A mom has shared a passionate justification for using a backpack leash for her adopted son in a bid to reduce mom-shaming and bridge the gap between differing opinions on the subject.
On July 11, 2019, Rachel Butcher went to Target with her adopted 21-month-old son, Zac, using a leash to keep her son close by. After feeling unfairly judged by other parents inside the store, Rachel decided to share her experience on her Facebook page, capturing the attention of numerous parents in the process.
“Today was hard,” Rachel began. “Even as I start to write this now, I’m crying and clouded in shame and embarrassment.”
“Our family and friends know our son is adopted,” she continued, “they also know he was born drug-addicted. He has more energy and speed than your average 21-month-old.”
Rachel then went on to explain that she and her partner, Frank, knew “little to nothing” about Zac’s biological family and their genetics. But more importantly, Rachel pointed out, other mothers do not know her child or anything about her ability to parent him.
“I have a backpack leash for my son,” Rachel explained. “Ten years ago, walking around Disney World, I laughed and cringed at the sight of children on leashes,” she admitted. “How can they not control their child? I’ll never let my child behave that way.”
The mom shared that her previous thinking was flawed, adding, “[L]et’s be real, every parent has said that line once or twice before they had children and ate crow years later.”
Rachel explained that her son runs faster than she does and hates to be confined to a car seat, high chair, or stroller. She also went on to clarify that she wasn’t lazy and actually participated in races before her hysterectomy.
“I have come home crying because I have left stores before finishing shopping because he is having a meltdown,” Rachel wrote. “I also got the snide comments and nasty looks then, too. But today, today was worse.”
That day in Target, the mom regaled, Zac was happy and well behaved on his backpack leash, but the “looks” and “side eye” that Rachel received from five different women in the store compelled her to grab her two shopping items and leave.
“I don’t know why women feel the need to judge and mom-shame so often,” Rachel reflected. “What works for your child doesn’t necessarily work for mine.”
In sharing her heartfelt post, Rachel clarified that she didn’t do it for people to sympathize with her “but more of a public service announcement to kids with leashes.”
“My son does not have a disability; he is a runner. My neighbors know he is a runner, so much so that they chase after him too,” she explained.
“It takes a village to raise a kid,” Rachel concluded, “and my village rocks.”
According to a discussion on Today’s Parent, debates on using backpack leashes to keep their energetic toddlers close to their caregivers include concerns that it makes the parent look lazy or cruel. Some believe that a leash replaces properly taught disciplinary measures, and others worry they might incite tantrums.
Arguments in favor of using leashes for kids include the fact that carrying and hand-holding can be awkward or uncomfortable, and that leashes may prevent kids from getting lost in a crowd or running away.
Rachel’s Facebook post garnered a number of comments in support of the adoptive mom’s parenting choices. “You are a brave and strong woman and a wonderful mother,” wrote one person. “Never doubt yourself.”
“Parenting 101: there are no rules,” wrote another. “Every child responds differently to different situations. What is best for one child is not necessarily the best for another child.”
“Never let any other person make you feel ashamed, even though I know that is easier said than done,” added one netizen. “Be true to you and your family! You’re an inspiration.”
We would love to hear your stories! You can share them with us at firstname.lastname@example.org