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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:
hercules · 18/07/2004 00:23

Sorry but I do think wondergirls research is here to upset people. It really is a lot of nasty rubbish. I feel like giving dd a dummy and parking her in her pram outside her house.

If a baby likes to suck then it would be cruel not to give it a dummy.

Lol at the class thing. The baby doesnt know whic class it's born into. Noone i know who uses a dummy does it for any other reason other than a soother. All middle class as well.

I dont blame Aloha for getting p88ed off after reading some of the comments.

Plus wtf is a "common" family anyway? Someopnes being watcing too much harry enfield - Wayne and Waynetta.

tootie · 18/07/2004 01:01

I'm pretty new to this, but as my ds2 has a dummy at 3 and 1/2,I thought I'd join in.My ds1 wasn't interested in dummies and that was that.But ds2 made up for him, he LOVES his!I don't like him having one as I don't personally like them,but I'm finding it really hard to wean him off.Perhaps the reason this has been such an emotional debate is the fact that mums like me have kids who love them and they feel slightly uneasy giving them in the first place?It's nothing to do with class, just how they look in older one's faces.Does that make sense?

katierocket · 18/07/2004 01:08

batters - absolutely
it's one thing to say "be confident, who cares what others think" but if you are a new mother and/or nevrous and uncertain to hear "it's vile and disgusting" would be devastating.

my point was that tallulah's specific comments were judgemental and implied "I'm a better parent that those who use dummies"

I won't ignore that kind of comment and think "well I'll ignore it because what does it matter" if we follow that line of argument and didn't say anything or disagree then mumsnet would be a very quiet place.

SoupDragon · 18/07/2004 01:18

But did anyone openly criticise anyone's choices? With the exception of the original poster (have they been back since?) everyone else seemed to be stating how they personally felt about it, expressing an opinion. Whilst her closing statement may have been ill considered, Wondergirl did say that "I do not think the parents are common or poorer caregivers than parents of dummy-less children" and I don't actually think anyone else suggested that dummy-givers were poor parents. Colinsmommy said that she had thought this before children but that her 10 month old has one now.

Tallulah did say "I feel absolutely revolted at the thought/sight of dummies" but she did not actually citicise parents who used them, nor did she say that she was revolted by the children who used them. I don't actually think the post was judgemental, it simply stated her opinion and the facts behind it. She never said nor implied "I'm a better parent than you because you use a dummy" did she?

I still think that the most offensive comments by far were posted by Aloha who personally insulted children and did in fact categorically state that she cared more about her child than non-dummy uses who clearly cared more about the way their child looked than their health. Nothing warrented that sort of attack in my mind, however p!ssed off she may have been. That's not stating an opinion, that's just being plain rude.

"why bother responding to any negative comment that someone may make" No, I don't think that's a logical conclusion to what I was trying to say. Respond all you like but at the end of the day, other people's opinions really don't matter one jot if you're happy with your choices. There's not need to resort to insults.

colinsmommy · 18/07/2004 01:22

Wow. I hope I didn't offend anyone with my post. To me, it just showed how ignorant I was of the entire parenting process, and how much work goes into it. Sorry if I did. I even forgot I posted on this thread.

SoupDragon · 18/07/2004 01:24

Dont think you offended anyone CMommy - I just mentioned you as someone whose attitudes before and after parenthood were poles apart!

Davros · 18/07/2004 01:32

So can we move on to trainers on babies who don't walk yet ? ducks

colinsmommy · 18/07/2004 01:40

I see that now. Its been awhile since I read this thread, and didn't see how heated the discussion got until now. Imagine all this passion over a piece of plastic or silicone.

tigermoth · 18/07/2004 10:37

It's not just the use of dummies that can prevoke criticism of parenting skills/ class stereotyping is it? In real life and on Mumsnet in past years, I have had criticism for letting my sons play out in the street and use toy guns (shock horror sometimes doing both at the same time!)

OK no one said these things were vile and disgusting, but the word 'common' has been used on here with regards to the playing out. A general term, not an attack on me. My sons continue to play out and I continue carefree on mumsnet. Does that make me fit PPH's upper class category

I am wondering if mumsnet merchandise shouid include a mumsnet dummy. Judging by how many use them, it could be very popular.

codswallop · 18/07/2004 14:24

lol !th e woman over the road's kids have htier noses presssed to th e windows as the dsses play out on our cul de sac, biking, cricket etc

Poor buggers - and they could do wiht bit of excercise

dont know if htey have dummies though!

Issymum · 18/07/2004 14:47

DD1 and DD2 both have a dummy. But we're not common because we call it a 'darmy' and we bought them from Peter Jones .

lemonice · 18/07/2004 14:54

The German toy company Haba make lovely environmentally forested beech and maple wood dummy chains with non-toxic cellulose colours which would look enchanting and elevate the dummy to an aspirational designer baby accessory. If you really can't bear to have a dummy just get the chain.

SoupDragon · 18/07/2004 15:15

Could you use the chain to attach trainers to a non walking baby? Or a Grape Pot for those trips round the supermarket? Mine had trainers as newborns but only so I could subsequently put them in a box frame on my kitchen wall.

codswallop · 18/07/2004 15:16

now these are classy

Hulababy · 18/07/2004 15:17

They are just plain scary!!!

CountessDracula · 18/07/2004 15:18

The piglet one would be great for fancy dress parties!

Hulababy · 18/07/2004 15:20

They do adults teeth too . Hmmm!!!

Hulababy · 18/07/2004 15:21

and accessories . Not sure on how the birth control glasses work though!!!

lemonice · 18/07/2004 15:22

They are wonderful I want to stock them immediately, please.

noddy5 · 18/07/2004 15:34

My ds got the billy bob teeth for his birthday from my sister and he insists on wearing them everywhere!He also had a dummy-oh dear!

Davros · 18/07/2004 15:48

Its interesting that everyone still calls them dummies as there was a movement for a while towards trying to rename them pacifiers or soothers. Pandering to the "class issue" issue?

littlemissbossy · 18/07/2004 15:49

LOL noddy, oh dear there's no hope for him BTW my ds had loads of dummies

codswallop · 18/07/2004 15:50

Im no saying anytjing about hte name!

SoupDragon · 18/07/2004 15:55

I thought pacifiers was more American rather than a class issue.

And I'm going to stick my neck out and say that those teeth dummies ARE vile and disgusting IMVHO, obviously, atlthough any child using one would (of course) still be beautiful, georgeous and well cared for behing the offending item.

nutcracker · 18/07/2004 17:02

Bloody hell , knew i should have read this one earlier.

I posted on the other thread, but anyway, basically what iu said was that the thread made me quite angry basically because I didn't like the presumations that were being made about lower class and dummys.

I live in Sutton Coldfield (one of the places the survey was supposidly done) and I also live on a council estste BUT like Jampot said earlier class nowadays has nothing to do with money, jobs e.t.c.
Alot of people on my estate don't like me because I don't swear at my kids all the time, refuse to let my 1 yr old play unsupervised in the street and my partner works.
They think i'm a snob.
All my kids have had dummys that is my choice and i really don't see what difference it makes who you are or where you come from.

Oh and i have asked around, and no one i know, was asked to complete a survey on dummys in Sutton Coldfield.

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