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The look of a mother and the maternal function:

The look of a mother and the maternal function: "I am watched, therefore I exist"

May 6, 2021

The importance of the maternal function in the first moments in which we are born is essential , although many times it goes unnoticed.

To understand to what extent it is important in our lives, it is worth examining what happens during the stage in which it plays a role in the protection, education and proportion of affection for the little ones.

What is the maternal function?

The maternal function in babies is understood as the desire to provide infants with physical and emotional food.

It is not only necessary to carry out the care related to physical well-being (food, shelter, cleanliness, rest ...) but also also involves benign or positive affective stimuli . Children who are devoid of these affective stimuli frequently die under the condition called hospitalism.


Positive affective stimuli

Benign or positive affective stimuli are those born innately from the desire to love that new creature. They have to do with the tone of sweet and soft voice, the smiles, caresses and hugs, and the constant look in the eyes of the other.

Many times mothers who contemplate their children "are lost in the gaze of their beloved, and their loved one is in the eyes of his mother." It is important to mention that for biological reasons mothers usually have it easier to achieve a greater emotional bond with their children . Therefore, they fulfill the maternal function more spontaneously.

Nevertheless, the maternal function can be assumed by any person who has the disposition and affective competences necessary to demonstrate affection.


The need for emotional contact

A baby is that human being totally dependent on the care of others . It is a creature with innate tendencies to growth and development, but at this moment it is part of the link with that mother figure, who will allow her to continue with her own development.

At the beginning, the maternal function is confined to providing protection, support, protection, shelter from dangers and to cover their physiological as well as emotional needs. It is a process that mothers learn to manage while breastfeeding their children ; hence the affective importance of understanding the importance of breastfeeding.

The value of breastfeeding

When mothers breastfeed their children they initiate a warm bond (mother-child) supported by looks, caresses, gestures, tone of voice, care ... In this bond a kind of complicity between both is generated ; In this way the mother learns to know the needs of her child in the minimum calls for attention that he makes. That is, easily distinguishes a cry of hunger to a cry for sleep, as well as knowing with a simple look of your child if you are sick.


It is a special psychological condition that mothers develop during the weeks after birth. Emotionally, your baby is still part of her, and therefore, she shows great sensitivity to what the baby expresses.

Babies learn to recognize their mother's face in the most pleasant moments they experience at the beginning of their lives: breastfeeding. Feeding and looking at the mother's face allows them to create that unity relationship where the mother reflects what he means.

The mirror of the look

The look that takes place as part of the maternal function is the first mirror where the child begins to differentiate and to react to the other, because he is aware of the response generated by his presence in the other; hence the importance of giving back the constant gestures, movements and sounds that the child emits, because it is the moment that begins to be discovered as a person.

At this moment the child depends on "the look", the presence, the care of that mother figure. They are the first steps towards the healthy construction of self-concept, self-esteem and security, and if there are anomalies in this phase, problems of development and behavior may appear . Some disorders that occur in adult life can be rooted in this type of defective linkages made during the first six months of life.

Breastfeeding in the current context

Regrettably, nowadays mothers have extremely limited the possibilities of providing this type of bond with their babies , or they are unfamiliar with the importance of "looking at it" and transmitting security and tranquility. They assume lactation by guaranteeing only food. For example, while you breastfeed you usually talk on the phone, check Facebook, read the newspaper ... Your attention is on other things.

Occasionally, breastfeeding is also assumed as the right of the mother to nurse, submerging a position of triumph in favor of women when in the social field they are allowed or facilitated spaces to do it comfortably in public without censorship. In both cases it is to remember that one can not fall into the error of assuming it only as a right of mothers, it is the right of the child to be watched, consented, cared for, felt while feeding .

The evolution of the maternal function

As the child grows "emotionally" begins to discover their own needs for exploration of the environment . This dynamic begins with behaviors such as sucking your finger, looking at objects, acquiring better and higher postures, controlling your body, pulling and holding objects, etc.

Advance safely towards better dependence. The child is attentive to their environment, receptive and willing to capture sounds, movements, textures, etc. . Therefore, begins to detach from the look of the mother. This process goes from six months to three years.

The favorite toy

In this stage, It is usual for children to acquire an object, call it a blanket, a pillow, a pacifier, or just a toy . The little ones need this object to alleviate the anguish of separation with family members and to be able to start exploring the world.

It is the first belonging they acquire, it is "almost sacred" for them and accompanies them everywhere, regardless of their status. It can smell bad, dirty, damaged, torn, discolored, but that object contains everything necessary to get rid of its mother and feel safe in new spaces.

It is recommended to maintain that child-object union . Generally you will only manage to get rid of your object when it is linked to the feeling of security. Sometimes parents ask if they can wash it or change it for a new one, but it is important to clarify that it is very important for the child to keep the one he chose and feel sure that it is within his reach, that is, not to be made derogatory comments. : "See how ugly it is, do not be dirty, let's change it". The object means for the child a source of security that goes beyond what adults can understand.

Hiding

Finally begins to hide from the mother, plays to disappear or to disappear ; It is the beginning or the first steps towards independence. They begin to give the first games in secret; the child explores the world but with the certainty of being able to return to his place of comfort: The arms of the person who protects him and gives him affection.

It is at this moment both the baby and the mother must be prepared to assume this first separation with security and tranquility ; without pressures or limitations. The mother must provide her son with new relationships and possibilities to understand his environment. From now on the child will be ready to start the facet of the game, where finally he does not need the "look of his mother", he concentrates for extended spaces playing in his own world and incorporating the participation of other children in his daily life. He is prepared to continue and develop as an independent and emotionally stable being.


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