Originally Posted by jlobe
There are so many shades of grey to this conversation, I'm really confused....
For us.... depends on age, depends on store, depends on risk, depends on my mood and ability to get things done, etc. There is no absolute answer to this one.
I do want to be considerate of other people and other shoppers; however, I am usually shopping by myself with two young children and quite frankly, I am a consumer of this store and others also need to be aware of my circumstances as well.
I'm getting confused here, too. I think there is confusion over what exactly "explore" means (does it mean a child off on her own? does it mean another parent or guardian going along with? does it mean right beside mama/daddy shopping? does it mean treating property gently and putting things back where they belong? what kind of store are we talking about here--a crowded one, a grocer with lots of shopping carts, one that has lots of walking space and no carts, one that isn't crowded, etc.?). Our dd had huge sensory issues as an infant and young toddler (it wasn't until she was 18 months old that she could ride in the car for more than 10 minutes!) so the shopping cart was just never an option (she literally would have cried and screamed the entire trip, something that were ideologically against). We also could not carry her in a sling while shopping (again, sensory issue here) nor could we simply just carry her in arms, as she *had* to touch, explore, look at everything. A tether was also not an option, due to her sensory issue of hating being confined by anything. We often, for these reasons, just did not take her to the store until she was closer to 1.5 years old. At that point, we would take her and let one of us stay close to her at all times and talk to her about all of the interesting things she was seeing, while the other shopped. We did this until she was nearly 3 and would consent to ride in a shopping cart, which is what we now do at the grocer. At other stores, like department stores or places like Target, we sometimes use a cart (if we're just going to be quick), or let her explore a while on foot (if we're going to be a while). DD has never run in a store (even as a little) and she has always been paranoid of breaking anything, but that's just her personality.
My point in listing all of this is to point out that even in one family with one child there is no "concrete" answer to how to handle this situation. At different times there are different measures and different reasons for those measures. I have no issue with anyone who says that for their family they feel it's best to do (or not do) xyz, but I dislike blanket, generalized statements, such as "parents who let their children walk around outside of a shopping cart are being inconsiderate of other shoppers," (I'm not quoting anyone in particular here but rather the feeling I've gotten from some posts). Perhaps, the only alternative was to let the child scream in the shopping cart and I'm not sure that would have been more considerate to either other shoppers or to the child. There are just so many reasons why parents choose one action over another. I know there are parents out there who don't put a lot of thought into what they do, but there are also many parents who do.
For our family, we sometimes let dd explore at her own pace, sometimes not (depending on the store, how much time we have, etc.). Also, we are always with her (to make sure things don't get mishandled and to ensure her safety and that of other shoppers). I would not be comfortable letting her go out of eyesight at age 3, simply because I worry that she would get confused and upset if she couldn't find her way back to me. She's also still learning social courtesies, so I like someone with her to make sure she isn't in anyone's way and to help her ask politely if someone is in her way (the road goes both ways, I believe). I was nearly abducted as a child so although I try not to be paranoid it is something I think about, so my dd is less free-range than I'd like because of this. I wish that retailers and places of business would put more thought into making their establishments child-friendly (as in, having a play space, or keeping breakables higher up, having wide aisles, etc.). I realize that not every storekeeper can do this, especially small shopkeepers, but there are many larger retailers who could but choose not to. I just think the world would be a better place if people could focus less on dollar signs and focus more on community and experiences, and if people would have greater respect for children in particular. I agree with the poster who said that many people have such a negative view of children, as in believing the worst of them (that they will run around and break things, etc.), which is probably not the case for the majority of children out there.