Beyond Freud

A dose of common sense.

Mothers and Mother's Day

Helping mothers themselves find their own expertise with their children.

For all children, "My mommy" is the most important person in the world. Mom gratifies our needs, takes care of our hurts, and is our first teacher. But she is also the one who can intrude into our personal space and is the first one to limit and control us. It is only expectable that images from this powerful early relationship are emblazoned in our memories-images of an idealized Madonna-like figure existing side by side with more ambivalently-held negative images.

Mother's Day

On May 9, 1914, Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed Mother's Day to be celebrated on the second Sunday in May. In our American culture the importance of Mother's Day came to be as universally celebrated as any holiday can be.

In honor of Mother's Day, I would like to share some thoughts and feelings mothers have shared with me over the years.

Becoming a Mother

Many mothers speak about their struggles making the transition into motherhood, especially balancing their own personal needs with the needs for their children. For some mothers setting up a job which they can do from home is very helpful. Others make sure that they schedule nights out with their husbands or partners. Hiring a regular part-time or full time caregiver or having their own mothers participate in the childcare can have a positive impact.

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Every new mother wants to be valued, supported, aided, taught, and appreciated by her own mothering figure-whether it is her own mother or another older woman to help her, to take care of her, and to validate her new status as a mother herself.

Consistency

For many mothers, it is very important to retain a feeling of normalcy. Not everything has to change, despite the transformative aspects of motherhood. This transformation may make women anxious because of the sense that everything in their lives has changed, or must change, as a result of becoming a mother. Creating predictable routines and activities can be soothing and helpful.

Support

For all mothers it is important to maintain comfortable relationships with friends, family, adults who help with the child care. It can be especially helpful to develop relationships with other mothers who have young children. And, mother support groups can be very helpful in dealing with the developmental strains that children experience.

There is no one right way to raise children

Of course, certain child rearing practices should be avoided, such as corporal punishment (see: http://apsa.org/About_APsaA/Position_Statements/Physical_Punishment.aspx).  And, in fact, if a mother feels that her child's actions ruffle her nerves to such a degree that she may inflict physical harm to her child, she should ask her health care provider for someone who can listen to her and help her navigate her stressful state.

However, regardless of the degree of stress a mother experiences, she will gradually learn that professionals are most effective when they help mothers themselves find their own expertise with their children. A blanket prescription cannot be given. Each mother, each child, each mother-child unit, and each family is unique. And, this uniqueness needs to be nurtured and enriched to promote the child and family's growth and development.

As mothers gain experience with their children they will come to believe that they themselves are the true experts for their children.

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

http://www.theparentchildcenter.org

Leon Hoffman, M.D. is the Co-director of the Pacella Parent Child Center, New York Psychoanalytic Society and Institute. He is a member of the American Psychoanalytic Association.

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