Thursday, May 10, 2007

Adults and Babies

I've ranted a bit about this before, but it never ceases to amaze me.

My daughter is just about two years old now. Over the past couple of years I've watched various adults interact with her on their first meetings, and generally the fall into one of two categories.

Some people treat her with the same respect they treat other adults. They talk to her like an intelligent person, they respect her personal space, and generally seem like they see who she is.

The other group assumes that since she's a baby (well, toddler now...two years went by so fast!) they have an automatic license to interact with her on an intimate level. Touching her feet, caressing her cheek, holding her, not acknowledging the boundaries that she is clearly setting, that sort of thing. And all of this without ever once asking her permission.

I just don't get it. If they treated any adult stranger like this, they'd have every right to expect an indignant response. But there seems to be this need for adults to bond with every baby they see. I'm not quite sure what the root cause is, but I know that the second category of people far outnumbers the people who instantly treat her with respect.

Well, that's enough of a rant for now. It'll be interesting to see how old she has to be before the second category starts treating her differently.


Anonymous said...

I think perhaps some of the need for adults to "bond with every baby they see" is part of an unconscious biological process that makes said adult more compelled to protect the child (by virtue of having bonded with it) and thus ensure the survival of the species. Not as necessary a thing anymore, but our instincts haven't quite caught up with our society.

Jay said...

Could be! I was wondering, too, if it might not be part of an urge to recapture what we see as the innocence of baby-hood (if that's a word).

Of course, in my not so charitable moments I think in terms of energy vampires, so I'm probably not the most objective person! ;-)