There’s a popular theory these days that mothers are being tyrannized by their young. All the gains The Women’s Movement made in freeing women from men’s tyranny is now being undone by children, says the theory. Women are giving birth, then feeling compelled by guilt to chuck their careers in favour of full-time mothering. Breast feeding further enslaves the woman. Just as men once demanded that their wives stay home to look after the house and the well-being of the male, babies now keep mother at home sacrificing her career. Someone else can raise the babies, says this point of view. Young women should not give up their position in the work world just to nurse and raise their young.
Women are missing out? I heartily disagree. First of all, women who raise an infant gain a whole new level of maturity and wisdom. Mothers and babies are naturally symbiotic. From this intimate relationship women gain a heightened ability to empathize and gain sensitivity to another’s emotions in a way other women miss out on. The love an infant shows for the mother is unparalleled and gives the woman an experience of wonderful tenderness.
Providing the woman has good self-esteem – which allows her to set appropriate limits on her beloved child as the child becomes autonomous – we have a happy family. A problem can occur when a woman with low self-esteem needs her child’s approval and friendship. This woman won’t be able to set limits and her child will end up tyrannizing her.
What about the children raised by loving, content mothers? For a little girl whose mother mirrors to her that she is important, interesting and valuable, the future is bright and predictably happy. Little boys raised by such a woman will never resort to violence against women – or anybody else – for that matter. Imagine the men and women these mothers will raise. They’ll be self-confident, secure in their own worth and sensitive to others’ feelings.
Give us enough of these mothers and we could change the world!
It’s all very simple for the woman who has high self-esteem, is happy at home with baby and can afford to devote her energies to her offspring. But what of the woman who becomes depressed and angry about being trapped at home with baby? This can’t be good for either baby or mother. It’s a complex issue.
I’d really like to hear from you about this complicated subject. Please leave your thoughts in the comment section below.