Bad For Babies?

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Day care may prevent certain children from establishing a healthy relationship with their parents, a new study suggests.

The results show the more time fussy, irritable infants spend in day care, the less likely they are to develop a so-called secure attachment with their mothers. A secure attachment means babies are at ease exploring their surroundings, but can still seek comfort from their mom when they need to—they are not clingy or aloof.

From a glass half-full perspective, the findings also mean irritable infants do better when they’re mostly cared for by their parents or other family members.

I am shocked. Shocked, I tell you.

“People have always thought of irritable, difficult babies as being more likely to have poor outcomes if they have stresses,” said study researcher Beth Troutman, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Iowa.

A professor! Of psychiatry no less! You know what this means. Permission. It is permitted—if you can afford to think it—to have the thought, Hmm, baby might be better off with mother. What a concept.

“But the other side of that is that they’re more likely to have good outcomes if they have more positive supportive environments,” Troutman told LiveScience.

I just love science, don’t you?

Am I a traitor to the Women’s Movement, or whatever it is called now, or what. Who can keep up. But pay attention, this is so full of irony, I can’t hardly stand it.

Point being, WTF? Did we not, as a gender, work our butts off to have offices? No, really, I remember distinctly, that was the first Big Hope. The few women who had reason to already have an office, ooh, we were so jealous. It wasn’t long before that envy reached critical mass, and entrepreneurial women were starting little businesses, women artists were renting studios …

So the pitiful point wasn’t even to have a career—sorry, young ‘uns, but it wasn’t. The point was to have legitimacy in a world, ca. 1975, in which mothers at home with children did not. No way. A decade later, women still swam in that same amorphous sea that Betty Friedan had called The Sickness With No Name. Perhaps one of the largest mass attacks of existential nausea ever … and the cure suddenly struck like wildfire. Get out of the house! Find a legitimate reason to keep hours. Somewhere else.

Also, of course it was a way to stand up to your husband. I must attend to this, I have a meeting (a meeting!) at 4:00. Deal with it. Okay, maybe that last part wasn’t really voiced, but I’m talking about the cusp here. In no time at all, we were giving the poor sods holy hell about D&D. Diapers and dishes, the two places husbands took their time-honored stand. Plenty of men bragged about never changing a single diaper, ever. Oh those were the days, right, guys? Old guys?

I feel I must, for purely narcissistic purposes, state that I was a housewife at sixteen, and one with no small power of observation. Not that there was anything to do with those powers, then or for a long while. I expect the sea of nausea was, in fact, made up of talents subverted to the reigning paradigm, a form of suffering not particular to women.

But here we are. The great wheel turns, having gathered much sorrow and much wisdom in its slow revolving. But the question remains unanswerable, in any general way. I could say, Look at your lifestyle, but sometimes I fear that the heart’s cry to be at home, with your baby, with your small children … it is so small a voice … has been drowned out by the siren call of shoes. Of looking good, speaking of narcissism. Of being on top of your little world. For what profiteth a woman if she gains the whole world …

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2 thoughts on “Bad For Babies?

  1. I can’t believe I’ve been slow to get to such an important post. As always, there’s just something about the way you write it–almost any it–that prompts me to have about a zillion things I want to say to you.

    Here’s the main stuff, all in a sorry jumble: If only it weren’t now necessary for most women to work to provide basic support to their families–that little issue of $.77 vs $1.00–with so many men unemployed or under-employed. Someday, when we are more financially stable again (if the UberCons don’t rule the world), we women might have another shot at discovering how to nurture our hearts, our children, and our non-maternal talents…an acceptable and even culturally supported sequencing of priorities and roles. Or maybe that’s a pipe dream. Or maybe it isn’t. Gosh, I wish my daughter could afford to have another baby, since she wants one and she has such fabulous babies, but the economy is so totally fucked up and it is breaking hearts right and left–big ones, small ones, mine, and yours.

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  2. It’s amazing the perspective a bit of aging gives one isn’t it. As you said, the great wheel turns. What’s old always becomes new again. After all we still have Rome’s bread and circuses with us today, just a shiny new paint job on it, and everyone (well most at least) still stare at the shiny bauble spinning in front of them and believe it all. But what the hell do I know – I just spin a different tale. :)

    Good one Zo

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