Some people can be self-appointed experts on the tricky subject of parenting, can’t they? And among the worst are those who don’t have children themselves – how often have you heard “If it was my child I’d soon knock that behaviour out of him!”
I’m ashamed to say I was probably one of those people too, back in whatever year it was B.C. (before children).
That air passenger who scowled at the parent who couldn’t control their crying baby on a plane, or the shopper staring open mouthed at a mum who’d just given in to her toddler’s incessant demands for a bag of sweeties off the supermarket shelves? Yes, that could have been me. It’s all very well proclaiming how it wouldn’t happen in your house - until you have children of your own.
David and Victoria Beckham have been coming under fire as parents and it feels like the world and its wife has dished out well-meaning parenting advice to them because they’re allowing their daughter to use a dummy. Harper Seven (that’s her name, not her age – and yes, they’ve already been criticised for their baby-naming prowess) is actually three years old and as pretty as a picture – except, some people would say, for the picture of her with a pacifier stuck in her mouth.
Some say it will affect the child’s speech development and could push her teeth out of position so she will need a brace when she’s older (few children don’t have braces when they’re older, but let’s not allow that fact to take away from the sensationalist warnings of the so called experts.
It’s all about perspective, isn’t it? Let’s face it, it’s not a cigarette that’s hanging out of Harper Seven’s mouth and I doubt that when she actually does turn seven she’ll still be using her pacifier.
I don’t have a problem with children using dummies, pacifiers, soothers, whatever you want to call them. If it makes for an easier ride, calms the child down, helps them nod off at bedtime, sure why not? They usually grow out of it in the end. One of our sons used one as a toddler and I think he ended up giving it to Santa one year in the excitement of Christmas Eve. It was never really mentioned again, so we were lucky.
I suspect a dummy does the same for a child as what chewing gum does for an adult. Look at Alex Ferguson who was never seen in the manager’s dugout at Old Trafford without his jaws chomping furiously in between shouting instructions to his players. I wonder did he ever take the gum out before he went to sleep?
David Beckham wisely hit back at the critics saying no one had the right to criticise him as a parent and he’s absolutely right. He and his wife have already raised three children, none of whom uses a dummy, a bottle, holds a comfort blanket, or sucks a thumb as far as I can see, and they’re all photographed enough so I think we’d all know about it if they did. As a couple they’ve managed to stay together for longer than many celebrity marriages and their children appear to be as normal and grounded as possible under the glare of the paparazzi.
Once, at a parents’ night, our son’s teacher was summing up the progress and behaviour of our younger boy, which wasn’t always exemplar, but he offered an observation: “He knows he is loved”. I think the Beckhams have nailed that one already.