Monday, February 27, 2006

Mother is the word for God on the lips and hearts of children.

How many kids join gangs to find “family” because there is no family at home?
If you want an answer as to why children do some of the things they do it is important to understand the depth of the “mother …God”, quote. At first it may sound sacrilegious. However the deeper implications of what it means cannot be overlooked as it provides a window into who and what all of us are.

There is a movie, (The Crow), where in a pivotal scene the main character tells a drug addicted mother that “mother is the word for God on the lips and hearts of children everywhere.” In this moment of clarity the mother begins to weep knowing that for too long she has left her only child unattended to be raised by the streets while she herself is absorbed in a lifestyle of drugs, alcohol, and likely prostitution. It is a pivotal scene that needs to be played out in many lives in our society. How many kids join gangs to find “family” because there is no family at home?

What is “mother”? What should that mean to a child? Children see “mother” as the provider, the protector, the source of all life. That “mother” can be a savior. Mother is the one who is supposed to hear our cries for help. Mother is the one who is supposed to sooth our wounds. Mother is very much like “God” in this sense.

It is the parental figure where the entire idea of trust, love, and boundaries first originate from. This “mother” is the thing where we all get our first taste of what human society is supposed to be about. “Mother” goes far beyond being an example of what human interaction should be and becomes the blueprint for the entire interpersonal / social life of a human being.

This person will be a savior or a devil.
An infant recognizes his / her mother first by smell. Immediately after birth the baby is able to recognize his mother’s voice and scent from others. Before birth that very bond begins and should carry on for the rest of the child’s life. This is the person that the child first knows will either meet his needs or abandon them. This person will be a savior or a devil.

“Mother” will be the first example of humanity to a child. How mother behaves will form how the child views every other human in the world. Mother is a model for all humanity to a child. If the child grows up being afraid of or angry at his / her mother…then they will every other adult as well. That is until we prove them different. Sometimes “proving” takes a long time and it should. It should take a long time to undo a lifetime worth of pain created by an adult who should’ve been that child’s one source of protection, shelter, and love.

In the 50’s and 60’s children abandoned by their parents were often cared for in hospital nurseries. But because so many children ended up in these makeshift orphanages nurses often only had time to feed and change them. There was no time for cuddling, cooing, or otherwise emotionally nurturing these newborns. Though their physical needs were met, many of these children actually died. Those that did not often grew up to have difficulty developing relationships and forming bonds with others because no bond was ever formed with their mother. Many of these children grew up to be sociopaths.

No rules meant that killing could become easier.

Research into the lives of serial killers reveals some very disturbing details. In nearly all of the serial killers studied little or no bond was ever developed between the mother and the child as an infant. As the child cried out it soon learned that no one would respond. It didn’t develop a sense of boundaries or of limits. As time passed it did not grow the pathways needed in the brain to feel empathy. It began to feel that if no boundaries were ever established with it then there truly are no boundaries for anyone else. No boundaries meant no rules. No rules meant that killing could become easier.

The children I deal with in foster care have broken relationships with their mothers and fathers. It does not mean that they will become killers but it does mean that they have lost something deeply emotional that no child should be denied. If you believe in God I want you to imagine that God came to you one day and told you that you were worthless. That you didn’t matter. Imagine if God said to you that you are on your own in this world. Or worse yet what if that God beat you, used you for horrible things, or denied you basic shelter, food, and warmth. How would you feel?

If “God” acts like a devil…
Mother is the word for God on the hearts and lips of children. If “God” acts like a devil why do we wonder why kids mutilate themselves, seek closeness by sexual promiscuity, abuse drugs, or attack others with little or no provocation? From early childhood many of these kids learn to live in fear. Fear that mom or dad will not be there. Fear that mom or dad or someone else in the family will rape them. Fear that mom or dad will beat them to death.

Fear is a prime motivator for aggression. Fear in any animal makes it more dangerous. These children grow up living in fear. If their own mothers or fathers do not love or care for them then why would or should anyone else? Fear of being abandoned again to fear of being emotionally scarred again. Fear brings aggression as aggression gives the child some feeling of control. When a child cuts her arms, throws a desk, or curses an adult over minor issues he / she feels just for a moment some sense of control. Even though that may not make much sense to us.

If you are afraid you will be more likely to lash out. That is true with all of us. Many of us would never consider harming another human being, but if you threaten a petite mother of three with harming her children you most likely would have a fight on your hands. Fear with some individuals is different though in how it manifests itself. Though it may not be appropriate or even normal it can work the same. A man walks into a workplace and shoots up fellow employees almost always after a series of pre incident indicators. Some of which include, mental illness, abusive and violent attitude, and almost always the loss of some perceived important thing. Fear of the loss of “life” control is an underlying driver in many if not all of these shootings. We all fear being out of control but when you combine that natural fear with abnormal things such as mental illness and violent anger you have the recipe for aggression that seems very out of the norm.

We are all similar in some ways. We all do the things we do for a reason. The way we are raised, the love or lack of love we had growing up, the moral compass that was instilled in us or neglected all dictate how we will make choices. Choices that are fully ours but choices that nonetheless can center on who and what our version of “mother” was. If that parental figure was more of a devil than a god then chances are there will be hell to pay…