'My 18 year old stepdaughter still sucks on a dummy. What should I do?'

What did parents, step-parents, and the general population do before they could turn to the World Wide Web for advice on literally any matter that arose? Who knows, and thank goodness we don’t have to worry about it because we have all the answers and opinions right at our fingertips at a moment’s notice.

There is truly no end to strange questions and situations and in most scenarios where the subject matter is a little unusual, you can generally rely on the good folk of the interwebs to give you and yours a right roasting and knock you down a peg or two.

That’s why I was mightily surprised, and actually rather impressed when I read some responses to a stepmother’s plea for ways to get her 18-year-old (yes, that’s years, not months) to stop sucking a dummy to sleep at night.

On this week’s episode of Mamamia Out Loud, the podcast with what women are talking about, Holly Wainwright, Mia Freedman and Jessie Stephens discussed how Elf on the Shelf is everything that’s wrong with modern parenting. Post continues.

If you’re a parent who has used dummies (the bloody miracle, noise-silencing, some-say-speech-delaying and tooth-mangling miracles they are), you’ll be well aware of the judgement and scorn that surrounds the use of these polarising pieces of plastic and rubber. I personally am well-versed in it; having had two children who were completely addicted to theirs until the age of four (the third kid wouldn’t take one, despite my best efforts to force them into his screamy little gob).

Anyway, back to the 18-year-old comfort sucker.

“My 18-year-old stepdaughter still sucks on a dummy while she sleeps,” the concerned (and possibly embarrassed) parent wrote on Quora.

“We thought we’d weaned her off it six months ago, but I found another dummy in her bedroom. What can I do?”


I’m going to be completely honest here; I clicked into the thread because I was so ready for the torrent of responses that pondered why in the hell someone who is old enough to marry, vote, and tote a gun in the US of A needed a baby’s pacifier to sleep. I was feeling pretty damn judgemental frankly, but as it turns out, it was I who was to be humbled by the responses.

The vast majority of replies, far from judging the 18-year-old in question, questioned instead why it was any of her step mother’s business how she gets to sleep.

“Anything that can help a person sleep and that doesn’t hurt her or anyone else is fine,” replied Megan Goodson.

“You may not like it or approve of it but are you really going to mess up her sleeping habits because you are uncomfortable?”

Another person said that far from the dummy being the issue, “your over involvement is the most concerning aspect of the question. If she is a neurotypical 18-year-old with no disability, perhaps she should be afforded the dignity and privacy extended to her to allow for her to fall asleep comfortably without worry of judgement.”

Yet others shared their own experiences of being adults who still relied on “childish” comforts such as special blankets, night-lights, and thumb sucking to feel secure and fall asleep.

To round off the argument, many sensible posters pointed out that as far as habits go, sucking on a dummy at night is preferable to drinking, drugs, or smoking, and that it’s time for the original poster to take a step back, respect her step daughter’s privacy and stay the hell out of her room – especially when she’s sleeping.