Singer Maren Morris has been spending a lot of time at home with her son Hayes since his birth in March, for obvious reasons, and it seems that she’s also had a lot of time to think about her parenting style. In a recent interview with People, she talked about her latest plan to stop speaking to him in a high-pitched voice — which may now make other parents wonder if this is something we’re supposed to do.
“There are habits we’re trying to break. Like, not talking to him in a high-pitched baby voice is so hard, but I don’t want to talk to him like I do my dogs,” Morris told People. “I was reading a French parenting book [that said] your kid isn’t the boss, you are. That’s been a thing we’re trying to stick by.”
So, these are two separate issues that we don’t want to conflate.
First, the high-pitched voice, also known as motherese or infant-directed speech to researchers. This is a universal way parents all over the world naturally change their pitch, vowel enunciation, vocabulary, and timbre when talking to babies. Most scientists believe it’s actually a good thing. Studies of infants show they actually prefer infant-directed speech over adult-directed speech. What’s more, they’ve also found that parents gradually adjust their speech over time, possibly in accordance with babies’ development. This is probably something we do inherently in order to teach our babies how to speak and express themselves. And, btw, there are subtle differences between how we talk to babies versus pets, because we’re not exactly concerned with teaching our animals how to speak.
As for books on French parenting, this was all the rage about eight years ago when Bringing Up Bébé came out. The idea is that French mothers don’t coddle their children, don’t condescend to them, and don’t make their entire lives revolve around their kids. This is really more a matter of personal preference than being better or worse than Americans’ style of raising children. Some would rather their children be well-behaved, while others are all about supporting their individual expression, even if that means tantrums and phases of eating nothing but white food.
We somehow doubt Morris is going to go to either extreme, judging by this other quote from her People interview.
“Ryan and I are both pretty laid back,” she said of her husband, Ryan Hurd. “We kind of lucked out having a very chill baby. We’re pretty chill people, so maybe that’s reflected in our kid.”
Whatever she chooses to do, we’re sure baby Hayes will be just fine.