I don’t know if you have heard about a famous study called the Strange Situation. This study is a well-known research experiment to see how babies react when their mothers leave the room. The researchers observed the child’s behaviour when their mothers returned to the room after an absence. Each child in the study was examined for their attachment style. Some babies were mad at their mothers for abandoning them and ignored their mom when she arrived. Other babies welcome their mothers with warm affection and attention when they come back. After a while, they resume playing with their toys.
How a child responded to the mother when she returned had a significant impact on child development as they became adults. Following, they will either be on a therapist’s couch dealing with abandonment and commitment issues as adults or having good relations with their peers and significant others.
Children and parent relations are complex dynamics that don’t produce the same results with each child. Notably, a myth has been around for a long time that women can naturally know everything their child needs intuitively. This false narrative has caused, what I believe, is the rise of postpartum depression in new mothers. Clearly, they are being taught and living off the wrong truth that they do not measure up because they don’t have the maternal instinct. Therefore, when nothing seems to go as planned, these mothers blame themselves for not measuring up.
When it comes to parents who are Deaf and hard of hearing, the same myth appears in the hearing loss community. You are to know intuitively that your baby is crying when you’re not in the same room. However, this belief doesn’t hold weight scientifically.
What Maternal Instinct Is
There seems to be confusion over maternal instinct and past studies reporting on mother and baby bonding. Like the Strange Situation study, other studies talk about mother and babies bonds, for example, through breastfeeding. What we see as a maternal instinct from knowing your baby’s needs actually comes from the performance of breastfeeding. Research has proven that mothers and babies bond quickly through breastfeeding. Because oxytocin is released from the mother’s body to the baby during breastfeeding. The oxytocin increases social interactions and decreases stress and anxiety for mothers and babies. With less stress, mothers believe they have a handle on everything and perceive that they are in control.
Many researchers have agreed that motherhood is not a natural experience given during pregnancy. Instead, motherhood is a learned experience, where mothers learn on the job and are not experts from the start. For that reason, there is no way to know if your baby is crying in another room. So, there is no maternal instinct or natural bond that will intuitively tell you that your baby is crying without being able to hear.
In fact, there is a lot of research done to prove that there is no such thing as maternal instinct. If there were to be maternal instinct, and it was true, then men wouldn’t recognize their baby the way their mothers do. However, studies have shown that this is quite the opposite. Men have been proven to adapt and learn just the same as women. Consequently, a man who can hear can identify the meaning of their child’s cry just like a mother would.
It takes a village
These facts also tell us that mothers do not have to be the sole caregivers in our society. Additionally, we can have a collective group of individuals and technologies as part of the baby care team to support their babies’ needs. Besides, not one individual has better parenting skills.
Interestingly, there is no research, to my knowledge, on mothers with hearing loss and their natural ability to respond to their baby’s cry in another room. But based on the research of the Strange Situation, believing we can respond naturally can create long-term attachment issues. Evidently, we may be impacting the child’s development. While deaf and hard-of-hearing mothers say they know when their baby cries, they do not have tangible evidence. They may be unaware that their baby may have called for attention at one time. Soon after, the baby may learn that their mom is not giving them the attention and stops trying.
Support is available
Despite this, it is okay to have the technologies and support to help raise your child. For example, you can choose a baby monitor or other baby cry alerting devices to assist you with caring for your child. You do not have to do this on your own. Build the community with technologies and people your child needs for a healthy and secure life.
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