Erica Komisar, author of Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters, has suggested the absence of mothers on a daily basis in children’s lives impacts their mental health.
Komisar argues that mothers need to be physically and emotionally available for their children during their first three years because they are “much more neurologically fragile than we’ve ever understood.”
Citing multiple studies, Komisar suggests babies suffer separation anxiety when their mothers leave them due to increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
“Every time a mother comforts a baby in distress, she’s actually regulating that baby’s emotions from the outside in,” she said. “After three years, the baby internalises that ability to regulate their emotions, but not until then.”
“Daycare is my least favorite option,” Komisar told the New York Post. “You’re taking a very young baby and you’re exposing them to a great deal of stimulation, and a great deal of fear. So, when you take them out of their immediate environment and you put them in a group environment, with a lot of children, and a lot of stimulation, and a lot of noise, and a lot of people, that’s not the natural environment for babies.”
Komisar goes on to argue that, on a societal level, we need to recognize that mother’s work is valuable work. “That mothers do the most valuable work in society, they raise emotionally healthy children who become emotionally healthy adults. There is no more valuable and no more important work.”
Komisar explains her research further in the video below: