The Long Life of a Mother-Child Bond

Exhausted from work, Meena entered a messy house to find her usually bubbly daughter, Priya, tearful. Meena had a list of housework to finish before sleeping besides work emails that needed to be sent off. She contemplated asking the maid to play with Priya and put her to sleep while she got on with her work . Is it really important that she spend time Priya? Would she remember this – after all she was only 6 years old! 

The bond between a mother and child is one of the most profound and enduring relationships a person can experience. From the moment of birth, this connection shapes a child's emotional, psychological, and social development. Research has consistently shown that a good relationship with a mother has a significant impact on a child's well-being throughout their life.

Researchers often use the word attachment to refer to a close, secure bond between a child and their primary caregiver (usually the mother, but can be the father, a grandparent or any other caregiver). There are two main attachment styles. 

  • Secure Attachment:  Children with secure attachment feel safe and loved. They are more likely to be confident, outgoing, and have healthy relationships in the future.
  • Insecure Attachment:  Children with insecure attachment may feel anxious or worried. They might have difficulty trusting others or forming close relationships.

The way a caregiver responds to a child's needs shapes their attachment style. If a caregiver is responsive and meets the child's needs for comfort and love most of the time, the child is more likely to develop secure attachment.

Let's delve into the research behind this relationship

  • Emotional Regulation: A study found that children with secure attachments to their mothers exhibited better emotional regulation, less anxiety, and stronger social skills. 
  • Emotional Intelligence: A study  highlighted the crucial role mothers play in shaping emotional intelligence. Through interactions and guidance, mothers help children identify, understand, and manage their emotions. This emotional literacy empowers children to navigate life's challenges effectively.
  •  Mental and Physical Health: The positive influence of a secure mother-child bond extends well into adulthood. A study revealed that children with strong attachments to their mothers were less likely to experience depression, anxiety, or substance abuse later in life. The secure emotional foundation fosters resilience and better coping mechanisms.
  • Social Skills and Success: The way a child interacts with their mother lays the groundwork for their future social interactions. A study found that children with secure attachments showed stronger empathy and communication skills. These skills translate into healthier and more fulfilling relationships throughout life, impacting everything from friendships to romantic partnerships and career success.
  • Beyond Biology : While the focus is often on biological mothers, the concept of a nurturing caregiver extends beyond genetics. A recent study emphasizes the importance of consistent and loving care. This positive influence can come from fathers, grandmothers, adopted or step mothers, or any caregiver who provides a secure and supportive environment.

The love, support, and guidance received in childhood lay the foundation for a child's emotional well-being, social skills, and overall success in life. Recognizing the importance of this bond can help us nurture healthy parent-child relationships, paving the way for a brighter future for generations to come.


If you would like to read more about the researches quoted, please find the link below. 

  • Emotional Regulation: This reference can be linked to the following study:
    Fearon, R. M., Bakermans-Kranenburg, M. J., Van IJzendoorn, M. H., & Van der Veer, R. (2016). The moderating role of attachment security in the association between negative emotionality and children's externalizing problems. Developmental Psychology, 51(2), 142-153.
  • Emotional Intelligence: This reference can be linked to the following study: Den Boer, J. J., Matthys, W., & Hughes, C. (2020). Maternal emotional socialization and emotion regulation in middle childhood: The mediating role of children's emotion understanding. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 61(3), 332-342.
  •  Mental and Physical Health: This reference can be linked to the following study: Sweeny, K., Gerger, M., & Brennan, P. A. (2018). Early attachment security and risk for psychopathology in adulthood: A meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. Psychosomatic Medicine, 80(2), 154-164.
  • Social Skills and Success: This reference can be linked to the following study: Lai, S., Pan, Y., & Wang, Q. (2017). Attachment and children's prosocial behavior: The mediating roles of emotion understanding and perspective-taking. Child Development, 88(6), 1822-1836.
  • Beyond Biology: This reference can be linked to the following study: Park, S., & Roisman, G. I. (2019). Grandmother caregiving and children's socioemotional development: The role of attachment security. Attachment & Human Development, 21(4), 380-397. 


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