Natural design alone speaks to a child’s innate need for a mother. Procreation requires a father and a mother; every child has a biological father and mother. However, beyond this obvious fact, there are developmental benefits that come exclusively from motherhood that are indisputable and irreplaceable. Optimal development of a child requires the presence of a mother in his or her life, ideally the biological mother.
A number of studies outline unique contributions mothers make to their children.[i] For instance, a mother’s responsiveness to her child promotes brain development, including the ability to interact, in the child.[ii] Mothers provide crucial direction to fathers on childcare tasks.[iii] Mothers are typically closer to their children emotionally and have more and more open communication than fathers.[iv] Women play with their children differently than do men, emphasizing interaction, predictability and joint problem-solving.[v] Mothers impose limits and discipline more frequently, but with greater flexibility, than do fathers.[vi] The role of mothers in helping children develop language and communication skills is usually greater than that of fathers.[vii] Mothers help their children develop empathy for others by helping them understand the emotions of others as well as their own.[viii] Mothers provide an important role in getting children to connect to extended family and their peers.[ix]
[i] American College of Pediatricians. Defending Traditional Marriage. Position statement. 2013. Excerpted portion.
[ii] See C.A. Nelson and M. Bosquet, Neurobiology of Fetal and Infant Development: Implications for Infant Mental Health, in Handbook of Infant Mental Health 37 (2d ed., C.H. Zeanah Jr., editor, 2000); M. DeWolff and M. van Izjendoorn, Sensitivity and Attachment: A Meta-Analysis on Parental Antecedents of Infant Attachment 68 Child Development 571 (1997); M. Main and J. Solomon, Discovery of an Insecure-Disorganized Disoriented Attachment Pattern, in Affective Development in Infancy 95 (T.B. Brazelton and M.W. Yogman eds., 1986).
[iii] Sandra L. Hofferth et al., The Demography of Fathers: What Fathers Do, in Handbook of Father Involvement: Multidisciplinary Perspectives 81 (Catherine Tamis-Lamonda and Natasha Cabrera eds., 2002); Scott Coltrane, Family Man 54 (1996).
[iv] Ross D. Parke, Fatherhood 7 (1996).
[v] Eleanor Macoby, The Two Sexes 266-67 (1998); Parke, Fatherhood at 5; Kyle D. Pruett & Marsha Kline Pruett, Partnership Parenting: How Men and Women Parent Differently – Why It Helps Your Kids and Can Strengthen Your Marriage 18-19 (2009).
[vi] Macoby, The Two Sexes at 273.
[vii] Parke, Fatherhood at 6.
[viii] Suzanne A. Denham et al., Prediction of Externalizing Behavior Problems From Early to Middle Childhood: The Role of Parental Socialization and Emotion Expression, in Development and Psychopathology 23 (2000); Macoby, The Two Sexes at 272.
[ix] Paul Amato, More Than Money? Men’s Contributions to Their Children’s Lives? in Men in Families, When Do They Get Involved? What Difference Does It Make? 267 (Alan Booth and Ann C. Crouter, eds. 1998).