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“Remember that a baby that has a dummy [pacifier] is like a tiger that has tasted blood,” warned an English health pamphlet from of about 100 years ago. Perversions were thought likely to follow, explains Nicholas Day in an article titled (an editor’s dream)  Babies Suck .

The hysteria, backed up with the Authority of Science, including that of Dr. Freud, is amusing, but the story reminded me of article about a contemporary expression. Britain’s Baby Gurus Go to War reports that Penelope Leach says it’s bad to let babies cry, Gina Ford says it’s good, and the choice between their styles of raising children is for modern parents a choice  ”essentially between two religions.”

I know the feeling, as has probably every other parent likely to be reading “First Thoughts.” Everything tells you that nearly every decision you make, even the smallest, even the ones you don’t consciously make, may permanently affect your baby — and probably for the worse . For example, as Day notes:

It is hard not to feel that what permeates the contemporary pacifier debate is a fundamental distrust of parents: the fear that pacifiers will allow parents to detach themselves from their children — to substitute a cold, industrial object for warm skin and sweet whispering and a steady heartbeat.

You’re shirking your duty, handing the kid a pacifier. You probably want to do something else, you selfish [illegitimate child]. You’re not child-centered. Why did you do what your mom did? Don’t you know what the studies show? Why’d you follow last year’s study? Haven’t you read this year’s? Your kid’s feelings of loss are going to lost forever . Ever hear of attachment disorder? Kiss Harvard goodbye. Start saving up for the counselor.  Make sure you know a good defense lawyer, and put him on retainer.

It’s hard not to feel that parents suck, if you’re as anxious and worldly as most of us are. I can put myself in God’s hands, but not so easily my children. I suppose it’s a kind of detachment disorder.

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