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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:
twiglett · 16/07/2004 23:54

message withdrawn

Angeliz · 16/07/2004 23:54

I am on the side of each to their own.

I think that the original question in this post ,(and the other 3 she started), was designed to provoke a reaction such as this myself!(and personally don't beleive people in the street would be so derogatory(sp) about something which shouldn't concern them).

My dd has a dummy to sleep at night ,(she's 3.5), i know LOTS on here wouldn't like it but c'est la vie, i'm sure i won't be haunted by it in years to come

I do think that this has got a bit personal however and very insulting!!

Angeliz · 16/07/2004 23:55

OOH, twiglett, i'm not stalking you
(You beat me there!!)

tamum · 16/07/2004 23:58

I hope so twiglett, I think saying you imagine someone else's children to be repulsive little freaks is pretty much against the spirit of mumsnet. The thing is that the cot death stuff is all a red herring- dummies could only possibly protect against cot death when used in sleeping babies, whereas all the "anti" posts on here have been about wide-awake toddlers.

popsycal · 16/07/2004 23:59

I think that it is a delicate subject and people who don't like dummies simply don't use them with their kids.

I had a dummy (for too long i suppose) then went on to suck my thumb (again for too long). DS has a dummy (was given it in special care at the grand old age of 3 days old) and he still has it now at almost 2. We try to limit it to sleep time but it does creep in to awake time too. He gets lots of comfort from it but as he gets older, I will encourage him to give it up. Not sure when that will be as yet.

Clearly, it is for some but not for others. But getting personal isn't nice.
Each to their own.

SoupDragon · 17/07/2004 00:05

Didn't see any insults until the "repulsive little freaks" comment Opinions which were clearly going to be poles apart from other peoples, yes, but they were all clearly voiced as opinions rather than "your child is repulsive because they have a dummy"

Hey ho, that's life though.

FWIW, I don't like dummies but I still had one just in case my baby was one who needed it and I needed it NOW.

aloha · 17/07/2004 00:06

You found it unpleasant did you? Well I find it pretty unpleasant to find my parenting choice - one that comforted my son, made him happier, certainly did him no harm, and, according to the huge weight of the evidence was actually protective against his dying of cot death - described at 'revolting', and 'disgusting' amoungst other things. But that, presumably is OK? Or to say without any evidence, that I am hindering his development? Or that you would be revolted by the way he looks? It seems to be the sensitivities are all one way. It's fine to say that breastfeeding or using a dummy is disgusting, gross, yukky, but if anyone posts the other way, it's shock horror all round.
I stand by my references - I have read the studies, not just a sentence on the UK sids website. I am not 'wrong' and it is 'true' - at least out of six major studies, five show a very strong (overwhelming in fact) association between dummy use and a massive reduction in cot death and NONE show an increased risk. I am SICK of reading on Mumsnet how 'disgusting' dummies are, how repulsive children are when they use them, and how they damage kids, are used to 'shut kids up' and are a substitute for cuddles, and therefore saying that anyone uses them is a bad mother. So I thought I would demonstrate just how offensive it is to be accused of poor mothering when you actually aren't harming your children at all. By the howls of protest, I think I've made my point.
In my next life I'm coming back with PPH's cast-iron insouciance.

ScummyMummy · 17/07/2004 00:07

I think imagining others' kids as repulsive little freaks happens only when people are very hurt and upset, perhaps? Certainly, I read aloha's comments in that light. Hope she and everyone else feels better soon.

aloha · 17/07/2004 00:09

And if someone posts to say they are repulsed by babies with dummies, that feels bloody personal to me.

SoupDragon · 17/07/2004 00:09

But Aloha, absolutely nobody said that YOUR child was repulsive. Nobody made a personal remark about YOUR child or said that you cared more about looks than your child's health.

twiglett · 17/07/2004 00:10

message withdrawn

aloha · 17/07/2004 00:11

And yes, it does upset me - it makes me so angry and upset I fill my posts with typos.

misdee · 17/07/2004 00:11

aloha, i too find it upsetting to see people saying that dummies look 'disgusting'. i even hated it when people used to look in the pram and go 'what u got ther disgusting bit of plastic in your mouth for, lets take it out' at which point dd1 would get very upset and scream and take ages to console.

babies have a need to suck, some mroe than others, if dd1 didnt have a dummy she would have been permantly sucking on my breast, her hands (and with ezcema thats not good) or anything else.

if this baby decides it wants a dummy or has a urgent need to suck, then i'll be introucing one, who cares what people think. after 2 kids i've now got a very tough (at times) exteriour and if anyone comments on my parenting choices then i just flounce off.

aloha · 17/07/2004 00:13

If I posted that I found red headed babies repulsive (which, obviously, I wouldn't), then I wouldn't actually be surprised that someone took that personally. And yes, I think the use of words like 'disgusting' are pretty disrepectful of other people's parenting skills/choices.

SoupDragon · 17/07/2004 00:18

There's a world of difference between a red headed baby and an inanimate dummy.

SoupDragon · 17/07/2004 00:19

And you did post that you believed someone elses children to be vile and repulsive and less acred for than your own.

SoupDragon · 17/07/2004 00:21

Off to kiss my replusive little uncared for vile creatures good night and go to bed

Hulababy · 17/07/2004 00:26

My Dd has a dummy. She is 2y 3m. her dummy is only used for sleep now but WHO CARES? And WHY?

My DD is a very bright, alert girl. Her speech is fantastic. Her general development is also great. She has no health worries. She has no emotional or social worries. She is a beautiful little girl who lightens everyone days (who know here and is important to us). Infact she is just great.

Am I common? Is my child mal-treated? Is my child vile? Is she disgusting? Are me and her DH?

I don't belittle other people's parenting choices. I feel that everyone knows what is best for them and their children. I don't actually feel that anyone else has the right to tell me how to bring up my child (unless she was actaully being mis-treated in some way).

I respect opther peoples choices, especially on a so-called parenting support site. It is a shame otherpeople can't have the decency to do the same

I am so so disappointed with Mumsnetters over this thread, and sadly not for the first time

Angeliz · 17/07/2004 00:30

Have to say, the most annnyonig line for me is:

'if abused it can turn into a vulgare and disgusting habit, which most society seems unable to tollerate. ',

WHY should society have to 'tolerate' what my dd chooses to have in her mouth anyway!!?????

I also can't see 'society' tolerating screaming kids any better!

tamum · 17/07/2004 00:34

Just for the record, I have never said anything negative about dummies. I never used them but I couldn't really care less whether anyone else does. I just don't like specious arguments.

hmb · 17/07/2004 00:35

Wow, just picked up on this thread!

Gena Ford on Steroids meets the stolen grape thread

eddm · 17/07/2004 01:45

If your line that you have read the studies 'not just a sentence on the FSIDS website' is another dig at me then I'm really sad, Aloha. All I did was post a link to a reputable charity; I'm terribly sorry I didn't read tens of studies beforehand but hey, I never claimed to be an expert on this, just posted a link to people whose job it is to analyse this information. And for the record, I never had a go at parents who use dummies.

jampot · 17/07/2004 02:03

I haven't read this thread for a few days but have just read over it now. One thing that screams out of it to me is why do people associate single parents with the lower classes? IMO a single parent is anyone who doesn't live with a partner (regardless of income, or status). The Duchess of York is a single parent.

I really think everyone's got their knickers in a twist over this - the whole point of Mumsnet is to pool and share ideas and opinions and not cast judgment over those opinions. We're not in the playground now!!

Tigerlillies · 17/07/2004 02:33

I don't care about dummies at all. Never used one can't be bothered with them. What does bother me is this insistance on this board to talk about lower class values. We are all individuals despite our location, age and financial situation. This talking down to apparent lower classes makes me feel rather embarrassed to be even reading this thread.
I have never seen such a made up pointless study in my life. So you went about counting dummies found on the floor, did you really? And what did that prove? That one area is tidier than another obviously.

ScummyMummy · 17/07/2004 03:12

Totally agree, Tigerlillies. I ignored these threads entirely for that reason when wondergirl first posted and only investigated again because I was surprised that they were consistently in active conversations.

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