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Kid Leash: Lazy Parenting or Safety Necessity?

A few months ago I wrote a just-for-fun, much-discussed round-up of ridiculous parenting products, from the insanely expensive to the useless to the just plain weird. The product that caused the most furor in the comments? The kid leash. Turns out there are two kinds of parents: those who think they are barbaric (“FREE THE LEASHED KIDS!!!” one commenter crowed) and those who feel they are a must-have when you’re in a crowded place. Perhaps they are an indicator of what kind of parent you are – the free-range, we-ate-dirt-and-didn’t die parents who think children need to learn through experience, and those who feel like all it takes is a second for something awful to happen, and that everything possible should be done to prevent the unthinkable.

My own view -- as I wrote in the piece -- is that while some kids, especially those with developmental issues, might truly need one to stay safe, most kids should learn to hold hands and stay close. I say that as a mother of two, who travels with my kids frequently and lives in a high-density area where we are frequently in crowds. My daughter once lost sight of me in a busy cafeteria (I could see her, though) and the ensuing panicky tears were enough to teach her to stay close. I recently saw a leashed kid in the park, and when he tried to head to the sandbox, he got jerked back and landed on his butt. It reminded me of a dog staked in the yard, trying desperately to get at squirrels.

Of course my son is just 14 months, and may soon revolt against sitting in the stroller, making me eat my own words.

So where do you fall? Are you anti- or pro-leash? And check out the list of ridiculous parenting products.