Understanding Maternal Influence

authentically you relationships Apr 30, 2024

The way you learned to connect and communicate with your mom or the woman who raised you—let’s call her your maternal figure—shapes how you relate to others. This idea is called "internal working models" and it means that your early experiences with her can shape how you understand relationships and trust. If you had a strong bond, you might find it easier to make good friends. But if your relationship was tough, you might have a harder time with friendships and feeling good about yourself.

Research has been collected and studied as how family connections affect grown-ups for a long time and associations are made where emotional and social behavior can be predicted from early encounters. When you're trying to figure out who you are in relationships—to yourself or with others—sometimes it’s helpful to look back. Paying attention to your life from the start of it can help you find happiness, feel good about life, and stay healthy in body and mind.

There's much research showing that what kids experience growing up really matters. The issues you might have with your maternal figure can be traced back to John Bowlby's attachment theory. This theory says babies naturally want to get close to their main caregiver, often their mom. Bowlby thought this closeness when you're little shapes how you do in relationships as a grown-up.

 

Here are a few things to think about when you remember your maternal figure—remember it may not be negative AT ALL:

  1. Emotional Strength: The way you connected with your maternal figure affects how strong you feel inside as you grow up. A good relationship can make you feel more confident and able to handle tough times.
  2. Feeling Good About Yourself: The way your maternal figure treated you can shape how you feel about yourself. Nice experiences can help you feel good about who you are, while tricky relationships might make you doubt yourself.
  3. Making Friends: You learn how to talk and get along with others from your maternal figure. Good times together teach you how to talk nicely and understand others, which helps when you're older.
  4. Trust and Closeness: How close you were to your maternal figure can affect how well you trust and connect with people as you grow up. Feeling safe and loved as a kid helps build healthy relationships later on.
  5. Learning from Parenting: Your maternal figure’s way of raising you shapes how you think and act, which affects how you live and make friends. 

Research shows that our family ties are super important and can guide us through life. Even if you didn't have the best relationship with your maternal figure when you were little, you can still work on having healthier relationships and feeling good as an adult. Recognize the reality of your experience and process those feelings. The goal is to focus on growing personally, being kind to yourself, and building good relationships that make life better.

Understanding these links can help you be intentional about relationships and feel stronger and happier as you grow up—both with yourself and with others.

Be sure to practice self-compassion and be kind to yourself as you navigate these reflections. Understand that your experiences have shaped you but don't define you. Treat yourself with the same care and understanding you would offer a friend. If things feel tough, it's okay to talk to someone you trust or a professional for support and advice.

It’s about the journey, not the destination

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