My feed

to access all these features

For free parenting resources please check out the Early Years Alliance's Family Corner.


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:
tigermoth · 17/07/2004 11:08

Aloha, I'm shocked that you could say parents don't care about their baby's health if their babies don't have dummies. I know you say you were making a point, but surely you're not saying all babies should have dummies whether they like it or not? what about he millions of babies who don't want dummies? what about responding to your individual baby's needs and desires?

I can see you'd be extremely cross about the general 'vile and disgusting' references, especially wondergirls original post, but still....I'm surprised.

tigermoth · 17/07/2004 11:11

agree with tigerlillies, hate people linking class and dummies.

Samcj · 17/07/2004 13:01

Ok, I'm not a mum yet but will be later on in the year(all being well). I have absolutely NO IDEA what it is going to be like, how I will feel, how DP will feel, how DB will be and feel. Basically the only way I feel able to manage this big and exciting change is to keep an open mind. To take it on like the labour itself, the best attitude seems to be an open and flexible one. I will give DB a dummy if I see fit. That, after all is what I feel parenting should be about, trying YOUR best and trying to understand what is best for YOUR child and providing it.

I'm starting to think about all the things I will want to teach DB, this thread has highlighted the whole tolerance issue!! The fact that everyone has the right to their own opinion and to take actions they believe are right, as long as they are not causing offence. Why do threads like this so often seem to cause such arguments? Why do posts have to be worded so strongly? Whenever I post I always worry that my words will cause offence and tend to think really carefully about posting things where I think this is likely, and try and include some positives too. Why can't others think a bit more carefully about the feelings their posts might evoke in others?

BTW, just to complete prove I am a freak, I don't think dummies, whatever their positives and negatives, look disgusting. In fact I think they can sometimes look quite cute!

Samcj · 17/07/2004 13:01

A nice big group hug might be nice as well...!!!

Batters · 17/07/2004 16:19

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Tinker · 17/07/2004 16:31

Wow, read this thread when it started and made a point of avoiding it when I could see it would blow.

My own 'disgusting' and 'revolting' parental choice was to choose to grow my little finger nail in order to efficiently pick out crusty snot. The baby's, not mine!

ks · 17/07/2004 16:35

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn

hmb · 17/07/2004 16:43

Tinker . Oddly satisfying I bet!!!

SoupDragon · 17/07/2004 16:53

Been thinking about this a lot. If someone said that they found breastfeeding disgusting and they thought it looked vile I would not be offended in the slightest. I would simply suggest that they not look and get on with feeding my child. I chose to bf for a year and I was confident and happy enough in my choice that I would know it was not me who had the problem but the other person. I say this as a person who worries a lot about what other people are thinking of me and as a person who can not bear the thought that everyone is looking at me and judging me.

I hate pink. I loathe and detest it. If I were to have a DD, I would not dress her in it. I would not, however, go up to someone and tell them their pink clad child was a repulsive little freak that frightens horses or suggest that they cared less for their child than I did for mine because they dressed them in pink.

Are you happy and confident in your choice to use a dummy? Then why give a stuff about what other people think? It's not your problem if other people don't like them. There's no need to hurl personal insults about to try and make a point.

katierocket · 17/07/2004 16:53

at the risk of adding fuel to the fire I can totally understand aloha's anger. This comment is one of the most judgemental thing I've heard on mumsnet

"I feel absolutely revolted at the thought/sight of dummies, & none of my 4 ever had one"
gosh, how clever of you . It just sounds so holier than thou

katierocket · 17/07/2004 16:58

I'm not sure that argument holds soupdragon, the kinds of comment I just picked up on are a lot more personal and suggest a judgement on a parents ability "wasn't I a great parent that none of my children needed dummies/to suck fingers"

tigermoth · 17/07/2004 17:04

Isn't part of the problem is because dummies are so public? OK some babies just use them at bedtimes, but many don't. Many controversial aspects of parenting - controlled crying, smacking, co sleeping, and even feeding ( breast, bottle, junk food, healthy food etc) can be done with some disrection if you so choose. If a child wants a dummy during the day, they don't care who is around.

hmb · 17/07/2004 17:08

To my mind we all need to keep hold of one vital fact when rearing children. You get what you are given! This cropped up in the very heated 'bitting' thread, where there was (in some posters minds) a degree of citicism of parenting skills going on.

If you have a child who is happy and will settle without a dummy then YOU ARE LUCKY! It is down to luck as to what sort of child got get. I had very unsettled kids would would not sleep, I tried them with a dummy and they wouldn't take to it, and still didn't sleep or settle!

We shouldn't be smug, most of this stuff is down to luck IMHO.

noddy5 · 17/07/2004 17:11

This thread is ridiculous!My ds had a dummy for the simple reason that it comforted him and helped him relax/sleep.There was no big psycho/social thought behind it .It was simply something we tried like we tried other things for other problems.It certainly had nothing to do with class and why would it?It is hard enough being a parent and juggling all the pros and cons of every issue without judging each other like this....CHILL OUT

MeanBean · 17/07/2004 17:12

I'm a bit amazed by the passions aroused by dummies, maybe because I've never been passionate about them one way or the other. But I don't see why it's wrong to use words like revolting or disgusting on a discussion thread - the adjectives weren't being applied to the children, they were being applied to the act. My children constantly do things which I find revolting, but it doesn't mean I find my children revolting. And if people aren't allowed to use those words, then what is the alternative? For them not to express their opinion? In which case, why have a thread on the subject?

But ISWYM about making the connection between non-dummy use = model parenting KatieRocket ? I can imagine that would be extremely irritating if you were a dummy user, and of course it?s daft. Agree with HMB, you get what you're given, some kids like dummies and some don't. Some like football and some don't. It's got nothing to do with parenting.

Davros · 17/07/2004 17:15

Meanbean, exactly the reason I haven't joined this thread before or dared to even read it! Strong opposing views do cause trouble although, in theory, that's part of what MN is for.....

littlemissbossy · 17/07/2004 17:18

Me too Davros, I haven't joined this thread because we all do things differently - that's life and life's too damned short to be shouting at each other about stuff like this ....

MeanBean · 17/07/2004 17:24

But that's what amazed me. Some things you know are going to be really controversial, but I had no idea that dummies were - I've honestly just never come across it, I didn't know they were this controversial. I knew thumbsucking was, because my DS does it and is always being persecuted about it, but I really honestly didn't know all this stuff about dummies and cot death and social class. The joy of Mumsnet...

SoupDragon · 17/07/2004 17:34

But katierocket, if you (and your child) are happy and confident in your choice what does it matter what someone else thinks?

Dummies aren't an issue of class or good/bad parenting any more than if a child latches onto a traditional teddy, an ugly green fluffy gonk or a muslin cloth. Does it work? Are you happy? What's the problem? Who cares if Mrs Poncenby-Smythe or Mr Brown thinks they look disgusting.

littlemissbossy · 17/07/2004 17:35

Yes MeanBean, The Joy of Mumsnet ... could be the title of their next book

katierocket · 17/07/2004 17:39

if you follow that argument to it's logical conclusion soupdragon you would say "why bother responding to any negative comment that someone may make" fair enough. but honestly I can't do that, if you can then good for you. I think tallulah's comments were judgemental. yes I can ignore it and think well who cares but I wanted to step up and say i think it was an arogant thing to say and i can understand why it caused aloha's anger.

obviously there are degrees in everything, some things I can ignore and think well who cares (and actually with this issue it really doesn't bother me that much) BUT I don't like the implication that someone is a better parent because their children "never had a dummy". I can't just let that pass.

codswallop · 17/07/2004 22:52

no I agree with soupy - of you are happy woht a dummy then what is the porblem?

I also thinkt hat the avoidanc e of cot death is not why people give their babies dummies

Hulababy · 17/07/2004 23:01

But my aruguement or disgust even with this thread now is not over whether someone uses a dummy. It is over intolerant attitudes

I am happy with using a dummy.
I am not happy with it being inferred I am a bad parent because of that.
I am not happy with my DD being classed as vile and repulsive because of it either.

Davros · 17/07/2004 23:29

I am usually more than happy to say my piece and disagree with people and.... maybe change my mind. But this was one I knew would cause great division and not worth it.

Batters · 18/07/2004 00:01

This reply has been deleted

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Please create an account

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.