BY GEORGE CAMPBELL HAGE, ED. D., PH. D., LPCS
The family in traditional society has been comprised of a husband, wife, and child or children. Mom and wife provide the heart of the father and husband, and children provide the heart of the mother. In today’s more heterogeneous societies, this mix may vary due to adoptions, foster care, marriage, and non-marital bonds that emerge from homosexual and transgender relationships.
But over the last 28 years of counseling, my interactions have been primarily with the mother and her children. At times the father of the child was involved, but most of the time he was not. Hence, the primary family core was mother and child.
Mothers demonstrate by nature heart and passion for their child. Mother also conveys heart and passion for either her husband or the father of her child. Mother’s heart, in reality, conveys the life and bond of the family.
Mother bore her child in her womb for nine months, and in birthing, felt great pain emerging from her being and that of her child. In conceiving and carrying her child, she experienced the baby’s growth, movements, and messages from the forming heart of the child to her heart.
In counseling with her and her child, I have learned that mom knows her child even more than the child knows him- or herself. No matter the age of the child, whether 7 or 17, she knows the heart and mind of her child. Interestingly, I am very fond of the way African-American mothers refer to their sons and daughters, even if 17 or older, as their “baby.”
The power of that metaphor conveys nurturing love and caring, the depth of understanding for the message of the child, and the unique and intricate personality of the child. Regarding the first two ideas, mom holds her child next to her heart and much of the time nourishes his or her very being from her breasts. Through her breasts flow not only physical nourishment but also the intimate exchange of edifying messages of spirit and mind. In mom’s embrace, the art of her child’s personality is shaped.
In essence, the personality of the child is a work of art first inscribed by mom. As unique and complete as the different fingerprints and brain maps of different people, so is her child’s personality. She is the artist and her child the work of art. As the artist knows his work, she alone knows hers.
This dawned on me, much later in my life, despite my years of work with mom(s), children, and families—this even despite all of my schooling and education. Such wisdom, I believe, comes not merely from books and even interactive experience. Rather, it comes from the heart.
As a counselor, I have developed, and am still developing, not only a truly professional love for my child clients, but I also see myself cultivating a heart for my maternal clients. As a counselor, I see the high value of letting mother guide me in working with her child. In this way, I affirm her wisdom and touch the heart of her child. In all, I see the wisdom in valuing the heart of mother specifically, and that of women in general.