Love, God's for his Children

Love, Godís for His Children

by Rubel Shelly

Published in LoveLines (May 24, 1995)

Who Loves the Ugly Babies?

Two psychologists have just completed a study that suggests some babies have a difficult time being accepted ó even by their own parents. One newspaper headline for the report put it this way: "Ugly babies get less love from moms."

The researchers asked 40 people to judge the attractiveness of 144 newborns from photographs. Then they observed how the infantsí mothers interacted with those babies at the hospital and three months later at home. The results were disturbing, to say the least.

The mothers who had babies judged "handsome" by the panel paid them more attention. The moms with less attractive children took more notice of the infants surrounding theirs and were less affectionate with their own offspring.

Furthermore, homelier babies were regarded as more of a hindrance in their parentsí lives.

Perhaps some comfort can be taken in the fact that three months after the births, the mothers were as affectionate with less attractive girls as with pretty ones. The bad news on this score is that homely boys continued to get less affectionate care.

Whatís going on here? If this study is correct, we may have a preliminary indicator about why some children are more likely to get in trouble than others. Children reason that even negative attention (i.e., shouting, spanking, etc.) is preferable to being ignored.

And whatís going in the heads of the parents? Are babies worth loving only if they are cute, pick up tricks quickly, and ultimately show they are smart? If so, they are being judged by the same standards as puppies and kittens. But our children are our own flesh and blood! They are worth loving for no other reason than that.

Abortion "cures the problem" for some parents who donít want their lives inconvenienced. Other children will be tolerated along a scale that ranges from "abuse" on one end to "neglect" on the other. And what about the infant with a cleft palette, club foot, or Downís Syndrome? Shall we assume they are not worth loving?

How grateful I am to be Godís child! He doesnít love just the performing and productive babies in his family. He loves those of us who have prominent spiritual deformities, ugly scars, and personality defects.

God loves even the ugly babies in his nursery. Hallelujah! And what a relief.

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