When a woman becomes a mother, her own mother’s (or significant maternal figure’s) importance in her life is renewed and intensified. Suddenly, in addition to being her mother’s daughter, she is also herself a mother to her baby. Feeling responsible for one’s baby’s life, growth, and development can be exhilarating and terrifying. As the new mother must herself grow into her maternal role, she needs her own maternal figure to turn to, either in reality or in her mind, for guidance, support, and nurturance. In some way or another, new mothers find themselves caught up with their mother or with images of their mother, mentally going back and forth between their own early experiences of being parented and each moment lived in the present with their baby.
Many women long to have their mother help them take care of the baby. Others fear their mother’s judgment or intrusion. Most want their mother’s presence and at the same time feel some ambivalence about that presence. Some wonder if they can be as good a mother as their own; others hope they can be a different sort of mother to their child than their mother was to them. Some no longer have their mother and suddenly re-experience a mourning period, feeling their mother’s absence poignantly at the moment of becoming a mother themselves. They may turn to another maternal figure, such as a nanny or a mother-in-law, for help and advice.
We have found that every mother, whatever her unique circumstances may be and whether or not she has a positive maternal role model in her life, wants help to find her own way and to learn to trust her own inner voice when it comes to raising her child. In our Mother-Child Groups, women receive guidance and support from a warm, non-judgmental, and experienced group leader, whom many come to consider a kind of maternal figure. We offer an opportunity to bond with a community of other new mothers who are also looking for a place to share their questions, their experiences, and their feelings. We believe that there is no right or wrong way to be a parent and the group leader’s goal is to help each new mother become confident and comfortable with her own unique parenting style.