Although the mother’s love is absolutely necessary for the child to be able to develop mentally properly, it achieves its purpose only when it is natural, sincere and properly directed. It is natural for a mother to be tender to her child when she is free from all artificiality, exaggeration, sentimentality and other painful feelings. A mother’s feelings are sincere if they stem from her pure interest in her child, from enjoying its existence, without being poisoned by unconscious selfish tendencies, a desire to solve her own unresolved emotional problems, or the need to find a substitute and comfort in her child from life’s disappointments. The mother directs her love for the child correctly when, in every procedure with it, she has in mind first of all its real interests, needs and its tasks in life. Such a mother puts herself in the background. She does not strive to make her child a source of happiness in life but helps it succeed in life.
With such an attitude towards her child, she is rewarded by life many times over. With its feelings, the child senses very well the mother’s different attitudes towards itself. It instinctively distinguishes the mother’s true love from the apparent, artificiality from sincerity, spontaneity from acting, even if it is unconscious. When the mother treats the child in a natural way, when she realistically raises it, helping it to cope as well as possible in the reality of life, the child will surely love her, will respect her and will be loyal to her, without her having to fight for its love. The less the mother consciously tries to make the child fall in love with her, the more likely it is that it will be attached to her with healthier feelings.
Yet there are many mothers who persistently fight for the love of their child, as if they are constantly afraid that they might lose it. In fact, they are right. Not only do such mothers easily lose their child’s loyalty, but it often happens that they do not gain it. A convulsive mother’s effort to bond with her child as much as possible is a sure sign that unhealthy motives are hiding behind it. It is regularly about incomplete, insufficient or even just an apparent motherly love. It is therefore understandable that it cannot manifest in a natural way, but its manifestations are artificial, exaggerated, and painful.
A broken motherly love remains broken when the mother is a sick, neurotic person, who in her emotional attitudes towards other people is always insecure and timid, restrained and distrustful, and so she is like that with her child as well. Every person is unique; in all areas of life they perform with the same basic characteristics, so they cannot fail them even in the educational process. It is characteristic of a neurotic personality that they do not know how to enter into a completely intimate and open emotional relationship with another person, in which there are no barriers, doubts or fears. That is why they cannot completely surrender to them mentally, they cannot fully empathize with them, they do not understand them, they do not adapt to them to a sufficient extent. The consequence is that they cannot even love them “with all their heart.” Therefore, neurotic women are not good mothers because they cannot mobilize enough sincere emotional warmth in relation to the child.
Even a mentally well-groomed, emotionally mature woman finds it difficult to be a good mother if she is not happy in marriage. Disappointment in sexual life and lack of a positive emotional relationship with her husband keep such a woman in a constant state of mental tension, dissatisfaction and grumpiness, and this easily leads to a certain aversion towards the child. It should be borne in mind that the child is a direct consequence of the mother’s sexual life. That is why the feelings experienced in sexual contact with the husband are directly transmitted to the child. This connection between the mother’s sexual life and her emotional attitude towards the child is reinforced by the fact that it is in her nature and in motherhood that a woman experiences the strongest feelings.
A mother’s love hardly comes to light when the mother did not want the child she gave birth to. Maybe she had objective reasons for that: difficult financial circumstances, unemployment, poor housing; she may not be married or have not completed her schooling. In many cases, a woman does not want a child when she is not happy with her husband, so she does not feel the need for a child from a partner who has disappointed her. Or it is a woman who is dissatisfied with her femininity, who would actually want to be a man. That is why they emotionally rejected all specifically female functions, including motherhood. American author N. Newton found that such women relatively often suffer from various psychogenic disorders of menstruation and pregnancy. They are very repulsive to childbirth and breastfeeding, and their maternal feelings are relatively weak. But no matter what the reason is that a child is not wanted or for that matter given birth to, such a child is almost impossible to sincerely love.
Lack of love for the child, or just lukewarm feelings for it, regularly lead the mother to unnatural, selfish attitudes. The child often serves her as a consolation, as a substitute for her disappointments in marriage, as compensation for unfulfilled life ambitions. Either the mother relives her emotional conflicts on the child, seeks relief in contact with it, or with the help of the child, she takes revenge on someone, abusing it as a weapon in the fight with her environment, most often with her spouse. In each of these cases, the child is not the object of the mother’s tenderness and the goal of her educational efforts but is a means to achieve another goal that has nothing to do with the child and its life needs. Then it is understandable that the mother makes educational mistakes and mentally impairs its development.
Therefore, it is better for a woman not to give birth to a child if she does not want it and if she is not sure that she will be able to love it sincerely. It is very risky to have children in a failed marriage. It is completely wrong to think that a child can relieve the mother of her neurotic disorders. The child is not an object, it is a subject, and it cannot be a path to any selfish goals of the mother, so it cannot serve her as a cure for her nervous problems. A neurotic person runs away from tasks, difficulties, and emotional burdens; they don’t want to bother with anything, anywhere. And the child requires care and it is a responsibility; it requires the engagement of the whole mother’s personality, with all her sensibilities. That is why a neurotic woman becomes even more irritable, impatient, grumpy and depressed, or even sicker from various psychogenic disorders if she is burdened with a child. This inevitably turns her into a bad educator, because it is impossible to love what is perceived as too much of a burden.
The same misconception is the belief that a child can sort out a failed marriage or save a marital union that is in disarray. When two people sincerely love each other, their child connects them into an even stronger emotional community, as it gives them a new opportunity for joint efforts and joy. But the unhappy spouses’ presence leads to new quarrels. It serves them as a new reason for mutual defiance, respect and insults, so their mutual intolerance intensifies. In an unhappy marriage, sometimes both parents fight for the child, incite it against each other, or, on the contrary, neglect it. Therefore, contradictive spouses should be advised not to have children until they have arranged their marriage; if they already have a child, let them refrain from fighting one another until the fate of their marriage is decided.
It happens that a woman tries to get pregnant even before marriage and give birth to a child in order to keep a sexual partner whom she does not trust, imagining that she will use the child to prevent the termination of a failed relationship. It is true that in this way a woman sometimes achieves the desired goal, but only formally. A child can never become a reason for a man to fall in love again with a woman he has stopped loving or has never even been in love with. And the child will suffer in such a situation because neither the mother nor the father will be able to sincerely love it.
These unnatural motivations of the mother in her attitude towards the child are regularly manifested in the wrong upbringing of the young person. A neurotic, dissatisfied in life, and disappointed in marriage mother is very prone to bond with her child too much. She wants to always have it exclusively for herself, as a means of entertainment, as her toy, as something exclusive, completely and forever hers. This encourages her to keep her child completely dependent on herself by systematically caressing, serving and protecting herself from every burden, even when she has long since ceased to be a weak being. Such a mother does not allow her child independence, constantly keeps it by her side, does not let it into society, keeps it completely under her influence, deprives it of the opportunity to build its free, mature “I”. Then the child remains in adulthood very dependent, incompetent, dependent on the mother, indecisive, mentally weak, painfully attached to the mother, infantile in their emotional reactions and prone to neurotic difficulties.
These are usually boys, most often children with no siblings. Neurotic mothers see in them a compromise between their aspirations for intimacy with the opposite sex and their neurotic fear of a man. The boy is a “harmless man” for such a mother, to whom she can show all her unsatisfied erotic aspirations, without the need to act as a full-fledged woman, without the danger that someone will demand normal sexuality from her and without fear of proving to be a less valuable partner. It is therefore understandable that a neurotic mother unconsciously introduces a certain erotic note into her relationship with her son, showering him with loving tenderness.
But a child cannot be both a child and a lover at the same time. Here the mother conflicts with herself because she would like to unite in herself two different levels of emotional experience that cannot be reduced to the same. Maternal love is one thing and sexual love is another. They can exist in the same person, side by side, because they are not mutually exclusive; but they cannot merge into a single emotional attitude towards the same person. The same man cannot be loved in two different ways.
When a mother, therefore, wants to experience both a child and a man in her son at the same time, her love for him will most certainly be unnatural and misdirected. Consciously, such a woman is only a mother to her child, but she unconsciously desires it erotically. And that doesn’t allow her to treat him in a natural motherly way. Wrongly directed love leads the mother to absurd actions with the child, to servile obedience to all his whims, to yield to all his demands, always praising the child, to the meaningless justification of all his shortcomings, to bland sentimentality towards him, to childish servitude, to humiliation in front of him, to trampling on her own pride.
A neurotic mother holds her 10-year-old son tight on her lap and feeds him with a spoon. She follows him to the toilet to take his clothes off, dresses him and undresses him from head to toe, washes and bathes him, does his homework, accompanies him to school, carries his bag, greets him when he leaves school and constantly asks him if he has any wishes.
Another mother allows her son, an immature 17-year-old boy, to take things out of the house and sell them to raise money for banking and spending time with prostitutes. When the mother tries to gently oppose the young man’s wishes, he is rude to her, insults her with vulgar words, and sometimes hits her. Then his mother begs him for forgiveness and to calm down, promising him that she will do everything she wants for him.
A few details from the daily life of a mother who is sicklily attached to her son will point to the fact that the unconscious motive of the mother’s pathological infatuation with the son is her erotic interest in him. One mother did not stop bathing her son even when he was already 20 years old. A second one allows a half-grown son to kiss her neck like a lover.
During my military service, my friend read me a letter he had received from his mother. If I didn’t know who the letter was from, I would be convinced it was written to him by a girl. It was interspersed with expressions of miles that are a natural thing in a love letter, but by no means fit into a mother’s letter.
A woman lived with her adult son in a large family home. He slept on the ground floor and she on the first floor. When the young man got married and brought his wife, the mother moved to the ground floor with a naive excuse, right next to the young couple’s bedroom. It is a phenomenon that one author calls the “erotica of the next room.”
It is the tragedy of such mothers, who misdirect their motherly love, that they do not achieve what they so long for. The painful love of a parent cannot evoke a healthy emotional reaction in a child, but only negative emotions. A son who is too attached to his mother does not love his mother with natural filial love. He stubbornly clings to her lap, does not move away from her, relies on her in everything, is obedient to her, satisfies her desires. But he does not do it out of love for her, but because he cannot do without her, he needs her, because he is too independent. This makes him dissatisfied; he rebels in himself against his mother, against her influence, but he does not dare to oppose, to become independent and to go on his own way in life, because he does not possess a firm, independent “I”. That feeling of being weak, of not having his own will, offends him in his own eyes, and his hurt pride makes him aggressive toward his mother. That is why he often becomes rude, harsh and reckless with her. It doesn’t help him solve his life problems more successfully. The knowledge that his mother’s painful love has made him incapable in life, an incompetent mollusk, a reluctant lazy person or an unadaptable, oversensitive and aggressive being, makes him even more repulsive to his mother, whom he sometimes begins to openly hate. Then the painfully disappointed mother accuses her son of “ingratitude.” But his attitude towards her is actually logical because he has nothing to be grateful for. With her pathological emotionality and completely wrong upbringing, she deeply damaged him, making his average life tasks unsolvable problems. Her son really can’t be thankful for that.
The most severe consequences of a sick emotional connection with the mother occur in a boy’s life when he grows into an adult male and begins to take an interest in women. Such a man is usually not free to choose a sexual partner or spouse. His mother’s character is constantly involved in his relationship with his wife. He compares the girl to his mother, asks her for her mother’s physical and mental characteristics, requires her to behave like his mother, expects her to treat him in a motherly way. This makes it much harder for him to create a happy love life. And he makes the same mistake his mother made. He wants to react to the same person from two psychologically different positions – from the point of view of the lover and from the point of view of the child. This inhibits him in emotionally connecting with a woman, brings him into a state of internal conflict, and this is manifested in various neurotic ailments, most often in psychogenic sexual power disorder. Partial impotence, usually in the form of premature ejaculation (ejaculatio preaecox) is typical of such people. It is an expression of their emotional ambivalence towards women; they want her with a sexual urge, but at the same time they reject her with neurotic emotions, because they see in her a mother towards whom they cannot feel love, but only filial feelings.
An overly attached mother is jealous of every woman her son approaches. Because she raised her son for herself, to resolve her emotional conflicts, not for his independent life, she can’t stand her son feeling emotionally connected to another woman. Then the mother feels abandoned, rejected and deceived. She sees her son’s girlfriend or wife as an enemy, as a rival who stole everything she had in life, the only thing she lived for, in which she invested all her emotionality. That is why she becomes aggressive towards her “rival”, tries to distance her from her son, does not dare to denigrate her in front of her son. If the son marries her, the mother-in-law interferes in his marriage, constantly complains from the daughter-in-law, makes her life miserable at every step, incites the son against her, in short, does everything to separate the son from the hated daughter-in-law.
In this jealousy of every woman her son falls in love with, the distinct selfishness of such a mother comes to the fore.
The example of a young couple is characteristic in this respect. When the young man and the girl became so close that they decided to get married, he introduced the chosen one to his mother and began to bring her home. The mother received the girl seemingly kindly, but until recently she began to warn her son – ostensibly in good faith – of her shortcomings, i.e. the girl’s behavior towards her future mother-in-law. The mother complained to her son that the girl did not appreciate her enough, that she greeted her superficially, that she did not accept her instructions about dressing, preparing meals and the like. However, she kept silent that she constantly complained to the girl and generously shared her advice with a touch of underestimation. The girl also complained to her young man about the behavior of her future mother-in-law and asked him to move to another place when they got married. But the young man did not have the courage or enough love to side with his chosen one in the conflict between his mother and the girl. Instead, he demanded that the girl adjusts to his mother, that she be obedient and kind to her in spite of his mother’s “complaints.” Although he has his own profession and job, he did not dare to decide for himself where he would live. He was given the opportunity to get an apartment and good furniture in another place. He asked his mother for permission to move away from her; she forbade him to do so, and he obeyed. Then quarrels broke out among the young couple. He did not dare to oppose his mother, and the girl resented him more and more. They began to move apart emotionally more and more. This was recently reflected in their sexual life as well: his potency weakened, and she stopped experiencing pleasure in sexual contact. When the young man definitely refused to move away from his mother, the girl left him on our advice. It was then that her neurotic ailments, insomnia, psychogenic headaches, and irritability that arose as she lived in a conflict between interest in the young man and dissatisfaction with his sick connection to his mother, subsided.
The accentuated mother’s love for the child, which manifests itself in excessive concern for the child, in panic fear for it, in artificial tenderness and sweet sentimentality, is sometimes an expression of hidden aversion to the child or even pronounced hatred. These are mothers who do not dare to show their true feelings for their child in front of their own conscience, so a strong sense of guilt drives them to play the “crazy” love to their child. However, love can be neither crazy nor exaggerated; if it seems so, then it is a sign that something unhealthy is hidden in it, that it is incomplete, distorted, or absent in all. Unhealthy maternal love sooner or later still shows its true face.
Instructive is the example of a mother who was so worried about the life of her otherwise completely healthy newborn that she got up several times at night and went to its cradle and listened to see if it was breathing properly. Deep in the unconscious spheres of her personality lurks a latent desire for her child to stop breathing. That she really didn’t love him was best proved two or three years later when she beat him mercilessly for every little thing, just enjoying his moaning.