Oregon dad blogger Clint Edwards took to social media to defend his choice to put his 3-year-old daughter Aspen on a leash while at a local farmers market last week.
“The real difficulty with having a wild child is that you are damned if you do, and damned if you don’t,” Edwards said in a Facebook post. “Because the fact is, if I didn’t put Aspen on a leash while at amusement parks, the zoo, a crowded mall, or the farmers market, she’d be the lost child announced over the intercom. She’d be the kid popping up in every Facebook feed for wandering into a shopping center parking lot, unattended. She could be the child climbing into the tiger cage. Because I can’t, for the life of me, keep her from moving.
“Her curiosity is incredible, and for only having a 12-inch stride, she moves faster than any Olympian.”
Despite getting “dirty looks” from strangers, Edwards says the leash is necessary to keep his “curious” daughter safe — and since posting his rant online, he has heard from parents all over the country singing the same tune.
“People have been like, ‘Thank you for sharing, we have to do this too to keep our kids safe!’ ” Edwards, 34, tells PEOPLE. “And I’ll keep doing it until she grows out of it, she’s a wild child!”
Edwards — who is also dad to 7-year-old Norah and 10-year-old Tristan, says he and his wife, Melodie, have received only a few negative comments in response to the post.
“And when we do, other parents pounce on them in the comments saying, ‘You don’t understand,’ ” he says. “For parents that [don’t get the purpose of] the leash, they’re lucky enough to have a timid child or one who is not super active like my daughter.”
A student services worker at Oregon State University, Edwards adds that he is judged both for using the leash and for not using the leash.
“My kid is going to get into stuff and run off no matter what I do or regardless of training you give them,” he explains. “Then people judge you for that too, it’s a damned if you do and damned if you don’t situation.”
This is the exact point Edwards hoped to drive home in his post.
“I’ve written about leashes before and about the dirty looks we get using them, but we’d get even dirtier looks if we lost our child!” he says. “I’m just glad this [post] took off because it’s so relatable.”
Edwards has even received pictures from parents saying they support the use of leashes.
“Before you’re a parent you think, ‘I’m never going to use a leash, it’s degrading,’ ” he says. “It’s the exact same thing with a minivan, like ‘I’m never going to drive one,’ but you do. You use it and it’s great!”