being a mom

New Study Claims 40 Percent Of Babies Fear Their Parents So Everybody Panic

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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)


  1. keelhaulrose

    April 7, 2014 at 9:13 am

    Just because a baby grew inside you and came out your lady parts doesn’t mean it’s going to be love at first sight, and we need to stop acting like it’s automatic for everyone. In doing so I think we create an unrealistic expectation on mothers, who then feel like there’s something wrong with them if they don’t have that automatic feeling of unconditional love. For some people it must grow into that, and that’s okay and natural. When moms, especially new ones, don’t get that automatic feeling of love and feel like there’s something wrong it fosters unnecessary anxiety and stress, which isn’t going to help the problem.
    I honestly think the numbers in the study are being exaggerated, but even if they aren’t it is what it is, and we must support all mothers and let them know they’re not doing anything wrong by not feeling overwhelming love for their little one.

    • Bethany Ramos

      April 7, 2014 at 9:20 am

      Good point. I think pressure to feel loving from the get-go would more than likely contribute to stress, difficulty bonding, PPD, etc.

    • keelhaulrose

      April 7, 2014 at 9:53 am

      I had PPD with my children, but it was worse with the first. In the hospital my daughter had to be kept on the bililights, so I’d get her for twenty minutes or so every couple hours. It was like she was someone else’s kid who just came to drink off me every so often, and I was very conflicted about the whole thing. When a nurse was taking her back to the nursery once she made a comment along the lines of “don’t you just love her more than anything else ever?” And I cried for the next two hours because I couldn’t honestly answer yes to that question. And I was completely stressed until my husband got back to the hospital eight hours later. I tried to force myself to feel that unconditional love for my daughter until my husband calmed me down.
      I love my girls unconditionally now, but we shouldn’t be making it seem like everyone has those feelings for their baby as soon as they’re born (or even before they’re born). People do have those feelings, but not everyone, and if you’re one of the ones who don’t it’s easy to feel you’re the only woman ever who didn’t get that feeling.

    • Bethany Ramos

      April 7, 2014 at 10:05 am

      Agree – and I’m so sorry to hear about your experience. I noticed that I didn’t really, really bond with my first son until he was 12 months old and started to develop a personality, though I obviously loved him before then.

      I recently felt bad about feeling the same way with my second son since he is about 10 months old. My husband had to remind me that once he starts to show his personality, I will feel an even deeper bond with him. 🙂

    • Valerie

      April 7, 2014 at 12:49 pm

      I am so sorry this is how it went for you. I understand those feelings to a degree. I had surgery directly following my daughter’s birth to remove a large cyst and my ovary. I was not able to see or hold my daughter until 5-6 hours later once surgery and recovery were over and by then, I had lost a lot of blood and was flat-out exhausted. I spent the next few weeks in a pain-killer and anemia haze and my husband did a lot of the leg work with diapers, soothing, clothing changes, etc. I was just physically wiped and unable to do more than pump. I feel like it took me a much longer time to bond with her than it did with my son, who’s birth was uneventful and who nursed easily. I felt like she liked my husband better and that he was better with her than I was because he got so much more practice in those first weeks. It took me a long time to get my footing as a mother and my confidence. And it definitely took a long time to have those bonded and loving feelings that I thought would come to me instantly. I mean, I would have laid down my life for her from day one but I couldn’t sit and stare in awe for hours- I just didn’t feel that closeness right away. I am past it now but I felt so alone and sad at the time.

  2. Ursi

    April 7, 2014 at 9:26 am

    I never bonded with my father. Even as a child I tried never to be around him. There are pictures of him holding me as a baby and in almost every one of the pictures I’m crying or freaking out.
    I attribute this to the fact that he wasn’t around much when I was growing up because of his career at the time, so it was like having this weird strange man come out of nowhere and take over for mommmy.
    Now there are a million other things in our relationship that affected and were affected by that to make me the person I am today (not a whit closer to my father than I was as a child but more sympathetic towards him as a person.)
    However I truly believe that if my parents had simply acknowledged that this was a problem and not tried to push me into a close relationship with him through threat of punishment and guilt and putting the blame on me when I didn’t want to be close to him, then the problem would have eventually solved itself.
    I’m convinced that there is nothing at all wrong with a child not bonding with a parent that cannot be fixed with time and patience and the parent being the bigger person. Give it time and don’t worry about it and don’t force it, just be the best parent possible. I am convinced that most of the reason this becomes a problem is because the parent subconciously takes it out on the child. I suppose that may be my personal bias but there it is.

  3. diana

    April 7, 2014 at 9:32 am

    This is so sad! I think its important to remember they pre verbal children are just as emotionally sensitive as older kids.

  4. ChelseaBFH

    April 7, 2014 at 10:02 am

    I think it’s unfair to equate not feeling an immediate bond with your baby with being a bad parent who neglects their needs. You can not feel that bond right away and still create a secure, loving environment.

    Bottom line: if you care enough to read studies like this and get freaked out by them, it’s very, very unlikely that you have anything to worry about.

  5. Kay_Sue

    April 7, 2014 at 10:05 am

    I am going to have to look at this closer later today. I wonder how it correlates with socioeconomic and other factors, like parental age and education. And I apologize in advance for the length that this post will probably wind up being, but bear with me.

    My mother sat on the first jury in our state to try a homicide by child abuse case. It was a two year old who was smothered by his father because he would not stop crying. You may say, “That man is a monster”, and on a superficial level, you’d probably feel comfortable with that (as do I). My mom, and the other jurors according to her recollection, felt differently. They returned a guilty verdict, but to this day–and please understand when I type this that my mother has dedicated her life to children, with a career in public education that has spanned nearly three decades and a specialization in early childhood–my mom maintains that the man was not a monster. He became a parent young (not to this child, but to his first), he worked long hours at a menial job to try to make ends meet, he and his wife struggled a lot, and at the end of the day, he simply did not know how to parent. None of that excuses his actions–thus why they returned the guilty verdict–but it points out something that, to me, isn’t preached enough.

    Yes, there are parts of parenting that are instinctual. There must be, because that would be key to our survival as a species over the millennia. But there is much, much, MUCH more to it, especially in modern society, that is not instinctual. It needs to be learned. When I left the hospital with my eldest, they gave me this helpful little checklist. It said, quite simply, “Your baby’s crying is the only way he or she has to communicate with you. They don’t cry for nothing.” Then it ran through a list of things to check–if baby was dirty, hungry, cold/hot, uncomfortable, etc. Last on the list was, “Your baby may just want you. It may be lonely.” That list got me through so many nights when I was stressed and tired and had no idea what to do. I’m a list maker–it became my mantra. I think of that list whenever I think about that man above. If someone had told him, would he have made a different decision? Would he have been better equipped to parent? There’s so much more to it than we seem willing to admit.

    • Bethany Ramos

      April 7, 2014 at 10:08 am

      I cannot tell you how glad I am you wrote this! I try so hard to have compassion for people in almost any situation (example, WBC leader), but hearing stories about parents that kill their kids absolutely makes me sick to my stomach. It sounds like your mom is a really compassionate woman, and I am so happy to hear her side of the story because it gives me food for thought on these cases.

    • Kay_Sue

      April 7, 2014 at 10:18 am

      I was glad to have that perspective as I became a parent. It’s easy to cross that line from “good” parent to “bad” parent in just a moment of bad judgement, and to spend the rest of your life regretting it.

    • MerlePerle

      April 7, 2014 at 10:21 am

      But I think in cases of child murder, some kind of mental illness must have played a part. Sure, I have yelled at my kid in fruststration, but I would never even hit her. I think to smother a kid long enough for them to die, a completely sane person does not do that, no matter how tough life gets.

    • Kay_Sue

      April 7, 2014 at 1:17 pm

      In this case, he simply held his hand over his child’s mouth too long. There was no history of mental illness, and the defense did not present evidence that there was (which I am sure they would have if they could). I am sure many cases do involve issues with mental health, but there is no evidence that this was one of them.

    • Rachel Sea

      April 7, 2014 at 2:43 pm

      That’s why we have such a thing as temporary insanity, though it’s a legal term, not a medical one. Sometimes sane people just snap.

    • Erin Murphy

      April 7, 2014 at 2:52 pm

      I follow a parenting site on Facebook. Last week they had a meme that basically said that when your baby is “giving you a hard time” they are having a hard time. It’s an easy t thing to forget when you’re tired and you’ve tried everything.

    • Kay_Sue

      April 7, 2014 at 6:52 pm

      It really is easy to forget. They’re communicating the only way that they can, and unfortunately, it is nerve-gratingly annoying at times, a characteristic that seems exponentially magnified by sleep deprivation, in my experience. 🙂

  6. Alex Lee

    April 7, 2014 at 10:08 am

    Terrifying my children is why I had them in the first place.

    • Valerie

      April 7, 2014 at 12:58 pm


  7. Robotic Socks

    April 7, 2014 at 12:45 pm

    Bond with babies? Just make sure you don’t shake ’em. Or else you’ll stir problems in the future.

    • Valerie

      April 7, 2014 at 12:58 pm

      OMG, you need kids so you can pass on all of your awful puns.

    • Robotic Socks

      April 7, 2014 at 1:00 pm

      “awful puns” = redundant?

    • Valerie

      April 7, 2014 at 1:03 pm

      Why? Some puns are pun-derful.

  8. itpainsme2say

    April 7, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    My mom had back surgery right after I was born and couldn’t pick me up a lot so I was somewhat leery of her for a while but I grew up to be much more distant from my father even though we were really close when I was a baby/child.

  9. Emiliano Babarah

    April 7, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    Oh my God, I’m so glad to tell everyone the real thing that happen to me…My name is EMILIANO BABARAH. If i refuse to share this testimony it means i am selfish to my self and to people i love so much whom might have similar problems, March 16th about something 7:23pm after taken our dinner my husband got crazy started calling a lady name Melisa I love you, i was so mad and started crying like a baby…then my husband left home for the idiot called Melisa, and never return back home then i believed when he uthen nderstand his self he will surly come back to apology, but instead he left me So i complained to my friend she told me she was having such problems in her marriage until she was introduce to DR ORIOMON who specializes in bringing back broken homes and broken marriages DR ORIOMON cast a spell for me in May 4th surprisingly my husband came home May 6th apologizing that i should forgive him that it will never happen again, i was so glad and gave the thanks to DR ORIOMON who save my marriage, if you are having similar problem you can contact him and His email address is ([email protected]) you can still save your marriage if u really love your husband.


  10. Doreen Sophia

    July 2, 2014 at 7:56 am

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