The baby-haves and the baby-have-nots


Image by BreckenPool via Flickr

As I bounce from music class to baby sign language group, give my child her organic baby-food and set up to spend half an hour ‘sharing focus’ with her to help improve her listening skills, attention span and communication I am struck by how soon the differences between the haves and the have nots start to surface. Some may say it starts even before that, in the womb…

I mean researchers have drawn correlations between IQ and:
– diet (particularly, but not only, Omega 3 consumption),
– exposure to certain types of music (most notably Mozart),
– learning baby-sign language,
– developing a healthy ability to focus (mostly through having a parent give one-to-one attention to the child, responding to and expanding their interests, etc),
– breastfeeding (including/especially night-feeding)
– less exposure to ‘ambient’ or background TV and distractions (which again impede the development of good listening skills
– early reading
– etc., etc.

As I bump into the same mums over and over in the different groups I attend, I can’t help but muse about just how lucky all our children are, how privileged. Conversely, I spare a thought for all the kids who don’t have all this attention lavished on them.

Hey, I know there is such a thing as too much doting, for sure. And I am also very aware that the second born child doesn’t get this level of one-to-one attention (though they usually get a slightly less neurotic, more experienced mom). But as you glance at that list above it is easy to speculate that most kids whose parents both work or who perhaps have a single parent caring for them and among those the kids whose parents have little education, know nothing and care less about healthy nutrition, books or Mozart… well, you can see the divide may start (or be perpetuated from) very early indeed.

College scholarship for underprivileged kids may be a good thing, an excellent thing, even… but it seems that the fate of so many kids is all but sealed by then. No, not just because they didn’t have baby-music classes – but because of a whole package of care that comes with having educated middle-class parents that they may have missed out on.

Then again you have to admire all the more the exceptions, the kids that came from rough neighbourhoods, whose parents gave them none of the advantages of interaction, stimulation, support and motivation that they might have got in other environments and they still make it. Some of them make it BIG. Is it their genes, their determination or something else that gives them an edge?

And I guess, there are as many (if not more) kids who were given everything and did nothing with it… ended up taking drugs and wasting away.

My point is only this, the gap is widening between the super-rich and the poor. The ‘raising tide that lifts all boats’ is failing our nations. And here I am seeing it from a new angle, from the seed up.


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