Maternal Deprivation 1

MATERNAL DEPRIVATION Research & Case-Study on: Maternal Deprivation and Neglect on a Child Erin Pembroke, March 5, 2013

Maternal Deprivation 2 Abstract This study examined the relationship between parents of both sexes and their children but more-so, the relationship between mothers and their children. I hypothesized that the less parents in general and mothers are equipped and were nurturing to their children, the more maternally deprived the children became and the less emotionally, socially and physically developed they became. I also hypothesized that the more nurturing, love and social interaction a child receives, the more intellectual they became or able to understand higher intellectual concepts.

Maternal Deprivation 3 Research & Case-Study on: Maternal Deprivation and Neglect on a Child Introduction Toddlers and children need emotional, physical and social contact with not just their environment, but their parents as well. These fundamental needs contribute to emotional and social development and can be brought out by their mothers. The problem occurs when the mother is not equipped to promote such needs. According to Rhawn Joseph’s “Attachment and Maternal Love during Infancy and Childhood,” There are babies who love to cuddle and mothers that do not (p. 12). When a mother does not like to cuddle, she does what is necessary as a mother such as feed, clothe and nurture her child or baby and then continues on with her tasks and needs (p. 12). The mother will hold and touch the child when necessary but not give as much nurturing as what the child desires. A mother such as this one will only physically nurture her child as a positive reaction to her child’s nurturing need or response (p. 12). Methods: Observation Participants In my own case-study, I have observed a female child at the ages of 5 ½ and 6 and the child’s (single) mother. Based on the facts presented to me by the mother, the mother did not receive adequate emotional, physical and social nurturing by her own mother. She claimed that her mother did not hug her or hold her and that she does not know how to do so for her daughter. She also said that her mother did not adequately nurture her and that she needs someone to show her how so that she can do it for her own daughter. Drawing upon such statements, I have witnessed in her own actions, that she did not hold her daughter long enough but only what was necessary for the daughter. She also

Maternal Deprivation 4 kept the child at arm’s length when she went to her bedroom or while conversing on the cell-phone. The mother did not tuck her daughter in bed, kiss her goodnight and yet did nurture her daughter when she got sick from a cold. Also drawing upon actions and statements, the mother has never changed her daughter’s diapers but has always had another care-giver in the form of a baby-sitter, nanny or friend do it for her and take on the role as a maternal care-giver or mother in her place. My finings can be supported by the American Psychologist, Harry Harlow and his experiment with young rhesus monkeys. In the first part of the experiment, Harlow separated some monkeys from their mother upon birth. He placed them with two false surrogate mother monkeys where one monkey was wired and had a nipple that provided nourishment and the other was warm and covered in soft terry cloth. The young monkeys clung to the cloth surrogate yet reached over to get their food (while being in the arms of the cloth surrogate) from the wired surrogate (Schultheis, ¶6). In another part of the experiment, Harlow isolated some young female rhesus monkeys and when they grew up and became mothers, they were negligent or abusive. The negligent mothers did not comfort, nurture or protect their babies nor did they harm them (Schultheis, ¶9). Thus, “deprivation of emotional bonds to live mother monkeys (as infant monkeys) these (now adult) monkeys were unable to create a secure attachment with their own offspring,” proves that children seek love, affection and acceptance from their mother or caregiver (Schultheis, ¶9). This part of the experiment more-so than the first part, is what I have witnessed where the lack of attachment from the mother to the daughter deprives the daughter of love, affection and acceptance.

Maternal Deprivation 5 First Result In these accounts, the child is not receiving adequate maternal care. The daughter is in some realistic sense and while beneath the superficial nurturing, being maternally deprived. However, the child may not fully know or understand it now because it only receives “an adequate amount of stimulation, but not as much as it desires.” The daughter may see that the mother is providing love and care and yet may also feel she needs more and does not or cannot express that need and so chooses to remain silent or do nothing. In conjunction with the idea that some mothers are not nurturing types or not equipped to handle the emotional and physical needs of their child, is the idea of unintentional neglect. The neglect may be unintentional because the parent may be too busy at work or with their own lives that they fail to notice the needs of their child or children. “Children who have parents who were always too busy and thus tended to neglect and ignore them create an environment which is just as abusive as those homes where the children are screamed at and beat (Joseph, p. 14).” Thus, children become impaired and lose the ability to feel worthwhile as a person and to give and receive love (Joseph, p. 14). Although parents can be caught up in working too many hours, being on the PTA or beautifying their home, they do not perceive their actions as neglectful but as a good and caring parent. However, sometimes their motivations and intentions may be skewed and “designed to ward off closeness which the parent feels uncomfortable with. Thus, being at PTA is a convenient excuse for not being home hugging and loving their children (Joseph, p. 15).”

Maternal Deprivation 6 The children of such parents are only left with a void that is felt when their parents are not home. They are not aware of the intentions that their parents deem as good. When a child expresses such an absence in their needs, their parents may tell them their needs are not justified and the child may feel guilty (Joseph, p. 15). Neglect can also occur when the parents are busy at home as well. They may not communicate to their child or their body movements portray that they are too busy and should not be bothered. For instance, in my own case-study, the child’s mother was on the PTA, had a beautiful home and worked many hours yet when she was present at home; she barely gave the child any attention. She may have used these activities as an excuse to ward off closeness that she did not feel comfortable with and in her absence, the child did greatly express a longing for her mother and to quote in her own words, “a fear of being alone.” The more the mother was away from her daughter, the more the daughter latched on to me and sought out love, affection and nurturing from me. It was natural for her because I was the next thing to a mother she could have at that particular moment in her life. The child started hugging me before bed and expressed great sadness and a fear of going to sleep. Little by little, the girl’s behavior changed. Her behavior was not the same as it was when I first met her. When I first met her, she never had such fears or strongly sought out affection. When I dropped her off at elementary school, her behavior changed from wanting to rush into school with an excited look on her face to wanting to be held longer. One day, as she refused to let go of me, “why do I have to go to school? (Circa February 2013).” I knew for certain that her behavior had changed because of a lack nurturing from her mother. She was in fact, maternally deprived underneath the façade of her mother’s good intentions to take care of her.

Maternal Deprivation 7 Children may not be aware of the neglect because they may remember the nice materialistic things that they have had and the nice things people have said about them (Joseph, p. 16). Unfortunately, they lack one of the most basic needs, which is love. They will feel an internal void or numbness (Joseph, p. 16). They will also feel that they are not important and lack self-worth (Joseph, p. 16). They make think that their feelings are not important to others and may not recognize that they are missing something. Maybe, they will recognize it if they see another child or classmate receiving love from that child’s parent but chances are, they probably will not. In my experience with the girl, I saw the void in her eyes, actions and in the words she spoke. After having a pillow fight with another little girl that was at her house, she said to me with a sad expression on her face, “I wish we can have a pillow fight.” I knew that her mother did not engage in fun and playful activities with her. Her mother hardly allowed her to go on playgrounds because she did not have the time or they were too dirty. Her mother just wanted her daughter to sit for several hours in front of the Wii and as I quote her, “like a good girl” and do nothing else but play the Wii. Her mother thought arts and crafts “are crap that is meant to be thrown in the trash,” since they make messes and aren’t of any important use. The reason for these thought processes and actions are because the mother never did these things as a child nor watched cartoons and did not understand that all of these things help promote social and emotional development in her child. She has not realized that by materially depriving her child of fundamental needs, she is also hindering her child’s social, emotional and physical development.

Maternal Deprivation 8 In contrast, when I was in contact with another child and that child’s parent, the child’s emotional, social and physical needs were beyond met and thus beyond developed. The parent did everything in their power to not only provide but to give an abundant amount of love, affection and nurturing. I have witnessed on many accounts when the girl hugs either one of the (separated/unmarried) parents, that they return the hug back. They give and receive a hug to and from their daughter that satisfies her until she is ready to enter the school with an older school mate for reassurance. One of the child’s parents takes her to birthday parties, playgrounds, parks, and fairs. The parent plays with the child both indoors and outdoors. They color, horse around, and play with her toys. The other parent takes the girl shopping and deals with the feminine aspects of being a girl. Ergo, this girl receives social interaction from her parents (primarily from one more than the other) that promote and advance her social development. This girl has been introduced to a repertoire of concepts such as spirituality, meditation, and meanings of words and actions. It is of no wonder and to any person’s amazement that she is at an advance stage of not only social interaction and development, but also in intellectual development for a child. This girl has also recently made the honor-roll with the help of one parent’s unique teachings and guidance. Discussion and Final Results Interestingly enough and in disparity to my hypothesis, when I asked this child’s parent (circa: March 2, 2013) if the love, affection and nurturing has made their daughter more intelligent, the parent replied, “no, because she is going to get the intelligence from outside sources like school, but the love and nurturing will allow her to use her

Maternal Deprivation 9 intelligence in a constructive manner.” The response not only sounds plausible, but makes it seem like social development more-so than emotional and physical development contribute to how a child uses their intelligence in the present and how they will use it in the future, whether for the right or wrong means. Yet, social, emotional, and physical developments all still go hand in hand with how a child uses their intelligence in the present moment and in the future. In opposition to the girl that made the honor-roll, the previous girl lacked social development in the spiritual and words and actions arena and cannot understand such concepts. Not only has her intelligence been mired because of a lack of introducing intellectual and social ideas, her social development have also been hindered with regards to playing with other children. When taken to a playground, the previous child would stand on the sidewalk and be afraid of sand getting inside their shoes. Next, this particular girl would stand in the sand, still making sure that no sand got in her shoes. Followed by, asking me to play with her on the playground instead of with the other children. Afterward, this child would approach and stand around the other children or play with the playground’s equipment while other children walks pass her. Lastly, I or another adult will then encourage her to play with the other children and with several persuasions, she will then decide to talk to a child or two and end up playing with them. Once again, my results can be supported by Harlow and his experiment with the young rhesus monkeys. When Harlow placed the young rhesus monkeys in a room with the surrogate mothers, they used the surrogate mothers as a secure base to explore the room (Cherry, 2013, ¶9). However, when the surrogate mothers were removed from the

Maternal Deprivation 10 room, the monkeys did not want to explore the room and began to freeze up, cry, rock, crouch, and cry or scream (Cherry, 2013, ¶10). Like the young rhesus monkeys, this girl did freeze up and used me as a secure base to explore the playground and playing with other children. However, if it were not for these persuasions and encouragement, she would have stood on the sand for either half the time or for the entire duration as she has on countless occasions. This particular girl lacks some social development and social interaction with her peers because she not only does not receive it from her mother, her mother does not show or encourage the social interaction among her peers. In retrospect, she barely attended birthday parties and playgrounds because her mother disliked them. To conclude, some mothers and parents in general do deprive their children of maternal love either because they are not equipped or comfortable with doing so. They not only deprive them of such nurturing but also can unintentionally neglect them due to their busy lives. In the end, these children have voids that they cannot fix and either seeks too much love or they become too cold and deprive others of love, nurturing and attention. They also seek mates later in life that may also deprive them of such needs and affections.

Maternal Deprivation 11 References Cherry, Kendra (2013). The Science of Love: Harry Harlow & the Nature of Affection. Retrieved March 6, 2013, from historyofpsychology/p/harlow_love.htm Joseph, Rhawn (n.d). Attachment and Maternal Love during Infancy and Childhood. Retrieved March 5, 2013, from MaternalLoveInfancyChildhood.html Schultheis, Erin (n.d). Harry F. Harlow. Retrieved March 6, 2013, from psycweb/history/harlow.htm

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