from Winnicott on the Child by D.W. Winnicott page 203
copyright © 2002 The Winnicott Trust
Perseus Books Group 11 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142 www.perseusbooks.com
or Home Is Where We Start From: Essays by a Psychologist - copyright © 1986 the Estate of D.W.Winnicott, W.W. Norton & Company 1986
THE MOTHER'S CONTRIBUTION TO SOCIETY
It seems to me there is something missing in human society. Children grow up and become in turn fathers and mothers, but, on the whole, they do not grow up to acknowledge just what their mothers did for them at the start. The reason is that the part the mother plays has only recently begun to be perceived. [...]
In the last half century there has been a great increase in awareness of the value of the home. (It cannot be helped if this awareness came first out of an understanding of the effect of a bad home.) We know something of the reasons why this long and exacting task, the parent's job of seeing their children through is worth doing; and in fast, we believe that it provides the only real basis for society, and the only factory for the democratic tendency in a country's social system.
But the home of the parents' is not the child's responsibility. I want to be very clear that I'm not asking anyone to be expressing gratitude. [...] I am concerned with the mother's relation to her baby just before the birth and in the first weeks and months after the birth. I am trying to draw attention to the immense contribution to the individual and to society that the ordinary good mother with her husband in support makes at the beginning, and which she does simply through being devoted to her infant.[...]
At present, the importance of the mother at the start is often denied, and instead it is said that in the early months it is only a technique of bodily care that is needed, and that therefore a good nurse will do just as well. [...]
Administrative tidiness, the dictates of hygiene, a laudable urge towards the promotion of bodily health—these and all sorts of other things get between the mother and her baby, and it is unlikely that the mothers themselves will rise up in a concerted effort to protest against interference. Someone must act for the young mothers who are having their first and second babies, and who are necessarily themselves in a dependant state. [...]
Probably some who have already been through the mothering experience, and who therefore can afford to have a look around, will be interested to read what is said in this way, and they may be able to help to do what is so much needed at the present time, that is to say, to give moral support to the ordinary good mother, [...] and to protect her from everyone and everything that gets between her baby and herself. We all join forces in enabling the emotional relationship between the mother and her new baby to start and develop naturally. This collective task is an extension of the job of the father, of the father's job at the beginning, at the time when his wife is carrying, bearing and suckling his infant; in the period before the infant can make use of him on other ways.
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