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Our children are depending on us to make the right choice

A baby’s first cries indicate a primordial need for love and for the human touch… of his mother. When my babies were placed in my arms shortly after birth, those who were wailing stopped immediately at the sound of my voice. It was a pause of bonding, of recognition, of comfort, of security. Other mothers report the same. Our babies need us.

Studies show infants in orphanages deprived of maternal love and care, soon fail to thrive, and if denied of any human interaction, these infants can die. [1]If the complete taking away of physical and emotional support of a child eventually leads to that child’s demise, imagine what other, perhaps lesser denials can do to affect negatively a growing human person- perhaps not death, but surely serious consequences that can affect one for the rest of his life. A lack of attachment to others and insecurity are certainly very possible.

With continued lack of bonding and parental interaction, susceptible individuals may even grow up seeking familial type unity and acceptance in immature associations such as non-adult guided cliques or even harmful associations such as gangs. This simply follows logic and is not an exaggeration.  While some children may recover from early neglect, others do not. Children need consistent one-on-one, good mothering to grow up securely and well adjusted, to thrive. And these needs are not just for the child in the moment, but also for the adult he becomes. English novelist George Eliot said, “Life began with waking up and loving my mother’s face.” Abraham Lincoln pondered, “All that I am or hope to be I owe to my angel mother.”

Mothers attentive presence matters.

Some studies of orphans have shown that early institutionalization changed both the structure and the function of the brain. Any time spent in an institution shrunk the volume of gray matter, or brain cell bodies, in the brain. Kids who stayed in the orphanages instead of going to foster care also had less white matter, or the fat-covered tracts between brain cell bodies, than kids who, at a young age, moved in with families. [2] A natural conclusion is that the reduced brain cell bodies handicaps a child’s achievement and stunts natural ability.

Is it a jump to apply these results of institutionalized orphans to children institutionalized in daycare? Perhaps sweepingly, yes, it might be a jump. After all, parents pick up their children from daycare, and bring them home at the end of the day. But when you consider that the typical amount of time that a day-cared child is home with parents after a 6 pm pick up (perhaps just two short hours until bedtime and sleep), and that while requirements vary from state to state, it is not uncommon for a caregiver: child ratio to be 10:1, day care does constitute a form of institutionalization, devoid of consistent one-on-one interaction with a loving parent, and institutionalization is not good for children.  Will the consequences for the day cared children and orphans  be the same? Possibly, yes, especially for the least resilient and more needy of the children.

Mother’s loving presence can change society because it affects individuals who grow up to live in it, make decisions in it, function in it and potentially lead in it. While the politicians in Washington propose and hash out potential solutions for the most challenging economic, financial, cultural and social problems in American society, the answer to them, ironically, is literally in our own backyards. The solutions are in our own homes, in the arms of mother, overseen and protected by father. A married mother and father where one parent is home when the child is home, is the best insurance for a child’s best outcome. Further, a loving intact family with one parent nurturing and guiding the children full time is the hope of the nation, a nation which desperately needs stability, responsibility and respectability.

By early institutionalizing our greatest natural resources, our children, then we not only tragically fail those children, but we also fail our nation and its future. At that point, we have no one to blame for the outcome but ourselves. .

For more reading, please consider:

HOME BY CHOICE: Creating Emotional Security in Children by Brenda Hunter, PhD

In Praise of Stay at Home Moms by Dr. Laura Schlessinger, PhD

Motherhood Matters by Dorothy Pilarski