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The gift mom gave us

By Mary Migliaro

Contributing Writer

Celebrating Mother’s Day is not just an important way to show appreciation for the one who loves you unconditionally; it has important psychological benefits as well. It is a day to honor her but also reflect on the many gifts she gave us.

Whether it’s your mom, grandma, favorite aunt, teacher, or friend, the women in our lives shape and define us in ways both large and small. Even as we developed within our mother’s womb, she was looking out for us, providing us with the safe environment and nourishment we need to thrive.

But mom gives us more than a good start in life. Scientists now know that our mother’s emotional state helps to determine our base personalities as well. Mothers who experience a calm, restful pregnancy tend to have calmer babies.

Our ability to connect with the world around us began with our connection to Mom. In the 1950s, psychologists studied the impact of the mother and child connection, examining how it affected the child’s ability to form lasting bonds throughout their lives. Children who were loved, nurtured, encouraged, and spent their formative years in a safe and secure environment grew up to be healthy, well-adjusted, confident adults.

While that initial connection to our biological mother was an important part of this process, it extends beyond birth and includes foster and adoptive parents as well. Children with a close attachment to their caregivers, of whom mom is typically the primary, develop the tools they need to become well-adjusted adults.

But it isn’t just our connection to Mom that determines who we are. Behavioral Genetics, the theory that we inherit certain traits and behaviors from our ancestors, may also play a role. In this theory, behaviorists posit that if your grandmother was anxious, your mother will be, and you’re likely to be as well. While some might argue that being raised by an anxious mother would naturally turn out an anxious child, studies show otherwise.

Regardless of whether who we are is a product of genetics or the environment in which we are raised, there can be no doubt that maternal figures play a key role in helping us to become the person we are. They comfort us, encourage us, care for us, and provide for us in more ways than most of us can name. In doing so they help to teach us what it means to be a strong, caring force of love and support for those around us.

Our mother figures teach us so much. They provide us with language lessons that allow us to communicate, train us to be diplomatic and fair, and help us to look beyond ourselves to the world around us. It is our mother figures who give us the strength and the courage to embrace our future and leave our mark on the universe. 

The maternal figures in our lives, those who traditionally provide care and nurturing as we grow, help to give us confidence as we define ourselves for the world. And, if we are fortunate, it is the mother figure who teaches us how to do the same for others.

Mothers have been called the glue that holds the family together, although the glue is often under-appreciated. Celebrating Mother’s Day by acknowledging the woman who gets it all done not only provides a lift to her spirits, but it also helps to unify the family unit by pulling us together in a way that Sunday evening dinner does not. The celebration of Mother’s Day allows us to reflect on who we want to be as a family and how we’re all connected—a gift Mom is sure to appreciate no matter how it’s packaged.

This Mother’s Day, give her a token of your love but also spend time reflecting on the many gifts she gave you over the years.

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