Friday, 23 September 2011

Domesticated Dogs and Free-Range Children

Free-Range Kids in Wikipedia.
Free-Range Kids on the interwebs.
Child Restraint "Leashes" Harness, Backpack.
And I assume you all know what a domesticated dog is:

Are we all up to speed now? Good.

One of the recent battles in the so-called "Mommy Wars" is the use of child restraint harnesses that just so happen to resemble a common pet leash. Though not worn around the child's neck, these products come in a myriad of other styles such as backpacks, shoulder-to-shoulder figure-eights, chest straps, and wrist straps. The general idea is to rig one end to your offspring and the other to yourself, thereby preventing your child from being more than three or so feet from you at all times.

Who would have thought they would create such kerfuffle?

Those in favour of child leashes argue that they offer a measure of protection for a child who may decide to bolt into traffic, or a safe option for a willful toddler who refuses to hold mommy's hand. They report they're also a great alternative to popular-but-isolating baby containment devices such as strollers or wagons, allowing the child to be a part of the world and getting excercise instead of passively watching the world go by from his little wheeled bubble.

Those opposed say leashes are for dogs.

I say the gap between how we treat our children and how we treat our pets is rapidly shrinking - and in some ways reversing - so if you're getting bent out of shape about this you'd better just go lie down now.

From a product standpoint, there's a noticeable overlap:

They make diapers for dogs.

They make chew toys for babies.

They make strollers for dogs.

They make crates (er, cribs) for babies.

They make outfits for dogs.

They make puppies for babies.

They make bottles for dogs.

They make fur coats for babies.

And judging from the products on the market, there's a distinct trend of treating the dog (pet) like a child. There's even a term for it: Fur Babies.

Directly juxtaposed with that, there's the movement for what's become known as "Free-Range Kids" (see links at start of post). In free-range parenting, much like free-range chicken raising, ones chicks are encouraged to roam unrestricted. Sometimes metaphorically. Anyway, the point is that your dog is penned up and your kid is loose, or the dog is in a stroller and the baby's on a leash, or one of them is wearing the others' booties. They're also probably both drinking from the same water dish and likely sharing a biscuit.

This whole argument is like asking "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?"

If you treat dogs like people then you shouldn't be surprised to find yourself treating people like dogs.

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