How a Mother’s Love Determines a Child’s Happiness as an Adult
A mother's love is a beautiful thing. In spite of the growing workload in the office or at home, the kids’ packed schedules or inescapable get-togethers with family and friends, a mother always seems to find time for a chirpy morning greeting, a warm homecoming hug, a sweet kiss goodnight, a few encouraging whispers of “I’m proud of you,” or “You can do this" for their little ones.
These may seem like small things that a child may or may not have etched in their mind, but it leaves imprints in their heart and their brain—whether or not they realise it.
A 2010 study by Duke University Medical School followed 500 people from infants up until their 30s. Babies with highly affectionate and attentive mothers grew up to be happier, less anxious and more resilient as adults. The researchers concluded that this may be due to the hormone oxytocin, a chemical that is released during times of bonding, which helps an individual feel happier, more at ease and more positive.
Another study by University of Notre Dame in 2015 found that out of the 600 adults who were surveyed, those who received more affection growing up had more compassion and less depression and anxiety.
Researchers also found that children who were deprived from comfort and warmth had higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, than those who lived with loving parents, potentially due to the lack of physical affection while growing up. And in 2013, UCLA researchers found that children’s brains change according to how much love and affection they receive.
See also: Rediscover Yourself in Motherhood
The love a child receives in their early years is what shapes them into a healthy, happy and loving adult, so it’s no wonder a mother plays a crucial role in a child’s life and how their future will turn out. While a mother’s love surely has lifelong benefits, there are many ways that love is expressed. Here are just a couple of ways a mother can show their love to their child:
1. Small forms of affection go a long way
Never underestimate the power of physical affection and warmth, for children really do thrive on a parent’s love. Shower them with goodnight cuddles and morning kisses, and while actions speak louder than words, even saying “I love you” can mean a lot to a child.
Later in life, the child won’t feel scared to open up emotionally and express their feelings, and they’ll be happier, more confident adults when they know that they are supported, valued and loved.
2. Try a little tenderness
There’s a saying that goes a little something like this: “never discipline a child out of anger - do it out of love.” When it comes to discipline, punishing them and fear-mongering would only make things worse. Instead, be gentle. If they did something wrong, be lovingly honest and tell them why so. It's also important to set clear boundaries and be firm.
At the same time, remind them that you love and care for them. Harbouring even an ounce of resentment and anger can be both unhealthy for the child and yourself.
3. Listen with an open heart and an open mind
When your child is having a bad day or has something they’re unhappy with, refrain from telling them to feel how you want them to feel, or what they should be feeling.
Instead, put yourself in your child’s shoes and show empathy. You and your child are not only in two completely separate stages of your lives, but you are also two completely different individuals.
Have an open heart and an open mind, and remember to listen to what they’re saying without any judgement or criticism; every feeling is valid, after all. No matter the age, everyone wants to feel understood and listened to.
4. Make time for your little one
Spending one-on-one quality time with someone allows the other person to feel appreciated and loved, and a child is no different. When you have regular bonding sessions with your child, it makes them feel special, happier and more fulfilled. Children crave quality time with their parents, and there's no denying that family time can be a challenge for parents with immensely busy schedules.
Still, doing small activities together can make a big difference for children. Things like making breakfast together, having dinner with them without any distractions, reading together before bedtime—these don't take much time out of your day but can greatly deepen the connection with your child. We have a handpicked collection of children's books available in our Me Books store so parents can have storytime together, make more magical moments and create a lasting bond with their little ones.
So even when your world feels chaotic or heavy in the midst of personal and professional responsibilities, keep these little reminders in mind. Carve some time in your day to give your child a tight squeeze or two, a peck or a thousand, even some words of encouragement on a regular basis. This way, they can carry your love into their future. And when they do, they'll see the world through a brighter, more vibrant and colourful lens as adults.
Zafirah likes eating and travelling. Her biggest inspiration is Neil Gaiman, and her favourite genre (both in film and literature) is horror… even though she still sleeps with the light on.