Love at First Sight—And Forever After!
“IF YOU watch babies after they are born,” notes Dr. Cecilia McCarton, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, “they are exquisitely awake and tuned into their environment. They are responsive to their mothers. They turn toward sounds. And they fixate on their mother’s face.” And the mother makes eye contact with her baby. It’s love at first sight—for both of them!
This moment of bonding between mother and baby happens naturally if the birth is natural, without drugs that dull the senses of mother and baby. His cries stimulate her production of milk. The touch of his skin against hers releases a hormone that reduces her postdelivery bleeding. The child is born with brain programs to ensure attachment—crying, sucking, babblings and gurglings, smiling and ecstatic kickings to entice mother’s attentions. Attachment, to the mother primarily, makes it possible for the infant to develop a sense of love and caring and trust. The father quickly becomes important as an attachment figure. His relations lack the intimacy of the mother’s but add an important dimension: poking, tickling, gentle roughhousing, which the baby responds to with excited laughter and wigglings.
Dr. Richard Restak reports that for the newborn to be held and cuddled is like a nutrient. “Touch,” he says, “is as necessary to normal infant development as food and oxygen. Mother opens her arms to the infant, snuggles him, and a host of psychobiological processes are brought into harmony.” Under this treatment even the physical brain develops “a different physiognomy of bumps and crevices.”
Guard Against Detachment
Some have indicated that if this attachment between mother and baby does not take place at the time of birth, tragedy lies ahead. Not so. With loving mothering there are hundreds of intimate moments in the weeks that follow that make bonding secure. Denial of such intimacies over a longer period of time, however, can lead to dire consequences. “Although we all need one another throughout our lives,” Dr. Restak tells us, “that needing is most acute in the first year. Deprive a baby of light, the opportunity to gaze at a human face, the delight of being picked up, cuddled, cooed at, fussed over, touched—and the infant doesn’t abide such deprivations.”
Babies cry for many reasons. Usually they want attention. If their cries are not responded to after a time, they may stop. They feel that their care-giver is not responding. They cry again. If still no response, they feel neglected, insecure. They try harder. If this goes on for a longer time and if it is repeated frequently, the baby feels abandoned. It is first angry, even enraged, and finally it gives up. Detachment occurs. Not receiving love, it does not learn to love. Conscience is undeveloped. It trusts no one, cares for no one. It becomes a problem child and, in extreme cases, a psychopathic personality incapable of feeling remorse for criminal acts.
Love at first sight is not the end of it. It must continue forever after. Not just in words but also in deeds. “Let us love, neither in word nor with the tongue, but in deed and truth.” (1 John 3:18) Lots of hugs and kisses. Early on, before it’s too late, teach and instruct in the true values of God’s Word, the Bible. Then it will be with your children as it was with Timothy: “From infancy you have known the holy writings, which are able to make you wise.” (2 Timothy 3:15) Daily spend time with them, throughout childhood and the teen years. “These words that I am commanding you today must prove to be on your heart; and you must inculcate them in your son and speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road and when you lie down and when you get up.”—Deuteronomy 6:6, 7.
‘We May Cry, but It’s for the Best’
Discipline is a touchy subject for many. When properly administered, however, it is an essential part of parental love. One little girl recognized this. She made a card for her mother, addressed “To Ma, To a Nice Lady.” It was decorated with crayon drawings of a golden sun, flying birds, and red flowers. The card read: “This is for you because we all love you. We want to show our appreciation by making a card. When we have low marks you sign our paper. When we’re bad you smack us. We may cry, but we know it’s for the best. . . . All I want to say is that I love you very, very much. Thanks for all you do for me. Love and kisses. [Signed] Michele.”
Michele agrees with Proverbs 13:24: “The one holding back his rod is hating his son, but the one loving him is he that does look for him with discipline.” Use of the rod, representing authority, may involve a spanking, but many times it does not. Different children, different misbehaviors, call for different disciplining. A rebuke kindly given may suffice; stubbornness may require stronger medicine: “A rebuke works deeper in one having understanding than striking a stupid one a hundred times.” (Proverbs 17:10) Also applicable: “A servant [or, a child] will not let himself be corrected by mere words, for he understands but he is paying no heed.”—Proverbs 29:19.
In the Bible the word “discipline” means to instruct, train, chasten—including spanking if it takes that to correct behavior. Hebrews 12:11 shows its purpose: “True, no discipline seems for the present to be joyous, but grievous; yet afterward to those who have been trained by it it yields peaceable fruit, namely, righteousness.” Parents are not to be overly harsh in their disciplining: “You fathers, do not be exasperating your children, so that they do not become downhearted.” (Colossians 3:21) Neither are they to be overly permissive: “The rod and reproof are what give wisdom; but a boy let on the loose will be causing his mother shame.” (Proverbs 29:15) Permissiveness says, ‘Do as you like; don’t bother me.’ Discipline says, ‘Do what is right; I care about you.’
U.S.News & World Report, August 7, 1989, rightly said: “Parents who are not harshly punitive, but who set firm boundaries and stick to them, are significantly more likely to produce children who are high achievers and who get along well with others.” In its conclusion the article stated: “Perhaps the most striking theme to emerge from all the scientific data is that establishing a pattern of love and trust and acceptable limits within each family is what really counts, and not lots of technical details. The true aim of discipline, a word that has the same Latin root as disciple, is not to punish unruly children but to teach and guide them and help instill inner controls.”
They Hear What You Say, They Copy What You Do
An article on discipline in The Atlantic Monthly was introduced with this statement: “A child can be expected to behave well only if his parents live by the values they teach.” The article proceeded to show the value of inner controls: “Teenagers who behaved well tended to have parents who were themselves responsible, upright, and self-disciplined—who lived in accord with the values they professed and encouraged their children to follow suit. When the good teenagers were exposed, as a part of the investigation, to problem teenagers, their behavior was not permanently affected. They had far too securely internalized their parents’ values.” It proved to be as the proverb says: “Train up a boy according to the way for him; even when he grows old he will not turn aside from it.”—Proverbs 22:6.
Parents who tried to instill true values in their children, but which they themselves did not follow, had no success. Their children “had not been able to internalize those values.” The study proved that “what made the difference was how closely the parents lived by the values that they tried to teach their children.”
It proves to be as author James Baldwin said: “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.” If you love your children and you want to teach them the true values, use the best method of all: You be the example of your own teachings. Do not be like the scribes and the Pharisees that Jesus condemned as hypocrites: “Therefore all the things they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds, for they say but do not perform.” (Matthew 23:3) Or like the ones the apostle Paul questioned accusingly: “Do you, however, the one teaching someone else, not teach yourself? You, the one preaching ‘Do not steal,’ do you steal?”—Romans 2:21.
Today many dismiss the Bible as outmoded and its guidelines as impractical. Jesus challenges that position with these words: “All the same, wisdom is proved righteous by all its children.” (Luke 7:35) The following accounts by families from many countries prove his words true.
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A close bond with the mother helps the baby to develop emotionally
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Father’s time with the child is also vital