The research found that moms who either come from healthy families-of-origin OR have successfully resolved their childhood issues tend to respond more sensitively and compassionately to their baby’s cries, seeing those cries as a call for help. By contrast, moms who had not adequately come to terms with their own negative childhood experiences tended to focus on how their baby’s cries affected them. Moms in this latter group tended to experience a crying baby as manipulative or a nuisance. Instead of being prompted to provide a nurturing response, these moms tended to worry about how they were going to get their own needs met if they responded to their child as much as their child seemed to need them.
“Responding sensitively to infant crying is a difficult yet important task,” notes Esther M. Leerkes, professor of human development and family studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, who led the study. “Some mothers may need help controlling their own distress and interpreting babies’ crying as an attempt to communicate need or discomfort.” READ MORE
The study presents a powerful argument that moms who struggle to respond compassionately, promptly, and sensitively to their baby’s cries should not write their resistance off to a difference in parenting style, but rather see it for what it is, a sign that there may be work to do on healing from childhood wounds. Rather than experiencing these findings as a judgment, moms who struggle to be nurturing in response to infant crying should be encouraged that there are effective ways to resolve the inner-tension that robs them of the joy of motherhood.
While every parent has off days, if you habitually tend to feel that you are in competition with your child to get your needs met, or experience your child’s cries as manipulative or a nuisance, contact the Pastoral Solutions Institute’s tele-counseling practice (740-266-6461) to learn more about how you can begin to heal your childhood hurts and free your heart to love your child the way God intends him or her to be loved. You can get your needs met while being present to your child. Let us show you how.