The Importance of the Presence of the Mother During the First Three Years Organized by Sheila Kippley (February 28, 2005) Purpose Mothers have told me that they have been influenced by those experts and writers who state that the presence of the mother during the early years is extremely important to their child’s optimal development. This knowledge has helped them to make decisions that enable them to remain with their children or at least cut back on their hours away from their little ones. There are many different views on how to raise children, but this is not the place to have a discussion on parenting issues. Many experts and ordinary persons agree that the mother plays an important role in the development of her child, emotionally, physically, and spiritually even if they disagree on practical parenting issues. I will provide quotations to show the importance of the presence of the mother during the first three years of a child’s life. I want to stress that using a quotation from a particular book or author does not endorse that expert’s or writer’s views on parenting. Schools and churches need to do more to educate teenagers and young adults about the importance of mother-baby togetherness during the early years. They also need to teach them how to go through college with as little debt as possible. Many couples marry with such a high debt that it is almost impossible for the wife to remain home with the arrival of their first baby. Granted there are some mothers who have to work to provide for the basic necessities of her baby or family. Maybe the mother is a single parent or maybe her husband died. Maybe the finances are such that the mother has to set a goal of being a stay-at-home mom at a much later date. These types of mothers need our support plus the support of their churches and community. Today most agree that a major reason for crime and gang activity among juveniles is the absence of the father in the home. Yet even one “father” expert, David Blankenhorn, author of Fatherless America, states that the most important relationship during the early years is the mother and baby dyad and that the dad should soon become that most significant and intimate other. I am well aware that our society assumes today that the mother will return to work after childbirth. The new mother usually assumes it as well. Hardly anyone tells her differently. I hope these quotations will encourage some serious thought on this subject. Quotations Supporting the Importance of the Presence of the Mother During the First Three Years of Life “A child’s early years hold the clues to his future behavior as an adult. Society stands to gain or lose, depending on the soundness of mother-baby attachment. La Leche League is committed to the belief that babies and mothers need to be together in the early years. We are convinced that a baby’s needs for his mother’s loving presence is as basic as his need for food.” La Leche League International, The Womanly Art of Breastfeeding, 7th ed., pp. 167-168.
“What is so important about the breastfeeding—especially ecological breastfeeding and prolonged lactation—is that it gives a baby both the nurturing and the best nutrition. Prolonged lactation naturally provides those two realities that make such a positive difference! And, most importantly, prolonged lactation keeps the mother available and hopefully responsive and sensitive to her baby’s needs during those crucial first three years of life.” Sheila Kippley, Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing, 4th ed., p. 106. “As medical experts and experienced mothers agree, breastfeeding works best when baby and mother are in constant proximity to each other. The typical breastfed baby eats every two to four hours, often around the clock and sometimes for months on end. In fact, nothing could be more inimical to full-time, out-of-the-house employment…It would be better for both children and adults if more American parents were with their kids more...
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