Most parents want their children to develop into healthy, competent individuals, and they will do almost anything to ensure the success of their offspring. With a new study coming from researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, The Netherlands, we can see just how integral a mother’s love and attention is to ensure a young child’s social development.
Researchers observed chimpanzees, one of our closest animal relatives, and discovered that mother chimps endow their offspring with some important life-time skills, including diminishing aggression in social circles and making friends. Edwin van Leeuwen from the Comparative Cognitive Anthropology Research Group at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics commented:
“Since social play comprises a complex context in which signals about intentions need to be communicated, it seems that orphaned chimpanzees have missed out on valuable lessons from their mothers.”
It seems the chimps that had to forgo a mother’s love were more aggressive even during bouts of play.
This research compliments that of Darcia Narvaez, Ph.D., who tells us that human infants that are touched not only develop more intellectually, but also grow faster. Touch is absolutely imperative to out proper developmental growth. In fact, when mothers stop touching their infants, DNA synthesis stops, and growth hormone diminishes. Physiologically speaking, the baby goes into survival mode.
When a mother soothes a baby that cries, she is lessening the destruction of DNA – since crying destroys fragile, developing DNA. In fact, even your grandmother’s love of your mother likely left epigenetic markers that will either support or hinder your own growth. Your ancestors’ loving parents or horrid childhoods can change your personality, bequeathing you a resilience to handle stress or the epigenetic pre-disposition to be a basket case. It turns out love really is the answer.
The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers. – Thich Nhat Hanh