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Mother’s Love Leads to Better Learning

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Mother’s Love Leads to Better Learning

By Linda Dobson


Ironically, it will be called "learning."

Scientists have now begun to prove what at least some human beings still intuitively know to be true: A mother’s (or surrogate’s) loving attention during the formative years is required for a child to grow healthy, happy, and strong. Now scientists are adding better at learning to the list.

The CBC News reports:

In this week’s online edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S. researchers reported that some children had a hippocampus almost 10 per cent larger than their peers whose mothers who didn’t show as much care. The findings only applied to children without depression…

…In the study, researchers used MRI to measure the hippocampus of 92 children from St. Louis who started participating in the research project as preschoolers.

Supportive parents

First, as preschoolers, the children were closely watched as they interacted with a parent, usually mom, as she filled out a survey. At the same time, the children had to wait for eight minutes before opening a brightly wrapped gift that was within arm’s reach.

During the “waiting task,” investigators took note of what supportive strategies the parent used to help their son or daughter wait patiently instead of acting on the impulse to tear open the gift immediately. Psychiatrists who didn’t know anything about the subjects counted each display of support by the caregiver.

A supportive mother might console the child and explain there were only a few more minutes to wait.

The kids and their parents were assessed four to six times over the course of the study. When the children reached ages seven to 13, they had the MRIs to measure their brains.

Maternal support was “strongly predictive” of the size of the hippocampus at school age, the researchers said.

The Connection between Learning and Loving

While the connection between loving and learning may seem as common sensical to you as it does to me, it saddened me that common sense needed to be tested in the laboratory. So now everyone knows the great news – providing love and a nurturing environment to small children helps the hippocampus grow larger which improves learning. Now all parents can support their children during the early years. Not so fast.

“We believe these findings have potentially profound public health implications and suggest that greater public health emphasis on early parenting could be a very fruitful social investment,” the study’s authors concluded.

“This finding, when replicated, would strongly suggest enhancement of public policies and programs that provide support and parenting education to caregivers early in development.”

I guess we’re not going to keep this simple, natural, one-on-one and in the home. We need a “middle man” in the form of tax-funded public policies and programs to provide “parenting education.” Oh, dear.

Loving and Learning Made Complicated

I grow even sadder when thinking about our society’s loss of both common sense and the intuitive intelligence with which we are born that is systematically swept away and tossed aside during our school programming to focus on the intellect and the inane. I think about how much has to change for humans to regain such a vital, natural tool for surviving as intuition. Moms today are sold a bill of goods when they’re told that child care is good for babies and toddlers. They’re told child care is good for them, too, keeping them more connected to the community and able to obtain/hang on to mental health with “me time.”

We’ll just keep doing what we always do, ignoring the reality that such is insanity. Some stranger, somewhere, who will never meet the moms and babes involved, may never have raised children, will put forth his/her/their “core parenting curriculum.” What was once a very natural act will be broken down into 20-minute lessons that can be conveyed weekly by government employees who learn the script. Ironically, it will be called “learning.”

See also “Homeschooling, Like a Breath of Fresh Air

The only way to overcome this dilemma is grassroots advocacy from the parents who, in what these days seems like a super feat, miraculously hung on to connection with the wisdom inside and use it to their children’s benefit. Each of us must be willing to share what we know freely, lovingly, taking soon-to-be or new parents under our wings in an attempt to – not to sound overly dramatic but it’s true – save the human race from the far-reaching damage of our schooling.

Each one teach one – or more. On toward larger hippocampuses, nurtured in love.

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2 Responses to “Mother’s Love Leads to Better Learning”

  1. You’re so right. Why does everything have to be turned into a study? Why does everything that is worth knowing have to be taught by an expert for it to count? We have given up on following our instincts because we haven’t been allowed to follow them since we’ve been born. Our parents have protected us so much for getting hurt, that we’ve forgotten to listen to our own bodies instead. Of course we learn better in a loving environment instead of a fearful one. It’s pretty obvious when you see it. Thanks so much for this reminder.

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