A Problem for Mothers, Is There Such a Thing as instinctual love of a mother for her baby?
Some mothers burdened with the mythical belief that there is such a thing as a maternal instinct, experience guilt if that is not what they feel. Part of that myth is the expectation that a mother automatically knows how to care for her child and become a secure individual. The fact is that parenting carries with it a steep learning curve.It is necessary first to define what is meant by the term instinct.
Generally speaking, instinct is an unlearned complex set of behaviors.
"Stereotyped, unlearned, largely stimulus-bound adaptive behavior limited in its expression by the inherent properties of the nervous system and genetic factors. It is species-specific and involves complex activity patterns rather than simple reflexes."
One such example would be of a spider spinning an intricate web. Birds built their nests without instructions from anyone. They also how to fly south for the winter months. As one naturalist put it, "the birds know without knowing they know."
The fact is that human beings do not have instincts. Yes, there is that bond that is ignited by oxytocin. That is part of the reason why childhood and development take us more than twenty years to complete. We have a lot to learn during that period.
What science does know about mother/baby attachment and love is that the neurochemical oxytocin dramatically increases when a mother sees her baby. Mother and baby fall in love.
From the moment a baby is born, the learning begins for both baby and mom. Let us not forget dad. He also has a vital role to fill in the development of the child. Many mothers have explained that the most challenging time they experienced was with the birth and raising of the first child. The next go-round is easier. To repeat the main point, parents do not know without knowing they know. They approach babyhood and parenting with great apprehension and guilt because of that apprehension.
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