Mothers are not only important figures Knowledge and the environment | DW

Mother’s love, mother tongue, mother earth – my mother is the best! The bond between children and mothers is a very special foundation for human development, as it helps build essential trust.

Of course, parents can develop a loving relationship with their child, but above all, the image of a caring mother and the resulting close relationship with the child are firmly rooted in the collective consciousness, especially in the West.

early childhood bonding

Certainly there are also “tough mothers” and not all of them have a good relationship with the mother, but the mother is generally seen as the one who protects the child from the very beginning, from the first physical contact, the so-called “bonding” immediately after birth.

Above all, the mother feels the needs of the child, finds comfort here, she is safe here. The Swiss teacher Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi said at the end of the eighteenth century: “A mother is the only person in the world who loves you before she even knows you.” How nice that this goes so well with Mother’s Day!

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This method of upbringing, in which the mother in particular, as the most important associated personality, responds to all the needs of the child throughout life, has its origins in attachment theory. This theory was developed by British psychoanalyst and child psychiatrist John Bowlby. This theory is considered the gold standard of educational methods especially in the West.

Bowlby systematically studied orphaned children with developmental disabilities due to separation from their mothers. In many students with behavioral problems and juvenile thieves, he noted that early mothers’ bonds were severely severed. With the publication of his book in 1969 Attachment – an analysis of the relationship between mother and child In addition to the disabling factors, he also included the supporting factors in the mother-child relationship.

Condolences from the attached number

According to attachment theory, a person is the attachment figure that a child looks for, for example, when they fall off a swing or who cries especially when they break up, explains child and adolescent psychiatrist Karl-Heinz Brych. He is an advocate of attachment theory. This intimate rapprochement occurs within about a year, explains a professor at the Paracelsus Medical University in Salzburg.

Thus, bonding means a long-term emotional attachment with very specific people that cannot be arbitrarily replaced. The child looks for your closeness and support when they are no longer able to deal independently with pain, fear or grief.

According to Brech, the characteristics of the attachment personality include a sensitive personality that reacts to the feelings of the child. Spending time together is not enough alone. Only those who take care of them can comfort a crying child. Only then does the attachment form work as needed.

Doubts about the public

However, there are also criticisms of this attachment theory. For example, in her book Myth of Attachment Theory, Heidi Keeler, a psychologist at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, criticized the fact that attachment theory claims universal validity in the West.

After all, it is not uncommon in many cultures for only the parents to take care of the child – relatives, grandparents, siblings and neighbors also play a major role in their upbringing. In many cultures, infants and young children are cared for, says Keeler, through social networks. As a professor of psychology, Heidi Keeler has spent decades researching how children are brought up in different cultures. For this, she was on the road in African countries, in India, South America, the USA, Europe and the Middle East – in big cities and remote villages.

grandfather and grandson

Relatives, grandparents, siblings and neighbors also played a major role in the upbringing

It is critical to emotionally healthy development that he or she gets enough love and attention from a caregiver in childhood. Nor do they have to be mothers or fathers. Connecting with others is especially important for acquiring and expanding social skills. Only children will benefit from this.

Plus, the constant availability, and the need to constantly respond to the baby’s desires, can lead to fatigue or exhaustion in some women, says Keeler. Because in the end, the mother is usually alone – often without the father.

Insightful long-term study

Keeler points to a historical, long-term study by American psychologists Amy Werner and Ruth Smith, who have followed hundreds of children for more than 40 years, all born on the island of Kauai in 1955.

A third of children grew up in difficult family circumstances or in poverty. However, these children developed successfully and without any behavioral problems. According to the study, the reason for this was not attachment to the mother or father – but relationships with peers, neighbors, teachers, or even surrogate parents. From a psychologist’s point of view, it’s not a theory, but a good relationship with a connected personality who cares and is helpful in raising children.

Attachment has nothing to do with kinship

Psychologist Paul Watzlawick once wrote, “You cannot be too careful when choosing your parents,” because the closest person you relate to or associate with in early childhood bears an enormous formative responsibility, after all, many mental illnesses have their origins in childhood.

Child and adolescent psychiatrist Karl-Heinz Frisch also asserts that children prioritize and usually have one or two associated personalities: “Children usually form hierarchies, depending on who treats them most sensitively.” It does not have to be the mother and the father, but it can also be other people.

“Breathing has nothing to do with a biological relationship,” Brisch explains. There is no scientific evidence that children are more attracted to blood relatives.

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