Once a girl has a baby, she is considered an adult.
On becoming pregnant, a woman’s hormone system changes and her thinking and emotions become focussed around the unborn child. When the child is born, the new mother performs her task as a caregiver in a manner that has been formed in the course of hundreds of thousands of years. The young mother quicklybecomes attached to her child. She communicates with it from the beginning: she holds, feeds, cleans, hugs and nurtures it; she is veryaware of any signal the newborn sends out, and is concerned when something seems wrong. Besides attachment and care the mother experiences deeply pleasurable sexual feelings towards her baby when she kisses, cuddles or breastfeeds it.
Attachment, lust and care are the three elements of human behaviour that play a role in every human relationship. They are constantly moving, influenced by internal fluctuations and by signals from the environment.Sometimes one of them is dominant, sometimes another: during courtship, lust and attachment will be dominant, whereas between parents and children caregiving plays a more important role. When a sick or handicapped person needs ourhelp, our sexual desire willgenerally be diminished, while caregiving dominates. When we are strongly sexually attracted to someone, our care system as well as the need for attachment may be suppressed. But generally speaking, all three systems are active to some extent, the outcome depending on the perceived nature of the relationship and subject to individual and social stimulation or inhibition.
Intimate relationships, such as those within the family,are characterized by the most deeply felt emotions and behavioural expressions that the human species is capable of. When a child is born into a couple’s life, the balance of emotions changes dramatically as the mother, who is attached to the father and has a sexual relationship with him, changes into the primary caretaker of the child. The father who is (insecurely) attached to the mother, may feel deserted and angry. Also he experiences the secret wish to meet a new lover or find sexual gratification elsewhere.When the sexual appetite between husband and wife diminishes, their attachment and caregiving may grow sufficiently to keep them together, but they are usually insufficient to compensate for the loss of sexual excitement. Conflicts are unavoidable. The fear of abandonment is a mainstay of the emotional life and relationship of mother, father and child alike.
The involvement of fathers in the life of children varies considerably more than that of mothers. Generally, fathers are most involved when the child is still very young. Later, the man’s interests and ambition revert to the outside world. This is how it has always been.