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Is it a social class thing? Snobbery or Common as muck

170 replies

wondergirl · 11/07/2004 22:26

Hi people.

Please give your opinion on this that follows matter, particularly if you are not from the areas mentioned in this discussion, as myself and many others would like to get a wider opinion. I hope no one will be affended by the content of this discussion. I have not stated any of the strong opinons against dummy use that were given during the questionnaires, to limit any offence.

A couple of months ago, I participated in a class project as part of my A-level sociology combined psychology, which looked at the use of children's comfort items and societies view/opinion of them.
My group within the class was allocated the task of looking at the use of dummies/soothers. Other groups within the class looked at other comfort objects like beakers, favourite toy, babies bottle, security blanket etc.
As an whole the class research showed very interesting results, but it was the DUMMY issue that generated most discussion.
It seemed almost everyone (parents and none parents) surveyed had an opinion on dummies being used as comfort items, more so than any other comfort item.


Our group carried out a questionaire for one day in each of the following town/city centres; Leamington Spa, Nuneaton, Coventry and Sutton Coldfield (All midlands based).
On average, we surveyed about 100 individuals of all ages and sexes from each location.
When the results from all locations were collated thses were the main findings:

67% of people surveyed thought children with dummies in public looked common.

70% of this 67% were themselves not parents (if this is of any interest).

87% thought children allowed to have dummies beyond the age of three or four years old in public not only looked awful, but also suggested poor parenting.

95% thought dummies/soothers used with babies was perfectly fine, but not with toddlers.

59% thought dummies are used more for the parents convienience rather than the childs.

Of the 59% above with this opinion, 76% claimed they felt dummy use was more commonly seen with single mums, with a few kids in tow where dummies are dished out for a quite life, instead of attention.

47% said they associated dummy use more with lower class than middle and upper class parents.

92% with this opinion above were not themselves parents.

I do not know about you lot reading this, but at the time I found these findings rather shocking, I never knew people were so hung-up with a little piece a plastic and rubber called a dummy, that a child sucks on for comfort!!!!!

With regards to these findings, my group and the rest of the class were particularly interseted in why so many people thought dummies were vile and common, and why they associted them with less financially well off families!

Our group tried to find out if there was any real grounds to support this class divide concerning dummy use.
Our group split up and spent a whole day at three different locations to monitor the freqeuncy of observations for children with dummies.
(I will not disclose the locations used for this monioring, as I do not wish to affend anyone).

At each location we tryed to record the total amount of children with and without dummies (told you they were crude measures). Additional to this we trawled round each location collecting dummies off the floor (the ones you see lying around that get lost by kids).

It seems this crude monitoring kind of supports this opnion about dummy use being higher in lower class society when compared to upper class.

This time the general findings were:

It was observed that there was definately more kids with dummies at the designated lower class location compared to middle and upper class locations.

It was also observed at the lower class location that the ratio of children to parent/caregiver was higher than the other locations.

Children up to the age of 4 or 5 (estimation) were commonly seen with dummies at the designated lower class site, but virtually absent from the other locations used.

The total number of lost dummies found at the end of the day at each location was; lower-class 27, middle-class 9 and upper-class 2.

So after all this, what is my humble opinion on the matter?

Well I myself am not happy about dummies being associated with common families, as I myself had a dummy when I was a child, and today many of my friends and family use dummies with thier children, and I would regard them as being far from common as muck.
Its obvious from this kind of research and general postings on the issue on web-sites like this one, that it is dummy use with older children in public that is frowned upon most, and given that more older children from lower-class families are seen with dummies increases this class divide over dummies.
I myself hate to see children in public over 3 and 4 years old with a dummy, as it does look awful, but I do not think the parents are common or poorer caregivers than parents of dummy-less children.
Unfortunately most things in life get abused and I feel dummies are certainly one them.
Dummies if used correctly are good for both the childs and parents physical and mental well-being, but if abused it can turn into a vulgare and disgusting habit, which most society seems unable to tollerate.


OP posts:
Pagan · 13/07/2004 19:26

Great comments - I'm inspired to care less about what others think of me and not bother about them either.

eddm · 13/07/2004 19:38

Oooh expatkat, this thread started out insulting parents of dummy-users for being common; now you've just insulted people who object to dummies for being common but denying their origins in a desperate attempt to become middle-class; where is it all going to end?
Think I said on one of these threads, intellectually I don't object to dummies (esp. since becoming a parent) but at some instinctive level my reaction is 'yuck, how common'. Not that I would ever criticise a fellow parent for using dummies, just seems to be intrinsic dislike, possibly acquired from my own mother.
Yet my family is completely confused with regards to class (maybe so confused we are actually classless).
It's full of upper-middle class people marrying lower-middle or working-class people and others who lose all their money and become working-class/ make loads of money and become middle-middle (definitely not nouveau in a Footballer's Wives sense). So no idea what I am.

expatkat · 13/07/2004 20:08

It would be hard for me to call dummy critics "common" because I don't properly understand what the word "common" means. If anything I'm guilty of the more American notion that class is something within and not linked to money or family or status. An example of class being meaningless (in my eyes) is my step father-in-law, who belongs to the Rotary Club in Windsor and goes to Conservative Party functions and cares a great deal about his crystal and china and antique silver, and maps out little "seating charts" when he has us for dinner, but then looks suspiciously at how much ham I'm eating because he's pathologically mean. He thinks he's pretty high on "class," but stinginess over a few slices of ham when you have heaps of money=not classy. And you can be sure that he looks askance at dummy use, though he's too polite to say but nevertheless says it. Same goes for his views on my supposed "permissiveness" (common too?) in not smacking my children.

Making anyone feel bad or inferior=not classy. That's what I'm getting at when I bring up class and dummies.

Pagan · 13/07/2004 21:33

I don't like class systems. This is where I agree with jampot on the what you believe in rather than the materialistic things you have. I try not to put myself in any class. Others would say I was born working class and would now be considered middle class but that embarasses me. Like Expatkat so many 'middle-class' people I know are so mean but 'working-class' folk would give you their last.

Interestingly there was a recent report in the paper which showed that poorerareas tended to give more to charity and be more charitable than affluent areas.

Case in point - pushing a new born around in a pram traditionally attracted friends and total strangers to put a coin in it for luck. My dh had never heard of this before, neither had any of his pals/siblings. They came from a well to do area whereas I came from a poorer area. My dh can be pretty snobby but as tight as two coats of paint.

posyhairdresser · 13/07/2004 22:18

I say that if your child finds it comforting then let them have a dummy.
I am a "posh" ex-public schoolgirl BTW and very anti class divisions and anything that perpetuates them...

misdee · 13/07/2004 22:36

if a child wants to suck on a dummy let them, if they want their thumb let them! if they want to drag a grubby bit of blanket about, let them, if they twirl their hair round their fingers for comfort then let them!! I have no idea what 'class' i am, and tbh i dont care. dd1 had a dummy, still does at times, (has been feeling poorly the last few days so had one last night to help her settle and she is 4), dd2 had a dummy till she was about 6months old, spat it out one day and didnt want one after that.

smellymelly · 13/07/2004 22:58

I hate how dummies look, but used them for both my kids! I did what I could to keep them happy, (of course still do!) they have towels as comforters too. It isn't about what other people think, but about what keeps you sane.

It doesn't matter in the least what class I am considered to be... What a load of tosh.

nightowl · 14/07/2004 04:16

well i put my comment on the chat thread the same as this one, had a complete rant and killed it so perhaps i best leave it alone!! it was just something along the lines of anyone that looks down on someone for using a dummy, get a life. its no indication whatsoever of class, parenting skills or anything else. i also object to the thought that a single mother will shove a dummy into a child's mouth to shut it up. if someone has never been a single parent they im sorry but they do not know how hard it is to have a baby that screams 24/7 and no-one to help, and if they want to try a dummy then so what? i think a tired, angry, despairing mother is probably a lot worse. not all of us single mothers had a baby to get on the council list and want to shut it up so we can enjoy fags and trisha...oooh starting to rant again..sorry. just get so het up about people looking down on single mothers.

FairyMum · 14/07/2004 09:46

Well said Nightowl! I get so annoyed every time single mums are "attacked" like this.

Rhubarb · 14/07/2004 14:28

Damn, missed it again!

Fio2 · 14/07/2004 14:32

tallulah i for one have been grateful of your views and comments on various threads so dont get huffy an you havent offende me at least

tallulah · 14/07/2004 17:35

Thanks, people, particularly Coddy for your email- much appreciated.

curlysue · 14/07/2004 19:21

Never thought consciously about it before but I think I do see dummies as a 'common' thing!!!!! Sorry!!!!!!

Never used one, never occurred to me to!!!

eddm · 14/07/2004 19:30

Nightowl, completely agree with you about people looking down on single mothers (my own mother was one). Funny how no-one ever looks down on the fathers, isn't it? Part of the Daily Mail culture of spite, I reckon. And given that class has been an issue on this thread, I might as well throw in my theory that this sort of snide atttitude is often about newly-middle class insecurity; having to have someone to look down on in order to emphasise your distance from your origins.
Expatkat, your FIL may think he's high-class but from your description he sounds pretty middle-middle to me .

kbaby · 14/07/2004 20:12

ok ill probably be shot for saying this but i link dummies with lower classes. i dont know why perhaps its because where i live it always seems to be people with a number of children or young mums who use them. however, my dd is a sucky baby and hasnt quite got the hang of sucking her finger. she also cries a lot and so i gave her the dummy which comforts her. i had to do a lot of thinking about it and tbh i am ashamed to admit i give her one encase people think badly of me. i know this is silly and since dd's had one i now try to view them differently. i had a dummy until i was 4 and consider myself middle class.

LadyP · 14/07/2004 20:47

I'm like others on here - hate catagorising myself. Definately agree that it is about your morals/ethics.
Me - Born working class (and VERY proud of it), have 'middle-class' trappings, including living in the Suburbs - because I can afford it courtesy of my and DH's(born and bred middle-class liberal) hard work, speak well, went to uni, but still get wound up about 'class' issues, such as the Daily Mail ALWAYS slipping the words 'middle-class' into their reports - whatever they happen to be discussing, whether it is relevant or not, usually not !
Anyway, I digress - dummies!
Anti before DS born. Ds had one after 9 months for about 4 months. Got rid of it because it kept falling out at night and I could not be bothered to keep getting up and putting it back in.
However, what I don't like is older children with them - no excuse IMO and nowt to do with snobbery!! Just don't like seeing it.

eddm · 14/07/2004 23:09

Back in the early days of this thread, someone posted stating that dummies reduce the risk of cot death. Looked it up with the Foundation for the Study of Infant Deaths and it isn't true, but taking a dummy away from a baby who is used to one is, apparently, linked with an increased risk of cot death. Here's the link:

frogs · 14/07/2004 23:21

Oh kbaby, life's too short to worry about stuff like that. Plus, having a baby is the biggest reality check you'll ever have.

I used to think kids with snot running down their faces was an underclass-y sort of thing, until my first child had a cold and I realised that short of standing next to her with a special nose attachment for the hoover, there was no way round it.

motherinferior · 14/07/2004 23:29

I'm bloody glad I never knew that when I took dd2's away (re-plugging a wailing babe in the small hours was taking away what little sanity remained to me).

colinsmommy · 14/07/2004 23:34

I've never seen it as a class thing, but before I had children, the 2 signs to me of a bad parent were a baby running around with a pacifier (sorry, I guess I mean dummy) and a runny nose. Oh, how wrong I was. My son still has his at 10 months, but it is only for when he is in his crib and ready for sleep. He won't have it for much longer, though, because I still can't stand seeing older toddlers walking around all day with one.

princesspeahead · 14/07/2004 23:35

can I just say that if one is truly upper-class one couldn't care less what anyone else thinks about anything one does. and similarly one generally doesn't make judgments about others. one just sails along doing what works for one on the basis of "anything for a quiet life". which includes using a dummy if a child screeches for one. and not using a dummy if a child doesn't need one. that is the benefit of not suffering from any form of social insecurity whatsoever, which is a happy side-effect of being upper-class.

or so I am led to believe.

Angeliz · 14/07/2004 23:37

lol PPH

Slink · 14/07/2004 23:47

when dd was born my mum tried to give dd a dummy because she cried and she said it would be the only way for me to get rest...1. DD had colic and 2. refused to take it.

She has and at 3 still has a blanket. I had a dummy and do not see myself as a lower class.

When i used to work with Social Services i found alot of mothers (these were 13yrs up to 19yrs) would use dummies but that would be to "shut the children up" i dont like seeing toddlers out with dummies as i think it restricts there speech.

Pixiepod · 15/07/2004 00:25

Embarassing confession here but... neither my sister or myself were given dummies as babies (not out of snobbery, they just didn't do dummies or blankets) and so... very occasionally... I still do it (blush) and so does sis. At least dummies can be left for the dummy fairy whereas thumbs can't be left for the thumb fairy . As for common or not, IMHO its more important to consider whether it's necessary or not and perhaps it's more a necessity for babies, than young children who can be comforted in more ways than babies.

nightowl · 15/07/2004 07:07

ds used to go to my in-laws while i was at work and they hated me with a passion. we would disagree on parenting issues (i.e. they wanted to keep him a baby in lots of ways and weren't keen for him to develop) every time i tried to talk to them they would threaten me with "well if you dont like it, find some other childcare" knowing that at the time we couldnt. the crunch came when i decided it was time we got shut of the dummies. i talked to him about it and said he was getting a big boy and maybe would he just like to have it at night for a while. i also said that we would give his dummies to little babies that hadn't got any. he was delighted at this and happily agreed. we had a fortnight's holiday and this all worked absolutely fine. when we got back home and he went back to them they started a row with me about it and i finally lost my temper when his grandad came running over to our car and screamed at me "you're making that child's life hell". four years of resentment just boiled over and i told him precisely where to get off, packed my son's things and never took him there again. if i had left it to them, he would still have a dummy now at age 7 (and thats no exaggeration). oh and come to think of it...i wasnt a single mum then when i first gave my child a dummy.

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