried to hold his hand, he resisted. The zoo was not very crowded when we first got there, so we let him run on his own for a little while. But as the day wore on, the crowds grew, and it was no longer safe to have LM out of the stroller without holding our hands. This did not go over very well, and we soon found ourselves struggling to either keep hold of him or get his wriggly body back in the stroller. If we had had a harness, he would have been proud to walk “independently.” Win-win, for us and for him.
I think Kevin Hart knew that he would be ruffling feathers with his video – he is a comedian, after all, and was probably looking to push the envelope. And though I generally find him to be pretty funny, I think he missed the mark here. I will definitely be buying a harness for LM.
Would you use a harness for your child? Why or why not?