New discoveries in neurobiology and psychology have lead doctors, scientists and psychologists to discover and establish that the healthy bonding with parents in the first two years of a child’s life is so important for the healthy development of our children.
Mothers and grandmothers, fathers and grandfathers have always known they have the most important, demanding and beautiful role to play in bringing up a child and now science is confirming to us the importance of loving nurture in the emotional, social and cognitive development of our children. The Beatles got it right with ” all you need is love”.
The way to develop and grow a strong bond with a baby and young child is not rocket science, it’s common sense. We can make it a lot easier if we take time to make ourselves present and available.It’s hugging, gentle touching with skin to skin contact. It’s the soft voice of a mother singing and tender smiles at night. It’s the eye to eye contact when feeding and giggles during the day. It’s the playfulness at bath time. These all may seem simple and obvious, but it is now known these precious moments are building bonds and connections in making your child feel safe and at the same time building emotional strength and resilience.
New science has established that by the age of three our child’s brain has reached 90% of its adult capacity. This highlights the need for us to give as much love and affection in these early developmental years as we possibly can. We all want to buy nice baby clothes and toys and decorate a new room, but it is the simple gift of our loving presence that is so important to our young children.
In my practice as an energetic healer I have so many clients coming to me with discomfort that we carefully trace back to early issues with a lack of childhood bonding. I work with many symptoms like anxiety, depression, addiction, perfectionism, feelings of abandonment and even low self-esteem, that can be rooted in the lack of bonding we receive as a child.We started last week’s article on self-acceptance deliberately, for self acceptance opens us up to be fully present and understanding of our own needs which in turn opens us up to be fully present and aware of the needs of others, especially our little ones.As mothers these days, we have so little time to prepare for motherhood. If we are fortunate, we still have a close and honest relationship with our own mothers, and if we are especially fortunate we also have a close relationship with a grandmother.
Sadly today, very few of us live or feel close to our families and communities of origin so the usual way we would learn as future mothers to mother is limited. It is therefore important not to isolate or try to do it all by yourself alone as we do in big cities. Bonding with a community of other mothers helps for sharing your experience early on and is very important for our own growth as a parent. It is important to share your feelings with others you trust. Some mothers experience mixed feelings in having a child. It’s good to share these and not judge yourself at such a time of hormonal imbalances.
Many mothers will at some stage go through the baby blues. This is normal and passes within a few days or weeks. Make sure you are gentle and tender with yourself at this stage. Don’t fight it. A simple mantra like ”this too shall pass” will remind you this is not forever. For me, it came after forty days with each child when the feelings of euphoria wear off and there is a realization that one’s life will never be the same again. Childbirth always has with it many strong feelings and mixed emotions and in most cases these feelings balance out over the first few months. Approximately 15% of woman in the USA will experience some form of postpartum depression or PPD which is more serious and these women should be encouraged to receive help. If left unattended, a mother can really suffer with PPD. So, moms there is no shame in asking for help and no honor in suffering silently.
I mentioned earlier in this article that it is our love and presence that our newborns needs for nourishment on so many different levels and if we have just one child we can often focus and do this well. However even with one child, our husbands or partners will feel the special exclusive bond we all have with a newborn child and we must be aware of this dynamic and make sure we do not drop the bond we have with our partners. Even the most loving partner will react when they see and feel the unconditional open intimate love a mother shares with her new baby . Many wish they too could experience such love and intimacy, so it is important to make time to be with your partner even if it’s for a short walk, warm hug or a meal out together. Our children feel safer when they experience and feel the close bond and love with their parents.
Often this can be as simple as including our partner and sharing the love we have so our partner can also give love to our child in their own way and be included. This may seem simple but we as mothers need to be aware of reaching out to partners in small ways even when we will not feel like doing so to stop our partners from feeling dropped or even abandoned.
Keeping bonding and connection with our partners is very important, but what about keeping the bond with our other children? Depending on the age of your other children they will feel the change in connection with their mother in different ways before and most definitely with the arrival and presence of a new child. As a rule it’s a good investment of time to include your child or children in the lead up to birth, to talk through the birth itself, sharing the birth experiences you had with them and caring for the new arrival in the family.As much as possible, make it an inclusive experience that each child feels they have an important special part to play. Use story telling to get your points across and even though you will be tired, make sure you keep track of your other children’s reactions and make small adjustments as you go rather than wait for a huge emotional reaction from your other children. One way to help the process, is to remind everyone that we all are different and have unique gifts to share. As with our partners, our children will have mixed feelings about the new arrival. On one hand feelings of love, caring and excitement, and on the other hand, feelings of being displaced or overlooked or not acknowledged or even envy, jealousy and resentment. It’s important not to make the feelings of your younger children wrong, but to listen to them and get to understand their fears and vulnerabilities at such a time. We all know having a new baby is so time consuming and there will most likely be times when you are exhausted, but taking time out with your partner and other children will save so much time and heartbreak in the future and will help bring about self-healing with your own childhood experience.
In remembering even when we are stressed out, exhausted, frustrated and tired, we all have available to us the ability to choose love and kindness knowing that this is what makes for a happy bonded child and family. This is an admirable aim and I know through first hand experience, at times we will all fall short of reaching such a goal. At times, this is going to seem or be impossible, but it’s so important even when we react from a place other than love we quickly remember to start over again and not to be so hard on ourselves and in such a moment demonstrate self-love, for our kids do what we do, not what we say….