The Special Bond of Mothers and Their Children
Alexa Montecillo (The Freeman) - May 13, 2018 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Mothers are generally perceived as having that “special bond” with their children. This general perception is continually and increasingly strengthened by such human devices as the arts, like literature and drama. But there have also been many cases of disrespect, hatred, and even cruelty between mothers and their children.

Even in the rapidly changing society, mothers continue to be presumed nurturers of their children more than fathers are. Mothers are believed to have a superior “maternal instinct” as part of a woman’s biology. The nine months of pregnancy, hormones and parenting experiences supposedly create a stronger bond between mothers and their children. 

Some scholars argue that the relationship between parents and children actually begin before birth. They claim that such “antenatal bonding” – feeling connected to the unborn baby – is an important predictor of the infant-mother relationship. While actual evidence linking feelings about the baby during pregnancy with post-natal behavior is not clear – if the bond created during pregnancy also influence the mother-child relationship after birth – most people tend to just know that there is a connection.

A substance called oxytocin, commonly heralded as the bonding hormone, is known to be released in large amounts during birth and breastfeeding phase to help in mother-and-child bonding. Certain experiences are said to stimulate the release of oxytocin. Motherly behaviors such as baby-talk, staring into the baby’s eyes and affectionate touch are found to raise oxytocin levels in mothers.

However, less well known is that fathers experience rises in oxytocin equal to mothers as a result of interacting with their infants. There are, however, differences between mothers and fathers in the types of interaction that seems to produce these rises in oxytocin. This rise in oxytocin levels has also been observed in fathers when moving their baby around or presenting objects to the little one – but the rise is not as much as in mothers.

Even in the case of adoptive parents, the adopted child tends to attach to the mother faster than to the father. Researchers believe this is likely to be because mothers stay home with the child more often than fathers. And so mothers are more alert to the child’s experience, and understanding and responding to a child’s needs in a more sensitive manner. Fathers, on the other hand, have the traditional roles as breadwinners, rather than caregivers, in the family.

Overall, there is no observable difference between biological mothers and adoptive mothers in terms of their relationship with their children.  Mothers are mothers to their children; on the surface, it’s difficult whether they’re maternal mothers or not. It is in the very nature of mothers to nurture and love their young – to be willing to throw themselves in harm’s way for the sake of their children.

For sure, factors like antenatal bonding, hormones, experiences, and the mothers’ own childhoods all interact together to influence their bonds with their children. Between a mother and her child, a beautiful relationship just naturally happens.

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