shutterstock_67639567It really sucks as a new parent to hear that you are going to do something to irreparably damage your baby early on life. It’s no wonder that new parents spend hours agonizing and researching the most asinine choices: formula feeding versus bottle feeding, when to start solids, when and if to start daycare. Don’t screw it up!

This Princeton study certainly isn’t going to help matters. Researchers from Princeton University have confirmed what many experts and parents already know to be true—there are a number of babies born to ill-equipped families. One third of new parents in the US have no effing clue what to do with their newborns:

The basic problem, according to the Princeton study, is 40 percent of infants in the U.S. live in fear or distrust of their parents, and that will translate into aggressiveness, defiance and hyperactivity as they grow into adults.

Of that number, 25 percent don’t bond with their parents because the parents aren’t responding to their needs. And a tragic 15 percent find their parents so distressing that they will avoid them whenever possible.

That will not necessarily commit them to a lifetime of violence and hostility, but it will make living a successful and fulfilling life much more difficult.

I have two schools of thought on this study. The first is, the findings really hurt my heart. My mom has talked to me about her difficulty bonding with me as a baby, and I truly think it affects me today. I still struggle with feeling lonely and anxious, even when I’m around people. The good news is that I am working on these issues in therapy, but it hasn’t come easy.

My second school of thought is that this is just one more thing to freak out new parents and cause unnecessary worry. While I believe it is important to make an effort to bond with your baby and understand how to help it grow and develop, emotionally and physically, a study like this may put doubt in the minds of parents who are already overwhelmed and trying their best.

This study emphasizes, “The importance of those first few months of life, when a tiny baby is sent on a trajectory that will partly determine success at something as simple — and as critical — as getting along with others.”

Parents, you know yourself and you know your baby—even if you feel like you’ve been thrown in the deep end after giving birth. There are probably many parents out there who need to hear this message to better understand how to bond. But if you’re already doing your best, don’t beat yourself up.

(Image: Kiselev Andrey Valerevich/Shutterstock)