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The great Dummygate debate!

David and Victoria Beckham’s child may, strictly speaking, be a bit old for sucking on a soother but the idea that parents cannot exercise their personal right to give their kids an object to soothe them evokes my utter contempt…

When the print media published a photograph of former England footballer Deadwood and former Spice Girl warbler turned fashion designer Skelator Beckham’s (aka David and Victoria) four-year-old daughter Harper sucking a soother earlier this week, the images sent politically correct, know-it-all crazies into meltdown mode setting off the great Dummygate Debate.

We were even treated to some opinions from so-called experts eager to pour scorn and scoff at the little girl’s ‘addiction’ with the credible Laura Haugh from mummypages.ie exclaiming her shock, horror apparently feeling the youngster is too old to suck a soother reportedly saying

“It’s absolutely incredibly irresponsible of her parents to allow her to walk around during the daytime with a soother in her mouth, not only for the child’s speech development. Walking around with a soother means she’s not actually communicating, she’s not exercising her facial muscles”.

In addition, parenting expert Clare Byam-Cook is quoted as saying “If she has a dummy in their mouth at this age, at four, it really can damage her teeth and it is very likely to hinder speech development.”

Wow! Steady now ladies. Let’s not lose perspective here…it’s only a little girl sucking on a soother for God’s sake; there are worse atrocities going on in the world! And while I agree wholeheartedly with both of you that yes, Harper is too old for the soother, I have to ask if perhaps you’re over-reacting just a tad.

I mean, while it’s not uncommon for society to anticipate a parent’s shortcomings with fear and trepidation, even, in some cases, before their sprogs have gotten out of their nappies, the thing I’d like to emphasise is that it’s not really yours or anyone else’s business how the Beckhams or any other couple raise their kids.

I mean, when the time comes to surgically remove Harper’s soother, get her speech therapy and realign those gnashers – (if required), because let’s face it, I do personally feel that after the age of two years a dribbly doodie definitely becomes less of a soothing influence and more of a bad habit, and may lead to some sort of impaired physical development; the question I would pose is – whose hell will it be anyway?

Not yours’, not mine; it will be the Beckhams’. And the general opinion that they and other parents cannot exercise their personal right to give their kids an object to soothe them, be it a dummy or a little sheet (as my second daughter had) simply evokes my utter contempt. When daughter No 1 was born I swore, in my blissful ignorance, that I would never, ever give her a doodie, as we call it.

I mean, at the tender age of 18, it was part of my Parental Moral Covenant to allow my child to ‘self soothe.’ What a total feckin’ eejit!

Apparently I’d read too many Dr Spock style baby books. Looking back it’s certainly impressive and laughable to see how utterly naïve I was.

However, I can tell you within one week of that tiny, premature being, whom I was demand breast feeding, turning purple and screaming her little head off, with the encouragement of her dad, I legged it to the chemist, purchased a doodie and a backup doodie, rushed home, sterilised both and quickly shoved one into her permanently gaping gob the second she latched off!

When I was awaiting baby No 2’s arrival my hospital bag was packed with four doodies; two blue, two pink, much to the annoyance of the portly maternity nurse who, when she practically tried to rugby-tackle the pink one from my meaty paw, was forced to admit she’d never even given birth let alone sat up all night with a screaming baby.

She went ballistic when I gave the highly emotional new mother of a baby boy in the bed next to me the blue ones.

Besides, doesn’t the HSE website advise that ‘some research suggests that giving a baby a soother (dummy) every time they are being placed to sleep may reduce the risk of cot death.’

Now ok, I know Harper Beckham, whom at four years’ old is way beyond an age where many health experts discourage the use of pacifiers in the shape of soother, and for the record I began weaning my kids off their doodies when they were both 18 months old, insisting they hand over their much cherished sticky objects to Santa for Rudolph’s babies when both were aged 2, but I really do feel that this Dummygate debate has spiralled way out of control and is now, as far as I can see, more akin to radical mean-spirited parent-bashing.

Parents who allow their kids to suck soothers beyond the recommended age are not raising the Anti-Christ and I have to ask all those with sceptical, hostile views if they themselves have ever been schooled in the intrinsic value of a peaceful family life or if they’re just spouting off for the sake of hearing their own voices?

Look, sometimes a small child needs that extra little bit of comfort and mammy and daddy need that extra little bit of peace and quiet and a good parent will always facilitate their child’s needs.

Besides, if you take away the doodie too early the child may resort to sucking their thumb…then what would these Mother Earth expert types advise…amputation?

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