Tuesday, December 20, 2005

What a Mother Means to Her Son: the Nurturer (1)

Today we pick back up the series on what the family means to a boy by looking at what a mother means to her son. I’ve already explored in brief what a father means to a boy. Now it’s time to look at what a mother means to her son.

A mother is first of all a nurturer for her son. The nurturing relationship expresses itself in two important ways. First, mother and son are connected physically in a way that father and son are not. The woman’s responsibility to intimately care for her son begins immediately after detection of pregnancy. The father cares for his child—of course he does. But he cannot care for his child the way his wife can. He is physically prevented from doing so. His wife, on the other hand, must care for the child by taking care of her body and eating the right foods. Her strength is her infant’s strength, and so she must nurture her baby immediately. Without this care, the child will not flourish and may not live.

Mother continues her special nurturing relationship with her son following birth. She is tasked by creation to feed her son, a task she alone can do. One cannot fail to see the intimacy this connection brings. The mother is literally giving her body to the child. Far from a mere exercise in feeding, though, mother and child form a deep and lasting bond in her provision of food. The child learns to depend on his mother, to seek her for help, to trust in her to care and love him. Clearly, there is much more involved in physical nurturing than mere transmission of nutrients.

As the child grows and switches to less connected forms of physical nourishment, emotional care only intensifies. The boy becomes more complex emotionally. Mother is responsible for managing these emotions on a daily basis and is in fact specially equipped to read and understand her boy. She feeds his body by providing food, his mind by reading to him, his soul by teaching him truth. When Dad must leave for the day, Mom is there to lead her son through it. She and her boy play together, laugh together, cry together. She disciplines him when he lies, hugs him when he falls, hears him when he talks. The nurturing bond forged in the womb and sustained after birth reaches into early childhood, and full-fledged adolescence, and the teen years. Through it all, Mom and son forge a special relationship that is a delicate balance of trust and concern, reward and discipline, instruction and enjoyment. It is a beautiful thing to see, and it stems from God’s design for the family, an institution of intricacy and beauty no human mind could conceive.


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