When you have an infant at home, it may feel isolating. In these situations, women can often feel a disconnect from their significant other. Especially if he's being a less than ideal partner. So sometimes, women will turn to their most silent friend, their infant. According to a study from the University of Cambridge, women having dissatisfaction with their male partners tend to spend more time talking to their infant sons.
Researchers from the Centre for Family Research at the University of Cambridge studied 93 heterosexual parents and how they interact with their infants. After asking the couples about the quality of their adult relationship and how satisfied they were, their infants were given a 'talk pedometer' for their seven-month-olds to wear. This recorded the "natural" conversation between parent and infant. And they only recorded when both parents were in the home.
The researchers then used a software to get an automated analysis on how often adults were speaking to the babies. Because of its connection to partner relationships and how much adults talk to their infants, depression was taken into account for analysis.
After taking that into account, the researchers found that the more dissatisfied a couple was with each other, the more the mother would talk to her infant. Those mothers who rated their marriage quality as "low" used approximately 35 percent more words than the moms who rated their relationships "average." They also started about 20 percent more of the conversations. However, they didn't analyze the specific content of the conversations. So there's no way to know whether or not the conversations were positive.
"It's possible that the mum is trying to compensate for the poor relationship she has with her partner by putting more time and effort into her relationship with her other close male social partner, her son," says Dr. Elian Fink of the Centre for Family Research and the Faculty of Education.
"What is particularly interesting is that mums only seem to compensate when they have infant sons, not daughters. It could be that mothers view their daughters as mini versions of themselves rather than of their partners," Dr. Fink adds.
When it comes to the male partners, regardless of the quality and satisfaction with the relationship, they're not talking to their infants. The research shows that the fathers had "significantly less" conversations. And they rarely would initiate conversation either.
"Finding time to talk to children is very important. Using opportunities within the daily routine, such as mealtimes and bedtime, to have conversations with your child may help foster later child talk," Dr. Fink says, stressing the importance of these conversations with your infant.