Why a mother’s love is so significant
What is special about the lifelong bonds that mothers share with their daughters and sons?
The mother-child bond is perhaps one of the strongest human connections.
While much of that connection may be due to the natural instinct that wells up from the moment a mother first sees her child, science is shedding some light on why some mother-child bonds are particularly strong.
Researchers studying mother-and daughter relationships have found that brain chemistry may play a role in this connection.
Mother and daughter brains have similar structures and patterns for empathy, and the part of the brain that regulates emotions is also alike in mothers and daughters.
So, a mother may more easily be able to imagine how her daughter is feeling in different circumstances than she may be able to put herself in her son’s shoes.
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Empathy and awareness
“I think mothers and daughters are more empathetic and socially aware — there’s a female-to-female understanding and similarities that mothers can’t have with their boys,” neuropsychotherapist Joanne Wilson says.
“The male brain is more black-and-white and logic-focused.”
Janice Williams, a mother-daughter relationship counsellor and coach, agrees that mothers and daughters can share a greater affinity.
“I think mothers have had similar experiences to their daughters and that can make the bond stronger,” Janice says.
“Mothers can relate to girls going through puberty — dads don’t experience that.
“Mothers can often see themselves in their daughters, too — daughters are like holding up a mirror.”
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Care and respect
While mothers and daughters may share particularly close bonds, the connections between mothers and their sons are equally as important, particularly in the early years.
“Boys see their mother as warm and caring — in many ways she is their first love,” Janice says.
“Mums have a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate to their sons what it is to be a woman and how men can treat women with respect.
“They can show their sons that women have their own opinions and thoughts that should be acknowledged.”
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How to build beautiful relationships with your kids
Raising Children Network director Derek McCormack encourages parents to build an environment of trust and respect from a young age.
“Make your child feel they are in a safe place where their needs are important,” Derek says.
It’s also important to be in the moment and check you are present with your children.
“Create quality time — at what points in the day can you do something together?” Derek says.
Tune in to tweens and teens and notice behaviour changes.
“Try to remember that, for older and even adult children, you are more than a source of practical or financial support,” Derek says.
Janice adds: “Mums can give so much and receive crumbs of love and attention back so they need to take care of themselves and recognise they are more than a carer doing things for their children.”
And Joanne advises, “don’t micro-manage your son or daughter’s life.
“The worst thing you can do is to do too much for them.”
Written by Sarah Marinos.