Dad posts viral message to haters after proudly putting his kid on a leash

This story originally appeared on Babble and is reprinted with permission.

The age-old saying "You're damned if you do, damned if you don't" applies to many choices in life -- especially when it comes to parenting. And perhaps no one knows that one better than Clint Edwards, the Babble contributor and writer behind No Idea What I'm Doing: A Daddy Blog. Earlier this week, Edwards shared an image of his young daughter Aspen on a kid leash to show others just how true this statement is, and his post is now going viral for calling out one of the biggest parenting hypocrisies there is.

"We were at the farmers market," Edwards began. "No shame. I put this kid on a leash."

And then, he explained further -- though in all fairness, he shouldn't have had to: "She's a wild child, and this thing has already kept her out of the road and from sticking her hand in an ice cream machine, along with keeping me sane," he continued. But, as he soon explains, "the real difficulty with having a wild child is that you are damned if you do, and dammed [sic] if you don't," and the mere act of putting his kid on a leash - and keeping her safe in the process - has often led to countless stares and endless judgment from strangers.
But why?

Think about it: In the last year alone, we've all been rendered heartbroken by the many tragic headlines involving small children -- stories about children who wandered off, as they so often tend to do, and separated from their parents for mere seconds before landing in harm's way.

There was the shocking death of 2-year-old Lane Graves, who was killed last year by an alligator in Florida, and more recently the story of Charlie Holt, a 5-year-old who was accidentally crushed to death at a revolving restaurant in Atlanta. And we all remember Isaiah Dickerson, the 4-year-old who fell into a gorilla pit at the Cincinnati Zoo, which sadly led to Harambe the gorilla being shot and killed.

But for every parent who sends prayers or sympathy after hearing stories like these, it seems like there are two more who are all too quick to place blame on Mom and Dad.

We are told to let our kids explore and grow and find their independence in this world, while at the same time being told we shouldn't be helicopter parents. Yet the very second our kids get hurt, we are hung out to dry by sancti-parents around the world. The minute our kids - whom we should apparently never put on leashes -- act like kids, we are judged. We are instantly persecuted by parents who claim with confidence that they would "never let their kids do that." We just can't win.

Edwards, who is also the author of the bestselling parenting book This is Why We Can't Have Nice Things, first posted his story on Facebook May 27, where it has since been shared over 2,500 times. And no surprise, his brutal honesty is resonating with parents everywhere.

"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."

At the end of the day, Edwards says it's far easier to face the judgment of other parents than it is to lose a child.

"I'm going to do whatever I can to keep her out of danger, even if it means a leash," he ends, matter-of-factly. And I couldn't agree more.

Edwards is no stranger to telling-it-like-it-is on Facebook - just a few months ago, he went viral for getting brutally honest about the reality of toddler tantrums. But he doesn't pretend to have it all figured out, either. In fact, as his blog title suggests, he doesn't hold back when it comes to admitting he doesn't have a clue what he's doing. But let's be honest, do any of us really know what we are doing in this parenting thing? Aren't we all just fumbling through the dark, figuring it out, day by day, while trying to keep our kids out of cages at the zoo?

So thanks, Clint Edwards, for your refreshing honesty and above all, for doing your job in keeping Aspen safe. At the end of the day, that's really all that matters.

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