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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:
meysey · 18/07/2004 17:13

fascinating research. though just to upset it a bit, two friends with new second babies have gone for dummies and they are very posh.

personally i would worry that a dummy would hinder speech development. i like to hear what my baby is trying to say.

Hulababy · 18/07/2004 17:30

maysey - my DD is living proof that dummy use does not have to mean poor speech. Believe me, she talks for England, has immense vocab, is very clear and understood by almost everyone majority of the time, has been talking since a very early age, talking in sentences early too, and holds full conversions on many topics. She is 2y 3m. No negative effect on her speech development at all

Fio2 · 18/07/2004 17:40


meysey · 18/07/2004 17:48

yes this is a hot discussion, but isn't that part of the pleasure of it???

CountessDracula · 18/07/2004 17:56

Those of you who hate dummies - don't you have anything better to do? I mean does it hurt you or affect your life in any way other than aesthetically?

It's all too sad! WHO CARES?

Fio2 · 18/07/2004 18:06


Pes · 18/07/2004 18:15

Feel a bit down after reading this. Couldn't give a toss about dummies. Tried to give ds one (to help him sleep) but he wasn't interested. Do people really associate dummies with being 'common'? Frankly couldn't give a toss about being considered common or not.
But am now feeling guilty because had no idea about the dummies / SIDS connection. Why do we agree that mothers are encouraged to feel guilty about absolutely bloody everything and then collude in the process????

Fio2 · 18/07/2004 18:17

I am common and I love it. Imagine the Royle family...thats us...dont give a f**k tbh. Stay away from sorts who think I am a peice of shit they have just scraped off the bottom of their shoes. Who cares?

webmum · 18/07/2004 18:18


I was dubious about the results as soon as I read the majority were non-parents, what do they know anyway????

Can I change the way this issue is treated though?

Everyone seems to assume that dummy sucking is induced (if not forced 'plugged' by mothers, which is snot always true. We may put one in baby's mouth first time, but if baby did not want it in the first place there's no way you force them to have one (unless you tape in on!)

Dd never wanted one as a baby, she then found her thumb and was happy with that. At 18 months following the example of her cousin she discovered the dummy which is still her first choice. Dummy/thumb and her teddybear have always been a source of comfort to her, no one has ever forced anything on her.

When she's tired/upset/confused/in pain, she will look for dummy/teddy and a cuddle. This helps her cope with everything and to calm down more quickly and easily after something's upset her. But there's no way I could force her to have her dummy when she doesn't want to. Sometimes she's very upset and I offer one hoping it'll help calm down, and she'll just throw it at me, until she's ready to wind down and will come to me to have a cuddle with dummy/teddy combo.

I am amused really when people talk about shoving dummies in children mouths, are these children for real???

tallulah · 18/07/2004 22:16

As usual, I see i'm not entitled to an opinion! Thanks Soupdragon & Meanbean for your comments. I'd have come back to this thread earlier if I'd realised I'd opened a hornets nest.. again.

katierocket I was expressing a personal opinion. I wasn't criticising anyone else's child or their parenting methods. I didn't say that other people's children were revolting but that I personally feel revolted by dummies, in the same way that just about everyone I work with is revolted by the idea of breastfeeding. As to why I feel like this, as I said, it's the way I was brought up. You cannot help feeling a certain way about things. I'm sorry that everyone decided to take offence but none was intended.

I also didn't say I was a better parent than anyone else. Obviously I'm not allowed to mention that I have four children either, in case it upsets someone's sensibilities. Well tough. I have got four. My youngest sucks his thumb.... I had no end of people say to me when he was tiny that I should stop him doing it and give him a dummy instead... I don't find thumb sucking a problem, even though he is now 12. I also don't make a point of telling people with dummies that they should take them out and make them use their thumb.

Everyone happy now? I'll go back into my little corner & not presume to inflict my views on the rest of you.

katierocket · 18/07/2004 22:23

alright don't flounce. I just thought it sounded pretty judgemental but if not intended that way then fine.

codswallop · 18/07/2004 22:28

Oh come on
aloha was really offensive in her post and sems to get away with it!

emkana · 18/07/2004 23:08

What would you suggest we do to aloha, codswallop?
Anyway, if you look at the 'aloha come back' thread then you'll see that she had a very good excuse to (slightly) overreact!

Pagan · 18/07/2004 23:48

Blimey! It started out as a topical debate over some tenuous research and has ended in a slagging match.

Let's all agree that the "Mother knows best" adage works best here and each to their own when it comes to dummies. In the whole great scheme of things, what fecking difference does it make.

Reality check required and I'll join the group hug if it's still going round.

Hulababy · 18/07/2004 23:51

Big hugs all round then...because MNetters love each other very much!

Tinker · 18/07/2004 23:55

Come on talullah, I like reading your opinions - grapes in supermarkets anyone? Let's get really angry and start a 'How many of us civil servants have been sacked by Gordon Brown?' thread

SoupDragon · 19/07/2004 00:02

Gerroff! Keep those hugs away from me .

Seriously, Tallulah, don't go. It was just a misundertanding that (fuelled by raging hormones) went too far.

Angeliz · 19/07/2004 00:07

meysey, my dd is very articulate and has been chatting away since she was one.

Angeliz · 19/07/2004 00:08

(Can't understand a bllody wqord she says though with that peice of plastic shoved in her gob!!!).

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