What does the bond between mother and child look like in a perfect world? We explore this concept with the help of perspectives from thought leaders and psychiatrists. Read on to delve into essential takeaways to enlighten your childrearing approach.

The sacred bond between mother and child

Firstly, children’s needs and how they are not getting met have been a passionate concern for me since I was an adolescent. When I became an adult, I researched the topic feverishly. This led me to learn more about women’s needs. To paraphrase Stanley Greenspan (renowned developmental psychiatrist), “show me a baby and I’ll show you a mother*.” 

Mother and sleeping baby

* ‘Caregiver’ or ‘parent’ can substitute ‘mother’ in this blog.

There is a bio/psycho / socio-political/historical reason for my specific use of the word mother. Women, particularly women of colour, are still the primary caregivers of children and are consistently under-supported, abused, and neglected to this day.

Once upon a time, in a perfect world

I mentioned Dr Gabor Maté’s new book, The Myth of Normal, in my previous blog. He conveniently articulated the 30+ years of my fervent digging into a few chapters of his book. Think of this as a kind of Eco-Fable. 

Once upon a time, in a faraway land, there was a perfect world.

In this world there were communities. In these communities, there were families of several generations. They tilled the soil, sowed the seeds, tended the fires, and loved the children. The elders told the stories to teach the parents and held the spiritual container to keep the circle of care intact. The fathers provided for and protected the mothers. And inside the centre of the mother-baby nursing bubble the “Child-Honouring” (Raffi) sacred song was sung. The song taught the baby how it feels to be human. The song shaped the internal ground (neocortex) where relationships in the community would sprout and grow roots so deep that the circle could never be broken. Because it was sacred and held the secrets of dignity and respect for personhood.

The mother and child within the circle

Within the circle, the community held the mother. They nurtured her with safety, food, and support. Thanks to this, she could be reliably and consistently attuned and non-stressed, as well as emotionally and physically available for the baby. 

In this scenario, the baby and mother are an extension of each other. Likewise, the community serves as the lifeline for the mother.

Moreover, this raising of children to reach their full potential was the heart of survival for the community. In this way, everyone invited the child to exist and make mistakes/learn/explore exactly as they are without shame or judgment. Ever. 

In this perfect world, the love of the child cannot get earned or revoked, for any reason. Instead, correction of behaviour is only done after: 

  • Meeting needs
  • Hearing communication
  • Processing emotion (with the help of the community)

Even the primal cry of the baby is simply a catalyst to rally the community CARE system (Jaak Panksepp, Author, Neuroscientist and Psychobiologist).

4 non-negotiable irrefutable needs of the baby

According to Panksepp, the 4 non-negotiable irrefutable needs of the baby became woven into the fabric of the community. This included:

  1. The attachment relationship between the child and the community. Security, contact, and connection heralded this relationship – the most important aspect of life for the survival of all. The humane stewardship of nature requires this attachment foundation, which the community relies upon.
  1. This secure attachment releases the child from having to work to earn love and care. They can rest, play, explore, learn and become human in the fullest sense within the context of nature and other humans of all ages. 
  1. Full permission and encouragement to feel and express all emotions. These emotions especially pertain to grief, anger, sadness, fear and pain. By allowing the child to feel and express emotions in their fullest capacity, they permit the child to experience safety in vulnerability.
  1. Full-range access to free, unstructured play in nature with playmates of various ages. This means no agenda, just interactive and imaginary play. The PLAY system is critical in the true maturation (not age or schooling) of the neocortex.

Connection and love are the antidotes

When the above conditions are not met and children become raised in stress or deprivation, mental health conditions and adult aggression arise. This includes the epigenesis of ADHD. This means the genetic potentiality of ADHD within the brain turns on and off due to stressors in and around the child. In the rare experience of mental illness and/or addiction, the community used antidotes and medicine to prevent these problems from arising and connection and love to heal.

In this perfect world, where there was no socio-political structure (such as capitalism) to interfere with the lifeline of the community, the inner circle of the mother-baby nursing couple was fiercely protected. 

Overall – health, wellness, wholeness, integrity, contact with self/other/nature/spirit, and reciprocity reigned.

Community, parents in a circle

Nurture your inner mother or guardian

For more insight into holistic approaches to the family, self and more, explore our collection of articles. We invite you to have a conversation with your loved ones and community on creating the best growing environment for your child and others.

Kathlyn McHugh RCC, RSW Counselling Practice takes place at the Vitality Clinic in the West Shore Area, close to Victoria BC.

Visit the website at: Home – The Vitality Clinic