Rachel Butcher has to lead her adopted son on a leash even when judgmental eyes follow every step she makes.
Have you ever seen a parent leading their child on a leash? Society doesn’t really approve this, claiming that some parents can’t tell the difference between children and pets. But parenting is challenging and parents do their best to protect their child. Leading kids on a leash has nothing to do with cruelty, and this story shares a completely different aspect.
Rachel Butcher got a backpack leash for her adopted kid. She was well aware of the fact that some people will condemn her decision. However, she couldn’t even imagine that people would go this far. Mom-shaming doesn’t feel good at all.
In July 2019, Rachel took to Facebook to share her story. Apparently, using backpack leashes is the only way to control her boy’s hyperactivity. The child has quick movements, and the situation can easily get out of control.
The boy was born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome and has more energy than his mom. Rachel can’t really keep up with him.
“Today was hard. Even as I start to write this now, I’m crying and clouded in shame and embarrassment. I know I shouldn’t feel this way but as I said, today was hard. Our family and friends know our son is adopted, they also know he was born drug-addicted.
He has more energy and speed than your average 21-month-old. Aside from his already rough beginning of drug exposure, we know little to nothing about his bio family and their genetics. So he could be more hyper just from experiences that I don’t know of.”
People who don’t know Rachel’s story always jump into the wrong conclusion. It’s sad to notice that most people prefer to trash others instead of understanding their reasons.
Yes, Rachel once judged parents who put their kids on leashes. She had the opportunity to see a couple leading their kid on a leash at Disney World a decade ago. Well, life teaches us a lesson, and Rachel learned it the hard way.
“My child runs faster than me,” Rachel explained. “Due to scar tissue from my hysterectomy, I do have trouble running sometimes to keep up with him. Let it also be known, I religiously ran races and ran every day before my surgery. So it’s not a lack of laziness.
My child also hates to be confined, whether it’s a car seat, high chair, stroller or shocker, a shopping cart. I use Shipt more often than I should because it is incredibly hard to go out with him alone sometimes. But, guess what, life doesn’t always work that way and we have to go out and get things done.”
Rachel went through a nightmare on July 11, 2019. It was the worst day of her life. Her heart was broken to bits.
“But today, today was worse. We went to Target and we wore his backpack and he did AMAZING. He was HAPPY, LAUGHING, SMILING, and yes, running, but he was close to me.”
Five women were staring at Rachel and her stares were full of questions. The poor mom was so uncomfortable that had to grab her items and rush back home.
“I don’t know why women feel the need to judge and mom shame so often. What works for your child doesn’t necessarily work for mine. I’m glad your little Lucy is perfect and never has meltdowns. My child isn’t talking yet and we have a communication barrier. He attends occupational and speech therapy and he is THRIVING. He is such a happy, beautiful little boy with A LOT of energy.”
Rachel didn’t write her post because she wanted attention. She is trying to raise general awareness and encourage others to be less judgmental. Putting a kid on a leash is sometimes the only way to do things.
“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. It takes a village to raise a kid and my village rocks.”
Backpack leashes have been part of a heated debate for years. Doctors are more worried about the potential injuries rather than the “morality” of the whole practice. Kids are unique and full of energy. It’s up to parents to find what works best for their kids. Some parents are free to finish their daily tasks without a problem while others struggle to control their kid’s temper.
Are leashes safe?
There haven’t been any reported cases of injuries caused by leashes. One thing stands for sure. Leashes don’t substitute proper supervision. Leashes may not be harmful but they may not prevent injuries too.
“We don’t have data on injuries associated with the leashes, but we also lack information about why parents use them, and what any benefit might be,” says Benjamin Hoffman, M.D., F.A.A.P., chair of the injury prevention council at the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
Dr. Hoffman doesn’t like the idea of putting kids on leashes. He is concerned about the risk of choking, entanglement, or even a head injury.
“I would rather see a child in a stroller than on a leash,” the doctor said.
Dr. Adam Spanier from the University of Maryland School of Medicine sees things from a different perspective. Leashes may be a helpful alternative for parents if handled properly.
“It’s a personal decision,” he said. “This might be a product for a child that tends to wander off if not closely supervised, for crowds to avoid getting lost, for a child with developmental delays, and for children with impulse control issues.“
Parents should opt for harnesses or backpack-style leashes. Wrist-held or hand-held leashes should not be an option. Parents should also check the harness product on the Consumer Product Safety Commission and check the manufacturer’s manual before using the product on their kids.
“I am not specifically endorsing leash use,” the doctor warned on the possible injuries. “There could also be some psychological distress, depending on the child’s age.”
This information may be useful for each and every person out there. Judging parents is easy, and most people do that really often. Being informed is really important and it can protect you from uncomfortable situations. Mom-shaming never helps.
Sadly, moms like Rachel have to deal with all the judgemental stares coming from people who know nothing about Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.