I don't know about you, but nothing gets to me quite like the sound of my child crying. All it takes is a bad enough-sounding wail, and I'm on a panicky mission to do whatever it takes to make it stop. Science, of course, has some explanations for that.
On the one hand, my urge to soothe could be because my own parents were so hands-on with my sisters and me -- at least if recent findings from a study at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro are true. The university, together with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Fuller Theological Seminary, discovered that our childhood memories impact how we tend to our own crying kiddos. Specifically, moms who have positive memories of their parents or caregivers -- or have worked through any bad ones -- are more likely to be more responsive to their child's needs. By the same token, women who are still grappling with a less-than-idyllic childhood are less responsive to a baby's cries. The study followed 259 new moms and their babies, from conception through the first six months of baby's life, and the results were published in Child Development, reports Science Daily.
But maybe it's not that simple. Maybe our fight-or-flight reaction to crying is really just something that has been ingrained in us from the very beginning. With that in mind, a grad student at MIT has posited that our prehistoric ancestors were also deeply affected by wailing babies, so much so that they used them as a motivator to fight battles, reports NPR. According to Tomer Ullman, soldiers probably wore babies on their backs during wars and used all their screaming, or "infant stress vocalizations," as a "natural adrenalin boost." In essence, babies were the original WMDs.
While I can't wrap my head around the logistics of wearing a baby while fighting, I admit that I can see how being attached to a sobbing child would make someone want to run for the hills. And apparently, I'm not the only one. Ullman made this proposal during last year's BAHFest, an annual meeting where highly intelligent people present way-out-there ideas. Attendees there voted it the best of the event.