The Blog

As a newspaper columnist, Nancy Devlin, Ph.D. has written over 700 articles on subjects related to education and parenting. Welcome to her Classroom!

New Mothers, Vulnerable Creatures

A  recent  study  reported that being a mother and homemaker
is  more stressful than working  outside the home.   One of the
reasons for this might be that a women’s role in the  marketplace
is  more  defined  and can be measured   as   being  productive,
while   the   role  of   mother, especially that of  new  mother,
can be characterized as flying by the seat of your pants with  no
real  guidelines,  but with lots of guilt  and little feeling  of
accomplishment.    This  is especially true in  today’s  world
because  new  mothers  no  longer  have  a  support  network  of relatives  and  friends  to assist them  and  to  serve  as  role models for them.

A new mother is a very vulnerable creature.  She  reads books  by   experts  who tell her what to and not to  do.   Since many  so-called  experts disagree,  the new mother is faced  with making  a  choice  but  is  told  that  there  are  dire  consequences   if   she guesses wrong.  Many would  be  happy  to trade this uncertainty for the certainties of a career outside of
the home.
     One  common error new mothers fall into  after  reading
all  the  advice in the baby and “how to” books is to attempt  to
do  everything  recommended even if the advice  is   conflicting.
They  buy  all the equipment,   learning cribs,   teaching  kits, toys,  and  games  they read are  important  to  their  child’s  future   development.   The anxiety all this  activity  generates sometimes leaves the mothers with little feeling of the joy and contentment  they could and should be having by relaxing,  having  confidence  in themselves and interacting  naturally  with  their babies.

      The  first thing that can be done for new mothers   is  to  make  the job more attractive and relaxing.   Mothers do  not  need to be stimulating babies constantly with special  equipment.  As  a matter of fact,  too much of this type of activity  may  be pushing  babies  too  fast and too hard and may not be   helpful.   Instead  mothers should feel free to relax with their babies  and be quiet observers taking their cues from the babies’ activities.   The only equipment babies really need can be found in every home:  sponges,  cans,  plastic bottles,  pots  and  pans  and so forth.

     The  second thing  that can be done for new mothers  is
or society  to give them the message that raising a child is one 
of  the  most  important  and  productive  things  they  can  do.
Businesses can back up this message by making it easy for mothers
to  return to their careers without prejudice or penalty.  Better
still, businesses can encourage the new mothers to work part-time
so  that  they  have  a  break  from  child  care  and  have  the
opportunity for adult contact.

        A third way to help new mothers is to provide them with
some concrete,  personal, in-the-home help when their babies  are
very  young.   Mothers now come home from the hospital  two  days
after the baby is born.  That is too soon for a mother who has no
help.   What  should  begin as a happy  experience  soon  becomes   burdensome  and  unpleasant.   New mothers need support  to  feel
confident in raising their  babies.   When they gain  confidence,
they can begin to relax and to enjoy themselves and finally to be
charmed by watching their new, wonderful baby grow and  develop.

For Mother’s Day consider giving a new mother the
gift  of time.  Offer to take over for her so that she  can  have
time  for  herself.  It is important for all of us that  we  make
this  a pleasant, rewarding experience for the new  mother.   She
deserves  all the help she can get.  When she is  successful,  we
all benefit.

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