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Kids Riding on Parent's Shoulders
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Kids Riding on Parent's Shoulders
I would like the opinions of other parents regarding allowing
kids to ride on dad's shoulders. My husband insists on doing
it, and I don't like it. He does it on crowded city streets,
in malls, at the park etc...; It makes me nervous and upset
whenever he does it and I've heard of kids being hurt and worse
from it. The way I see it, all he has to do it trip or have
someone bump into him and we have a potentially terrible
accident. Basically, I think it is foolish and unnecessary and
why do it? On the other hand, he sees nothing wrong and plans
to continue as long as the kid likes it and is small enough.
Anyway, I would like to know how other parents feel about
Life is dangerous, a little risk makes life exciting. If the dad is
strong enough and not clumsy then let him have a little fun.
Maybe say something like: ''watch for low hanging branches.''
Please don't make him feel bad for doing it, unless you want a divorce.
There are way more dangerous situations and we all need a little
excitement in our lives. concerned dad of teens
When my daughter was one, she was being carried on my husband's
shoulders when he was walking on an uneven gravel pathway. He slipped,
she started to slip, he grabbed tighter onto one leg, and it snapped.
She was in a cast for about a month and, fortunately, has no permanent
damage to that leg. But he never carried her on his shoulders again and,
when we've been in a position to, we've warned other parents about the
dangers of doing this. There are so many different ways things can go
wrong (another example -- I've seen parents accidentally bump their
child's head because they didn't realize their clearance level with
doorways changed). I understand your husband's cavalier attitude because
mine was the same way before the accident and he was battling my
worrywart mentality, but he has since changed his thinking. I hope this
I think this is not something to worry about. I think there are dozens
of ways that are much more likely for a kid to get hurt than falling off
of dad's shoulders. I'll bet riding in a car is actually more
dangerous, in terms of the probability of having an injury-producing
accident. Think of it this way: they won't ever dart out into a
street, or wander off and get lost, or pick up something and stick it
into their mouths -- or all kinds of other things you don't want your
kids doing. My husband keeps a good grip on my son's lower legs, and my
son knows the rules: no hands over dad's eyes or ears, no squirming
around or trying to stand up -- in fact, he usually keeps his hands on
top of dad's hands or shoulders -- and the whole arrangement seems fine
to me Karen
I have to admit that I rolled my eyes when I read your email.
Let your kids have some fun and relax a bit! It seems like dad is
enjoying it and the kids are as well and unless your husband has
difficulty walking and is prone to tripping, then I would relax a bit.
I am assuming that he is holding their ankles so that they don't fall
down, but if not, then I would expect him to do that for safety. Of all
the things to worry about in this world and the safety of your children,
this one seems just silly and I think our society has gotten so
over-protective of kids that we forget that they are just kids and need
to have some fun and get their knees dirty sometimes.
Relaxed mom of a happy and safe child
Hmm, I always liked having the kids ride on Daddy's shoulders.
That way I knew exactly where they were! My children are now too big to
ride on shoulders any more, but in all the years that they did so, my
husband never tripped or dropped them. But we did loose track of a
child in crowded situations twice! So I honestly don't think it's a
safety problem, I wouldn't worry about it too much. mama of 2 now-big
We used to carry our son on our shoulders a lot. (After all, a child
walking in a crowd or running around in a park or mall can get into
plenty of trouble too; frequently it's more safe to carry him.) But we
hardly ever carry our daughter that way -- because just in the few years
between their respective births, there has been an explosion in the
variety and quality of widely available back carriers! Now we use our
mei tais and Ergo carrier everywhere and wear one or both children on
Get your husband an Ergo. It can safely carry children up to 60 lbs.
He can give the kids a ''piggyback'' ride that is VERY easy and secure,
and much more comfortable for him than the shoulders, too. Holly
My husband once ''dropped'' our 2 y.o. on asphalt while he was carrying
him on his shoulders. We ended up at the E.R. Our son was fine.
Nontheless to say that no longer did he do it. Maybe your husband might
consider a baby carrier or hold child in his arms instead. m
What is the world coming to when Dads can't carry kids on their
shoulders? Dads do things that freak out moms sometimes but kids love
it. Actually I carry my child on my shoulders sometimes and I am a mom.
Duck we're going through the door.
As someone who has bouts of sometimes debilitating anxiety, I think I
hear something similar here. I know the anxiety is so real and so very
compelling, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's warranted. Kids ride
on their parents' shoulders all the time. Why do it? It's fun, it's
exciting, it's intimate, it's easy on the parent's body - there are a
lot of reasons to do it, especially in crowds! Are there risks?
Honestly, I've never heard even the slightest whisper of a warning
against shoulder- rides. Of course, take care - hold the child's legs
or support its back if it's very young, but I'd be shocked to find that
this is inherently more dangerous that carrying a child in your arms, or
letting a small child walk in a big crowd by itself.
I'd like to gently suggest you look into anxiety management strategies
or medication. I did, and I got a lot of relief, and my relationships
with others improved since I wasn't so consumed with worries and so
anxious to change their behavior.
Good luck with it.
a fellow anxious mom, but a shoulder-ride-giver!
My kids ride on my husband's shoulders (and to a lesser extent
mine) all of the time. I am 38 now and still have happy memories of
riding on my own father's shoulders oh so many years ago. The joy that
it brought me appears to be the same joy it brings my own children.
Your fears are valid ones. But, quite frankly, so many things that my
children do every day possess some element of danger -- climbing up the
ladder to the slide, swinging on swings, etc.
Additionally, in some of the situations your bring up -- walking along a
crowded sidewalk -- I would rather have my child under better control
than just holding hands as they can let go at any time and lord knows
what would happen to them next -just my two cents
How wonderful that your husband wants to be with the children and carry
them around in a traditional way that he himself may once have been
carried by a loving father (?) or friend.
In your situation I would probably own my anxiety, and then decide
whether it is so pronounced that I actually can't be around my husband
when he carries the kids on his shoulders. If so, I'd ask him not to do
it when I was around... and try to accept that, while bad things DO
happen... sometimes they don't happen, too... if your husband and child
are o.k. with this, please try to be brave and let them.
Not a big deal in my opinion. Never heard of or had any problems with
shoulder riding. Kids love it too
- Mom of 3 shoulder riders
just my 2 cents on this, as the mom of a 12-yr-old and a 6-year- old.
I've given my kids a ton of shoulder rides and we've never had any
problems. Kids love shoulder rides. Really, unless your children's dad
has a history of fainting, I don't think there is any risk to your
children. I still remember riding on my dad's shoulders and swimming on
his back, and I think for kids, riding on mom's or dad's (or any other
caregiver's) shoulders is fun and safe. I know a lot of parents, and
I've really never heard of kids getting hurt from riding on an adult's
I really hope you can get to the point of feeling OK about the kids
riding on their dad's shoulders sara russell
Both my husband & I have always carried/walked/run/galloped our kids on
our shoulders from the earliest time it seemed physically appropriate
for them. Our kids are now 3.5 yrs & 2 yrs. I find that carring on
shoulders to be a very nice & fun bonding time allowing me to touch &
talk with my kids. Also, I believe that having the kids generally out of
a stoller encourages them to explore the world more. (We hardly used a
stroller, but mostly used a sling, then a backpack until the kids were
able to walk.) Now our kids either walk or are on shoulders. I've never
thought that it might be as of a safety concern as you seem to feel it
is. I've never heard of any child being injured by being carried on a
We've never had a trip or an almost trip, but we do have to be careful
not to bonk a head which I think is the real safety concern over
falling. So, I don't think it's a real great safety issue. Moreover, I
think riding on shoulders provides great bonding time & simply being out
of a stroller encourages kids to explore. With all that being said, the
fact of the matter is, if it drives you crazy because you really think
your child could get hurt, your husband should NOT do it (at least while
you're around.) Debbie
In my opinion, it is very important for kids to play this way - and
especially w/ their dad. So what if there might be a smidgeon of risk.
I'd bet that every time you put your child in your car, it is much more
risky, statistically speaking, than this.
I broke my arm on the monkey bars, my sister on a tricycle, and I know
of 3 adults who have broken bones merely by walking around & stepping
off curbs. Just because there is possible way for someone to get hurt
doesn't mean one should stop ''play'' and having innocent fun.
Dad'll know to be extra careful w/ such a precious burden on his
shoulders, believe me.
I'm a dad who loves to put his daughter up on his shoulders.
She enjoys being taller than me and constantly points out that she is.
In terms of being dangerous, I think it depends on the child. My
daughter doesn't always like to hold hands, though she's pretty good
about it. On a crowded city street anyone that would bump into me would
definitely bump into her, I think that she's more at risk getting
trampled or inadverdently pushed into the street.
With her on my shoulders, I don't have to convince her of why the way
we're going is the best way, or to hurry up or slow down. It makes a
long trek through a busy parking lot into a quick, no fuss, super fun
part of the trip, and I think safer too. happy rider dad
I put my kids on my shoulders quite often. As a mom of 3 under 7, I
find it much easier to put my toddler on my shoulders than carry him in
my arms, when I'm walking quite a long way, or need to hold my 4 year
old's hand. I often use a stroller, but when I don't, my son is easy to
carry on my shoulders. I think it's safe, as long as I always hold his
feet with my hand(s). (I don't think it's safe to depend on the child to
hold on--the parent must ALWAYS be holding the child's feet) Heidi
I was very disappointed with the tones of the many responses to this
mom's totally valid concern. She is not being overly anxious; she's
being smart. Her husband should respect his wife's concern and be
grateful for her common sense. Have any of you ever interacted with a
child with a head injury? Probably not. Sorry to be a spoilsport, but
unless it's absolutely necessary, it's really stupid to do this. Is it
fun for many kids and their parents? Yes. Intimate? Yes, but if you do
not really, really need to do it, why take this risk? My Dad took me
for shoulder rides when I was little, but it is no where near the top of
my list for significant, meaningful memories. My #1 fondest memory: Dad
reading to me before tucking me into bed. Yes, life is
dangerous and risky, and it sucks to be cautious sometimes, but you are
I can empathize with your worries. It's so hard to love some one so much
and accept that something we have no control over could injur them, or
take them from us. But, that is life: it's risky and dangerous. Being
over-protective of our children is actually damaging to them in a
different way: emotionally and psychologically. I know, I have good
friends who have tremendous emotional problems as a result of their
As difficult as it is, it is EXTREMELY important to allow your children
to take those risks, those steps toward independence. So, let them climb
those trees, ride daddy's shoulders, put on roller-skates, and
experience the joy and excitement of stretching themselves and learning
what they are (and are not) capable of. Alesia
I carry my daughter on my shoulders all the time. And I'm Mom.
My daughter loves it, and I find it actually more stable than carrying
her in my arms. Plus I can do it for longer. It's especially good for
crowds, as she doesnt' have to get bumped. I have never fallen with her
on my shoulders, but I have fallen a couple of times while carrying her
in my arms. Maybe this is because I'm more careful or more stable when
she's on my shoulders, or maybe it's because of random chance... I'm
never completely certain what happened when I did fall (bad ankles?),
but it has absolutely nothing to do with whether she's on my shoulders.
In other words, I wouldn't worry about it if I were you. Maybe there's
some other reason that this bugs you, or maybe you need to learn to
relax a little. I'd also add that one thing I loved more than anything
as a kid was riding on dad's shoulders myself, and it was something that
didn't last as long as I would have liked it... I probably would have
been up on his shoulders as a teenager if he would have allowed it!
Hi, I am sure most people wouldn't worry about this - but I had a very
bad experience with my husband's father tripping over a raised paving
stone in the sidewalk...and dropping my three- year-old on her head. It
is an absolute miracle that she was, I think, undamaged apart from
bruising. It's the kind of thing you can't know for sure, with brain
effects at so young an age, if the child seems normal? She certainly
seemed to have no lasting effect anyway.
This was a Grandpa, not a Dad, and he was getting slightly less steady,
although only age fifty at the time - but I should never have let her
ride his shoulders, and never will again.
Yet my older son carries my child on his shoulders, and I trust him - he
is far more athletic.
This kind of play is so great for the child - but I would be careful to
think about who is doing it. Anon
this page was last updated: May 18, 2010
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