A happy child in a colorless room
On influencer culture, beige walls, and the only thing that really matters to early childhood development.
It's hazardous to take any news report on trends with any degree of seriousness. After all, what is a trend other than an arbitrary choice that happens to have been noticed by the right people? But sometimes trend stories really do identify patterns that are starting to emerge.
■ The Wall Street Journal has identified the rise of "sad beige" in baby (or toddler and child) departments in stores everywhere. They trace it back to social-media "influencers" and marketing departments who have advanced a mainly color-free approach to interior decorating -- and who, in turn, apply the same philosophy to child-rearing.
■ Some people are simply lazy and find it easy to mix and match things like clothing and linens when everything comes from the same bland palette. It's not high-minded reasoning, but it sticks in some quarters. Others are motivated by the theory that subdued colors will bring calm to the household environment and keep from "over-stimulating" the young brain.
■ If, as that theory would have it, children are formed mainly by the stuff all around them, then someone would need to explain how anyone made it out of the Middle Ages without emerging as a broken spirit. Or how any normality survived exposure to, say, the 1850s.
■ Child development isn't a function of environmental colors. (It might make a marginal difference for a child to be exposed to a wide range of stimuli, but it's not the core determinant.) In reality, it has always been about the love and care and attention paid to kids by families.
■ And it has always been that way. Abraham Lincoln's childhood wasn't shaped by the color of his dirt floors, but by the love he felt from his mother and stepmother. What matters most is whether children can develop secure attachments.
■ It is pure nonsense to let Instagram-driven theories prevail. The job of parenting isn't done by pulling the "right" hues out of a catalog. It's done, one-on-one, by attending to the child's needs and showing them affection.