Designer Diapers: Parents Pushing Limits or Just Playing Around?

Posted by Amy Henry on Wed, Aug 04, 2010 @ 11:45 AM

If you’re a parent of an infant or a toddler, it’s likely that you’ve seen Huggies’ new spot for its “limited edition” denim style diapers. Or maybe you’ve seen Target’s latest brand/designer partnership – Pampers designed by Cynthia Rowley – on the bum of a little boy or girl near you.

Mommy bloggers and consumer critics, who question the priorities of parents who buy disposable diapers at a 40% premium for the sake of a short-lived spot of style, have certainly noticed. And more than one has asserted that today’s babies have gone from objects of affection to their parents’ latest accessories.

Really?

Look, I don’t really get denim diapers. I didn’t get when Shaun White wore denim-look snowboard pants during the Olympics either, but to each his own. And when it comes to diapers, my Huggieshusband and I made a point of buying the unbleached, better-for-the-environment kind from Seventh Generation. (Not that we’re above making a statement with our son’s under-things – in Brooklyn, where we lived, the brown bag beige of these diapers were pretty eco-chic.) But why are “we” (“society” or “the media”) so uncomfortable with designer diapers?

  1. “We” don’t think kids are supposed to reflect their parents’ identity, but they do. To differing degrees, we, parents, might believe that we are doing a good job at letting our children – our babies even – choose their own adventure. But in truth, our kids see the world (at least in their early years) through the lens that we carefully craft for them. And we like them to look that way. I’d like my two-year-old to discover his own sense of style, eventually, but for now he wears t-shirts endorsing my political candidate of choice, the Beatles and the Yankees (or the Phillies depending on whether dad or mom has dressed him that day). And I’m pretty sure I think of him as more than an identity prop. In the least, he’s a very cute billboard.

  2. “We” want to take parenting seriously, but sometimes it’s not. Parenting is serious. And today’s parents know that. Today’s moms are more mature (at least in age) and better educated than ever before. More are having babies by choice – and often trying very hard to have kids. And these chosen babies are a more scrutinized, coddled and pampered (no pun intended) group than ever before. If, in the eyes of the world, putting your infants in design-conscious looks negate all the other stuff that these designer-diapering parents are likely doing to nurture their children’s potential, then I would like to ask, “World, did you skip your coffee this morning? And have you ever changed a diaper?”

    We’re not suggesting that parenting is something to take lightly. And we don’t mean to imply that anything that makes a parent laugh is okay or good for their babies, but paying a bit more for a pattern on a diaper (made by companies like Kimberly-Clark or Procter and Gamble, who, presumably, are not going to begin manufacturing gold-plated Pull-Ups or baby stilettos on the heels of this trend), seems like an acceptable indulgence.

  3. “We” claim to not buy sizzle over substance, but actually, we do. Perhaps this debate strikes a chord as it raises the question, “Does design matter?” And perhaps more provocatively, “Should it”? If the answer is, “No,” then we’ve all got a lot of changing to do. And someone needs to call Target and let them know that their design-centric strategy – despite stellar sales even in a down economy – isn’t working.

    Yes, spending so much more for disposable diapers in a down economy is irresponsible or, at least, obnoxious. And there are valid points to make about where R&D dollars are going (towards creating a more earth-friendly diaper or a more aesthetically pleasing one). But if wallpapering your child’s bottom with a cheeky pattern is the vice of choice for today’s parents, then we’re okay with that.

Do you think designer diapers are here to stay? Or just a flash in the can?

Tags: parents, diapers, family, Youth, pregnancy, Huggies

What Does New Research on Teen Pregnancy Really Tell Us About Teens?

Posted by Amy Henry on Tue, Jun 08, 2010 @ 02:39 PM
A study released this week from researchers at the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics revealed a shocking shift in teens' attitudes toward pregnancy. According to the study, which looked at data collected from the 2006-2008 National Survey of Family Growth, 1 in 5 unmarried teens reported that they would be happy if they became pregnant right now. While some people will surely read this as a sign of a society who has failed to prepare our youth morally, we think that this tells us something different about teens today.

First, the romance of parenthood is in the Zeitgeist. The celebrity magazines that many teens page through show pics of young Hollywood and their hopelessly adorable children, alongside stories about Lindsay Lohan (whose family life appears to be less than picture perfect). Ask any teen who Bronx, Suri, Zahara and Kingston are and they're likely to tell you without needing their famous last names (Simpson-Wentz, Cruise, Jolie-Pitt, and Rossdale, respectively). Is it really irresponsible for teens to admire the famous with families over celebrities spiraling out of control?

We know that this generation does not take family for granted. Rather than seeing parents as the out-of-touch enemy, most of the teens that we talk to site their parents as their heroes. They look for ways to spend more - not less - time with them. And they even agree with them on traditionally parent-child battlegrounds like music. Given this, is it any surprise that the idea of starting a family seems less like an immature risk and more like a step towards mature happiness?

Second, it reminds us that most teens cannot yet evaluate risk the way (most) adults can. This doesn't mean that they are illogical or incapable of reason - quite the contrary. It is a reminder, however, that teens are passionate - wonderfully so. They are impulsive - and they have a developmental imperative to try new things, to break away from the rules and limits that they have received from society and their parents. And these very same characteristics that propel them towards growth and authentic identity development can also put them in harm's way.

But they are also impressionable, and most teens that we talk to are willing to learn and be exposed to new ideas - if they are presented to them in a way that respects them and that refrains from judging them.

Finally, today's youth are coming of age at a time when sex education has all but disappeared from many schools. And it's no surprise that teenagers who do engage in sex (which is a number that continues to decline, as it has been for almost a decade) demonstrate less knowledge about contraception than the teens who came before them - with employment of the rhythm method (proven to be only 75% effective) on the rise (17% in the years in which this study was conducted, up from 11% in the previous period). But many experts believe that sex education must include not just a discussion of body parts, but must also involve thoughtful dialogue about relationships (both healthy and abusive ones), life goals and future planning and parenting.

Interestingly, pop culture might be less of a problem than a solution to the problem of teens taking parenthood lightly. Since this study was conducted, MTV launched its breakthrough documentary style show, 16 and Pregnant. 16 and PregnantIn a narrative format reminiscent of sister network VH1's classic, Behind the Music, each episode inevitably begins with the story of where it began: the relationship between future mother and father. But quickly, the story moves to the revelation of an unexpected pregnancy to both families and the father-to-be. And with the teen's decision to keep her child, the reality of pregnancy unfolds before us. While we see the future mom dream about who her child will be, we also see the struggles - big and small. She faces the fact that buying her fantasy prom dress and expecting a child do not go together. As predictably as we watch a music icon fall prey to the temptations of drugs and alcohol in Behind the Music, we see young love pushed to its limits by the overwhelming task of paying for diapers and struggling through sleepless nights. But while people inevitably judge the couple, MTV also gives the young mother a voice of her own. We see her as a person who didn't plan to sabotage her life, but who had a lapse in judgment that had unintended consequences.

And The Secret Life of the American Teenager, a hit with teens, includes two storylines about teen pregnancy. The show thoughtfully explores the complicated feelings that teens bring to this topic - and many others relevant to today's teens.

Only time will tell whether these shows can move the meter on teens' attitudes toward pregnancy. Perhaps their biggest contribution will be giving organizations who talk to teens about pregnancy a model to follow.


Tags: research, mom, Youth, Teens, MTV, pregnancy