Parenting infants and young babies is a large job in and of itself, without the pressure of financial stress. The study examined here seems a bit obvious to an observant on-looker, but let’s see. Did we actually spend research money to find out if mothers, who cannot properly diaper their children due to inadequate funds, treat their children and themselves differently than those who could? Why does it seem we always need some kind of ‘scientific proof’ in this world in order to spur change, or in this case – to change a diaper?
Yes, a recent Yale study reported in Pediatrics, interviewed 877 New Haven mothers with young children and surveyed their diapering habits and resulting parenting. Findings concluded that nearly 30% could not afford diapers to change their little ones as often as needed. The study revealed that these women were more prone to depression and further, to potentially become abusive with their child. Let’s look at this rationally.
A baby soils their diaper, it needs to be changed, there are not enough diapers in the house to accommodate such a need. The caregiver simply dumps out the bulk of the diaper mass and replaces the still dirty diaper onto the little one. Infant still notices the irritation, smell and discomfort from a lack of clean diapers and behaves -rightfully, upset.
The same mother in this situation feels terrible for not being able to supply the proper diaper needs to her little one. This action is repeated day in and day out – the mother shows reasonable signs of depression. After listening to her troubled little one, for whom she cannot fill their basic needs, she becomes increasingly irritated and without thinking, shakes, forcefully pushes or uses other stronger methods to try and quiet the baby. Granted, this mother has tried everything else already: normal rocking, walking, bouncing, singing, warm milk, pacifiers, everything but the needed clean diaper which she cannot afford. As the troubled behavior of the infant continues day after day, along side the depressed state of the mother for not being able to offer clean underpants to her little one – violence starts to escalate – both inside the caregiver, and unfortunately, externally as well. Abusive tendencies are noticed in ‘said study’ as a result of a lack of proper diaper supply.
This study simply points out the inevitable pattern of behavior that must logically follow inadequate parenting capabilities based on poverty levels. The real problem that needs addressing is the outrageous cost of diapers and the distribution of funds in this country. I know many argue for cloth diapers, but for these too there are additional costs of time, laundry and the cloth diapers themselves including wipes, covers and more.
What is to be done about such a condition, affecting a huge portion of the population, especially Hispanic mothers and caregivers over 45 in this country? Recent studies show that a lack of diapers equates to inadequate parenting. Who would argue such a finding? The real study ought to be to find out how care changes when those who don’t have enough are suddenly given what they need. Instead of just observing the lack and poverty of others and reporting on how such situations contribute to unhelpful conditions for individuals and families, attention ought to be turned to what can be done to change the situation. We are so consumed with ‘research’ and reporting ‘findings’ that we tend to lose true human concern for one another in the process. What can we do?
Written by: Stasia Bliss