Mothers, without a doubt, play an important role in their children’s lives. Their care, affection, time, and insight help in keeping children grounded and provide them with a sense of stability wherever they go in life. But before we jump into the specifics of how exactly is it that mothers do this and so much more, let’s talk about a couple of things first.
For a society like ours to function, there are certain roles each individual has to perform. We take up different roles and responsibilities in different areas of life. Parents are at the core of one such area – the institution of the family. They have immense influence and control over their children and have the ability to shape how their children see and interact with the world around them. What we say, do, how adults react in situations – every little thing affects the child for good or for bad.
The presence of parent/s is thus invaluable to a child’s healthy and proper development. But when we say roles and responsibilities, we consciously or unconsciously attribute certain roles to certain people. Fortunately, slowly and steadily we are witnessing a shift in these roles. Change is what sustains society and only does its inability to adapt and encourage change that creates tension, resentment, and feelings of unacceptance.
So, for example, women have been assigned the job of the primary caregiver in a family. All responsibilities that come with childbearing and childcare are thrust upon them. This narrow idea of parenthood and what it looks like has been fed to us for so long and so vehemently that these days, if a father stays at home to take care of the kids for an afternoon while the mother goes out, it is called “babysitting” – would we use the same term if the mother did so? No, right? Because parenting our own children is just that – parenting.
Meanwhile, the many sacrifices women have to make in order to take care of their children, regarding career, freedom, and health – go unrecognized. This thinking is damaging and unfair in numerous ways. It limits the freedom of women, erases their individuality. It takes away the equal responsibility the other parent or the father should also be fulfilling. The child deserves the attention and care from the adults present in their full capacity. Shying away from certain tasks of parenthood, be it changing the diaper or teaching them empathy, just because of your gender helps no one in the long run. This is what you, as a parent, need to keep in mind while reading this article.
Though we are talking about women and mothers here, it does not mean you cannot undertake other roles in parenthood, or that your partner cannot undertake these. Do not let society’s restrictive gender roles keep you from loving and taking care of your child the way you truly can, and wish to.
These are some of the many life-changing and lifesaving things mothers do every day for their children:
1. Who nurtures a child?
Usually, newborns spend the majority of the time with their mothers. From birth itself, you start to foster a connection with your baby. Though it will take a few months before your baby is going to be able to register you as an individual and get attached to you personally, mothers get started on the journey now. The children begin to feel safe in the world and secure enough to venture out as they grow. Toddlers who have a secure attachment with their primary caregiver are more likely to move away from their mother to explore the room they are in by themselves than those who do not.
As the years go by, children continue to find solace and safety in the arms of their mother. And mothers too, learn and adapt over time, thus they also keep developing the ability to discern when something is wrong, and pay attention even when the child feels no one is there for them.
2. A safe space
Children see, hear, and think about things. In their play around the house or in the park, they are bound to come across something they find amusing, intriguing, scary, or confusing. And as they grow up and meet more people and experience different situations, the number of things they have to share only increases.
Children will run-up to their mother to tell them about the kid with a dog in the park, or how they found a coin on the ground in school today. Teens will have their own stories to tell.
Mothers learn to take interest and listen to these tales with gusto. Over time, this trust and confidence only grow and it helps the child a lot. They know they have a safe space, somewhere they won’t be judged – disciplined yes, but not out of ridicule. It is an extremely important task to keep finding new ways to listen and offer confidence to children in accordance with where they are in life at that point.
3. The first teacher
Learning and education do not start in school. They begin long before a child even enters a classroom. From basic social skills and manners to rhymes and songs, there is a lot that a child learns at home. Mothers end up spending hours and hours with their child, and the learning that ensues here is natural, free-spirited, and joyful. So many values and life lessons are instilled at home in the child.
It takes enormous amounts of patience and persistence in order to teach children and help them practice speaking, writing, solve puzzles etc. More than any material thing, these will stay with the child forever.
4. The role model
Mothers are a huge role model for children. When they see their mother thank the postman, the waiters, apologize for being late or bumping into someone on the street – they begin to do so too. Children imitate. They learn from the adults around them. Thus, when mothers keep this mind, they are already shaping their child to be kinder, more considerate, and sensitive when interacting with friends, family members, teachers, and strangers.
As adults, they will get to know more about their mothers and how they handled trying and difficult circumstances in the past. It will teach them to have the same patience, hope, and motivation it takes to work through the tough times.