Ask Kari: What should I do if I disapprove of my friend using a harness with her toddler?

Dear Kari,

My best friend uses a harness with her toddler when we go to the mall, and I am having a hard time telling her that I feel like she is treating her child like an animal. We are very close, but I am confused by this parenting decision, and I don’t feel comfortable walking through the mall with her when she has her son on a leash. It’s just wrong to me. How can I tell her how I feel without ruining the friendship?

Confused BFF

Dear Confused BFF,

You are definitely in a tough position, as most people, even our good friends, do not appreciate receiving parenting advice that they did not seek out. I would gently remind your friend that she has other options when taking her son to the mall such as a stroller. You could also ask your friend in a genuine manner, when and how she determined that the harness was the best way to travel in public with her son. Doing so may offer you the opportunity to have a further conversation about your feelings and give her an additional viewpoint that she may be missing. Good luck.


As published in the December 2014 issue of Connections.


About Kari:

Kari O’Neill, MSW, LICSW, is a licensed independent clinical social worker and a resident of Issaquah Highlands.

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