You have no items in your cart. Want to get some nice things?Go shopping
The relationship between mother and child is the most fascinating and beautiful of all human relationships. It’s inspired poets, artists, and authors since the beginning of time.
For nine months a mother and child’s spirits and bodies are intertwined; you can’t tell where one ends and another begins. Their hearts pump the same blood and their nervous systems are completely in sync. When the baby’s little heart is ready to beat, six weeks after fertilization, the mother’s body places a few drops of her own blood in the baby’s heart to begin his/her life.
The mother’s blood is mixed with the baby’s blood and even filled with the baby’s stem cells. Scientists found that pregnant mothers diagnosed with certain heart diseases healed miraculously compared to non-pregnant women. How? From those free floating stem cells. These stem cells are flowing through the mother’s blood looking for damaged cells to heal. Years later scientists found the DNA of each child still in the mother’s body, literally knit in her heart.
Nature vs. Nurture
Any person who spends time around children can see that girls are born with an innate sense to nurture. I believe we were taught and trained in the premortal realm to love and nurture babies and children. I imagine we were nurtured by our own Heavenly Mother before we came to Earth. So, what does it mean to nurture? It means to encourage growth; to nourish the mind, heart, and soul. “It refers to a number of parenting behaviors including attachment, warmth, support, recognizing the individuality of each child, and attending to children’s needs.”
“I have always believed that part of our strength as women is in being more nurturing, empathic, more sensitive emotionally, and more attuned to the nuances of relationships than most men. There has been a new call for women to be leaders in the corporate world, in business, and in politics, but our strength as leaders begins at home with our ability to feel for and nurture our own children.” Erika Komisar, Being There p. 190
The attachment between a mother and child is emotional, psychological, and even physical. This attachment is what makes us our child’s best teacher.
We have a selfless love for our children, one that keeps us from giving up on them, even when all hope seems lost. We know their strengths, their weaknesses, and unique personalities better than anyone else in the world. Heavenly Father gave us stewardship over our children, and commanded us to teach and train them. We were chosen to be the mothers for our individual children, and although we may not know why, we must have faith that there is a reason He chose us to be the mother of our children.
While a mother is not the only role we hold as a woman, it is one of the most important. The most damaging lie Satan tells mothers is that we are replaceable. He says it doesn’t matter who takes care of your children or how much time you spend with them. Motherhood is a waste of your talents.
But nothing could be further from the truth.
Quality, Not Quantity
Children, especially young children, need their mothers. When it comes to spending time together, children need both quality and quantity. A child needs an abundance of unstructured time with his parents to feel comfortable enough to share his deepest thoughts and feelings. It takes time to warm up before a person can begin connecting, and this process cannot be rushed.
There have been a few studies released showing that quality is more important than quantity when it comes to parents’ time with children. One key study reporting that quantity doesn’t matter was from Melissa Milkie at the University of Toronto. Milkie and her co-authors found that the amount of time spent with parents doesn’t seem to matter. However, if you read the study in its entirety this only applies to children age 3-11. The quantity of time parents spend does indeed matter for infants, toddlers, and adolescents. Researchers discovered that the more time a teen spends engaged with their mother, the fewer instances of delinquent behavior. And the more time teens spend with both their parents together in family time, such as during meals, the less likely they are to abuse drugs and alcohol and engage in other risky or illegal behavior. And as an added bonus they also achieve higher math scores.
A mother’s physical and emotional presence in the first three years of life is extremely important.
In two large studies done in Canada and the United States, researchers discovered the social development of children who spent large amounts of time in out-of-home care suffered significantly compared with peers who spent their early years at home. Even after controlling for things like socioeconomic status, parent’s education, etc. The research study in the United States concluded that “extensive hours in daycare early in life predicted negative behavioral outcomes throughout development, even to the final assessment at 15 years old.”
You’re thinking “Wait, wait, wait. There are studies showing positive effects of attending out-of-home childcare!” Yes, there are some studies showing positive outcomes from attending early childcare. There was a slight increase in vocabulary in children who attended versus those who didn’t. And there were positive outcomes for children from neglectful, abusive homes. So, if your child is neglected, abused or you don’t speak to your child often then early childhood education may be a good option for your child. For everyone else, learning at home with their mother seems to be the ideal situation for young children.
“There is enough research, statistical evidence, and case material from my own work and that of my colleagues to make a strong argument that as a society we are failing our children; there has been a dramatic increase in emotional, social, and behavioral difficulties like ADHD, anxiety, depression, and increased aggression in children from toddlerhood through adolescence,” says Erica Komisar–a mother, psychoanalyst, and social worker.
But is it really that bad?
- Childhood mental illness has increased at such a rate that the anxiety an average child feels today was once considered a psychiatric disorder in the early 20th century. In fact, “rates of depression and anxiety among young people in America have been increasing steadily for the past 50 to 70 years. Today, by at least some estimates, five to eight times as many high school and college students meet the criteria for a diagnosis of major depression and/or anxiety disorder as was true half a century or more ago. This increased psychopathology is not the result of changed diagnostic criteria; it holds even when the measures and criteria are constant.” (“Decline of Play and Rise in Mental Illness”, Peter Gray)
- In a 2011 CDC reported there has been a 400 percent increase of prescriptions for antidepressant medications to children over the age of twelve years since 1988. In fact, 11 percent of Americans over the age of twelve now take antidepressants.
- It’s not just depression and anxiety, A new study from the Children’s Hospital Association shows there’s been a 40 percent increase in children being diagnosed with disruptive behavior disorders. This could be anything from ADHD to anxiety. These disorders have significant negative impact on a child’s future success and happiness (source)
- Teen suicide increased 60% between 2007 and 2018, and increased another 50% during the pandemic.
- Kids today are more self-absorbed than previous generations. Teens are now 40% lower in empathy levels than three decades ago, and in the same period, narcissism has increased 58%.
- Bullying has increased schools. One study showed youth bullying increasing a whopping 52% in just four years (2003-2007) and we now see bullying in children as young as three.
- Increase in cheating and weaker moral reasoning. A majority of college students say “cheating is necessary to get ahead,” and 70 % admit to cheating. Not surprisingly, cheating is also on an upswing. The most typical kind of moral reasoning among recent undergraduates is focused on personal interests, not on what’s right for others.
- Even though intelligence has increased with each generation, creativity has slowly decreased with each generation since 1990.
What is it about a mothers care that is so special? Simply put, the mother-child attachment affects brain development. A mother’s physical and emotional presence helps children regulate stress by producing hormones that counteract stress. It is much more difficult (nearly impossible) for babies to regulate that stress when their mothers aren’t near, no matter how loving the replacement caregiver is. Separation from their mother is extremely stressful for infants. When a baby’s brain is flooded with stress hormones it actually delays the growth of the prefrontal cortex. Stress delays development, and chronic stress alters the brain. A mothers touch, her voice, and even her smell produces oxytocin, the hormone that counteracts stress and allows the infant’s brain to focus on development again.
Warm and responsive mothering builds a child’s brain better than anything else. Giving your full attention to them while they play, making eye contact and listening while they speak, responding to their cries, giving love and assurance when they are upset, cuddling together and reading books, and spending time outdoors exploring the world with their five senses. These are exactly the simple, but powerful things that mothers do.
In our quest to modernize motherhood we have lost the art of nurturing. The ancient wisdom of motherhood is becoming extinct as more of us look to the world for guidance. And slowly our confidence falters, and we abdicate our sacred role to the government, schools, and other institutions.
But there is hope. I’m witnessing a resurgence of mothers looking for more meaning in motherhood. Their souls yearn for the knowledge and skills needed to nurture their children’s hearts and minds. I see the need, and I feel the desire.
Charlotte Mason, a 19th century educator wisely observed that “Mother’s work wonders once they are convinced wonders are demanded of them.”
And that’s why this podcast was born. To convince mothers of their powerful influence, and equip them with the knowledge they need to nurture their children’s hearts and minds.
Mothers: you are the answer, your nurturing is the cure.