Throughout the history of Mankind, mother-son relationships have been considered special. Many women say that having a son gives them a sense of completeness. One woman affirmed, “It is as if through him I have found the missing part of me.”
Patriarchal societies place greater value on sons. At times, being centered on the male child can become obsessive. In India, special rituals are held to invoke Divine intervention in granting a son. Sons are required to maintain lineage, to care for parents in their old age and ensure the salvation of souls after death. As such, boys receive preferential treatment, with best of food, health care, education and protection. This ‘son-preference’ leads to extensive female foeticide in several countries, resulting in a skewed sex ratio.
Researchers at Richmond University, Virginia, found that women develop a set of ‘maternal neurons’ that operate like ‘bad mother’ or ‘good mother’ switches in the brain. These clusters of brain cells, created during pregnancy and switched on after birth, are responsible for good or bad parenting. A certain number of neurons have to be switched on for ‘good mothering’ to take place.
A team at Yale University uses brain scans to study areas of the brain that drive good or bad mothering. Dr. James Swain says, “We have identified certain areas of the brain where there is a link between neuron activity and measure of ‘adequate’ or ‘inadequate’ parenting.’