What would we do without science?
A new study has discovered that women have a maternal instinct.
Better yet, this instinct manifests itself in the way that new mothers talk to their babies.
The best, fathers do not talk to the same infants in the same way. Even more maternal fathers do not engage in very much baby talk.
Apparently, fatherly speech points a child out of the home into the world.
Time Magazine reports:
Most mothers [talk baby talk] without thinking: cooing to their young children in a sing-songy, high pitched way that seems to help them connect better with their youngsters.
Mark VanDam, a professor in speech and hearing sciences at Washington State University, wanted to find out in his new study presented at the annual meeting of the Acoustical Society of America. While previous studies have looked at how moms and dads interact with their preschoolers, most of these have been in the rather artificial setting of a lab. So researchers led by VanDam strapped recording devices on both parents and their toddlers for an entire day in order to hear what parents were really saying to their children—and how they were saying it—in a more natural setting.
They found that mothers do indeed adopt “motherese” when addressing their preschoolers, but fathers did not—even those who spent more time with their children. In fact, the fathers talked to their young children in the same way they conversed with adults.
Why is this so?
Apparently, there is good reason for both tactics. Thus, there is good reason why a child has both a mother and a father and why these two individuals perform different functions.
That may be because mothers vary their intonation more and tend to speak in a more infantile way in order to bond better with their toddlers, according to a theory proposed in the 1970s. Mothers are supposed to teach their children how to connect on a more intimate level, and speaking in a more melodic way introduces children to this way of communicating, the theory goes. Fathers, on the other hand, are the bridge for preschoolers to the outside world, and fathers’ more varied vocabulary and adult intonations help to familiarize them with this way of connecting with others. “The basic idea is that moms provide the link to the domestic, more intimate type of talk, while dads provide the link to the outside world,” says VanDam. “In that sense, moms and dads provide different kinds of experiences that give kids more comprehensive exposure to what kinds of language they need in the real world.”
These results were drawn from two-parent families.
Science has not yet discovered what happens in families where fathers are absent and where both parents are of the same gender.
We await the results.