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Do you believe the problems young adults are facing these days often have to do with how they were treated as babies?

Posted by on Jan. 8, 2013 at 2:44 PM
  • 4 Replies

'Ill-Advised' Baby Parenting Techniques Are Ruining Children, According to Preachy New Research

Posted by Linda Sharps on January 8, 2013 

Do you put your baby in a stroller? Does your baby have his/her own room? Does your baby consume formula in addition to or instead of breast milk? Do you ever stop touching your baby? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, well, I don't mean to alarm you, but ... U R DOIN IT WRONG.

That's according to research presented recently at a symposium at the University of Notre Dame, anyway. Darcia Narvaez, Notre Dame professor of psychology, says that "ill-advised" modern parenting techniques may be affecting babies in a variety of alarming ways, creating -- are you ready for this?? -- an epidemic of anxiety and depression, aggression, delinquency, and decreasing moral behavior.

Way to destroy America, you heartless stroller-wielding moms.

Narvaez says that "life outcomes for American youth are worsening," and that early parenting practices can be tied to adulthood personality, physical health, and moral development. She says as a society, we're moving away from ancient techniques like breast-feeding infants, being responsive to crying, having multiple adult caregivers, and providing almost constant touch for babies ... and it's affecting our children:

Ill-advised practices and beliefs have become commonplace in our culture, such as the use of infant formula, the isolation of infants in their own rooms or the belief that responding too quickly to a fussing baby will 'spoil' it.

Hmm, interesting that she describes the notion of "spoiling" young babies by responding to their cries as a modern phenomenon ... being as how I've NEVER heard of any mom who subscribes to that theory. In fact, that was a relatively popular belief nearly 100 years ago.

But anyway, back to the other horrible modern practices. If you put your child in a stroller, you're denying him physical touch and the ability to interact with nature:

positive touch affects stress reactivity, impulse control and empathy; free play in nature influences social capacities and aggression

Oh, and if you're the primary caregiver? Well, you're screwing things up there, too:

a set of supportive caregivers (beyond the mother alone) predicts IQ and ego resilience as well as empathy.

In fact, we're failing on all fronts:

Instead of being held, infants spend much more time in carriers, car seats and strollers than they did in the past. Only about 15 percent of mothers are breast-feeding at all by 12 months, extended families are broken up and free play allowed by parents has decreased dramatically since 1970.

Like most research, I think there's probably something of value here, but it's buried in the presenter's opinion. The fact is, we don't live in harmonious cave-villages any more, where babies can be toted around all day and passed from person to person. We're busy. We've got errands to run, older children to take care of, and jobs to do. We live in a society where leaving children to "free play" can result in a freaking arrest, for god's sake.

As for me, I used formula, I put my kids in strollers, they had their own bedrooms, and they actually seem to have turned out pretty okay so far. Of course, they're still pretty young -- the jury's still out on what sort of adults they'll be. It's good to know if they do have problems later in life, it can ALL be traced back to their infanthood.

What do you think about this research? Do you believe the problems young adults are facing these days often have to do with how they were treated as babies?

by on Jan. 8, 2013 at 2:44 PM
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by on Jan. 8, 2013 at 3:11 PM

i believe that research and studies seem to change on a weekly basis.

one week it's healthy for you to let your baby CIO and then another week it's not healthy.

these so called professionals just can't decide what's good for our kids anymore.

i am at the point where they change way to much that it's causing me not to care as much as these professionals want me to.

i'll just do my own thing and leave it at that.

Lilypie Breastfeeding tickers

by Member on Jan. 8, 2013 at 4:18 PM

I do think that there is something to be said for the lack of free, child-led play without adult guidance. It seems like every toy needs to have direct "educational" value rather than open ended and creative.  As the kids get older they get put into structured sports as opposed to just picking teams in a sandlot.

I did nurse, use a sling, and co-sleep with our children when they were younger.   For me it was about the quality of my life and the priorities that I had.  I didn't follow any parenting guru spouting a philosophy.  I did what worked for myself and my children through trial and error.  By the way, I did use a stroller when it was needed, and eventually all of my children were sleeping in their own beds in rooms away from mine within a couple of years.  

Additionally, unlike the author, I DID experience people telling me that not letting my child cry more than a couple of minutes was going to "spoil" said child.  I knew moms that wholehearted believed in cry-it-out, and that you should never let your infant (under age one) "manipulate you (with crying) because that just trains them to not rely on themselves."  So yes, there are people who do believe in that theory.

Anyway, I also allowed them to play without my interference while observing from a distance from a very young age.  I was available but I didn't intervene when things weren't working. I didn't, and still don't, believe that "educational" toys trump creativity and toys that "do nothing". I never used a flash card or a workbook with any of my children and yet they all learned to read early.   I also never shirked away from letting my children experience boredom.  Additionally my husband was an active caregiver and I did include other adults into the lives of my children so that they could make connections beyond me and without me.

As for the question about the problems faced by young adults?  I wouldn't say it necessarily goes directly back to their infant-hood, but rather that the choices parents make set up a standard and a home culture filled with expectations (many unspoken) that can have farther and greater effects than they consider at the time.  When parents rush the work of creating distance and establish boundaries and structure before the bonding (as the child needs it) has taken place it could interfere with unseen developmental steps in the brain.  

We can say we are doing everything to bond with our children and that quality over quantity is what matters, but our children certainly can't tell us if their needs aren't being met.  Some kids are also more resilient by nature than others.  Again, we don't have a test that says this particular style of parenting is best for this child or that.  I think there is something to be said for wanting to create a culture that errs on the side of too much comforting, touch and bonding, than continuing down a path where we isolate children and ourselves  because we don't want to look "weak" or weird because we don't follow the norms we are surrounded by.

Lastly, while it seems that the "experts" frequently contradict themselves, the reality is that there is a lot of researchers approaching the same, and sometimes subtly different questions at the same time but not in conjection with each other. One releases their study today, another a month from now.  Depending on their sample size and diversity, personal agendas and the exact wording of the question asked, it may be that the seemingly same general question and data has different reselts and is reported on differently by the press who pick it up to make it "newsworthy". The reality is that as much as we want to believe in the validity of the scientific method, it is difficult to apply to the human condition through observation and assessment of the "facts" is often with bias and perceptions that can be separated from the observer.

by on Jan. 8, 2013 at 5:02 PM

I do know holding infants and small children - is important - I had some neighbors twins - about 4/5 they would fight over who got to sit in the porch swing just so they could sit on my lap and swing -

once there Mom found out - she was so mad - she claimed that cuddling her boys would make them gay - and boys needed to be strong - and learn how to be male

well - I never agreed but they were her children - so they had to stop coming over to play with my boys - what a shame

simple smileSandy562

by Anonymous 1 on Jan. 8, 2013 at 5:26 PM
I have no clue but there are so many more f'd up people in this world. More kids on meds, parents on anxiety and depression drugs. People on disability. No one deals with life any longer.
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