Mum, you were right! (Again)
Neuroscience has given us scientific proof of something every mother instinctively knows: a deep, special connection between a mother and her child. Even more amazing is that this bond is reflected in a synchronisation(!) between the mother and child brain activity, confirming the existence of an unspoken special language, an extraordinary brain connection.
In a groundbreaking 2019 study published in Nature Research, researchers uncovered something fascinating: Parenting stresses in mums can sometimes weaken this extraordinary mother-child bond.
When mothers experience high levels of parenting-related stress, their brain synchronisation with their child’s brain tends to decrease.
This loss of synchronisation occurs in a part of the brain crucial for understanding others’ thoughts and emotions and regulating our feelings, called the medial prefrontal cortex.
This effect is so pronounced that some evidence suggests a connection between conditions like ADHD and Autism and this strained mother-child bond.
Tantrums when mum’s around.
This may help clarify the growing concern among mothers who notice a significant deterioration in their children’s behaviour when they are together.
When mothers are stressed, their brain scans suggest that they find it more challenging to grasp their child’s emotions and to see things from their child’s perspective. This stress can make their brains work differently. We know from other research that stress can reduce the activity of the part of the brain that drives maternal instincts, which seems to connect with these findings.
You’re NOT a bad mum.
If you ever experience this, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t make you a bad mother!
It may be a sign that you might be trying to be too perfect of a mother.
You need to give yourself a break. It’s time to let go of the idea of being a perfect parent and stop worrying about what other parents or teachers might think. You’ve got this! Your brain is physically made to be a fantastic mum. Get rid of the ‘perfect parent’ influencers and content on social media, it’s all glamourised nonsense – relax into becoming an organic mum.
You’ve got it in You!
Yes, you’ll make mistakes along the way, we all do. Mistakes are how we learn and improve, and there’s still so much to learn, a fact that applies to all of us, even brain nerds. No one can do a better job of raising your kids than you can…and for your kids to be okay, you need to be okay.
Dads, this implies that we have a significant responsibility to fulfil our roles as father figures. In order for our children to flourish, their mother needs a strong and dependable support system, and that’s where we come in.
“The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”
~ Theodore Hesburg
So much love to you, our wonderful bambooh Families.
About the author:
Petré Smith is a co-founder of bambooh® and holds an MSc in Applied Neuroscience from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at King’s College London.
Azhari, A., Leck, W. Q., Gabrieli, G., Bizzego, A., Rigo, P., Setoh, P., Bornstein, M. H., & Esposito, G. (2019). Parenting stress undermines Mother-Child Brain-to-Brain synchrony: A Hyperscanning study. Scientific Reports, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-47810-4
Fateh, A. A., Huang, W., Hassan, M. S., Zhuang, Y., Lin, J., Luo, Y., Yang, B., & Zeng, H. (2023). Default mode network connectivity and social dysfunction in children with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, 23(4), 100393. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijchp.2023.100393
McCarthy, M. M. (2023). Pregnancy programs the brain for mothering. Science, 382(6666), 33–34. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.adk2495