Motherhood used to be as American as apple pie. Nowadays it can be as antagonistic as American politics. Ask Erica Komisar.Jewish women are famous for being feminists, but that does not mean that they favor equality between moms and dads. In Israel, moms get custody of small children.
Ms. Komisar, 53, is a Jewish psychoanalyst who lives and practices on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. ...
The premise of Ms. Komisar’s book—backed by research in psychology, neuroscience and epigenetics—is that “mothers are biologically necessary for babies,” and not only for the obvious reasons of pregnancy and birth. “Babies are much more neurologically fragile than we’ve ever understood,” Ms. Komisar says. She cites the view of one neuroscientist, Nim Tottenham of Columbia University, “that babies are born without a central nervous system” and “mothers are the central nervous system to babies,” especially for the first nine months after birth.
What does that mean? “Every time a mother comforts a baby in distress, she’s actually regulating that baby’s emotions from the outside in. After three years, the baby internalizes that ability to regulate their emotions, but not until then.” For that reason, mothers “need to be there as much as possible, both physically and emotionally, for children in the first 1,000 days.” ...
Women produce more oxytocin than men do, which answers the obvious question of why fathers aren’t as well-suited as mothers for this sort of “sensitive, empathetic nurturing.” ...
Whereas a mother of a crying baby will “lean into the pain and say, ‘Oh, honey!’ ” a father is more apt to tell the child: “C’mon, you’re OK. Brush yourself off; let’s go back to play.” Children, especially boys, need that paternal nurturing to learn to control their aggression and become self-sufficient. But during the first stages of childhood, motherly love is more vital.
The book claims to be relying on scientific data, but according to the National Parents Organization, she is wrong:
“Women produce more oxytocin than men do.” Really? Actually, no they don’t. See here (Medical Express, 4/20/16) and here (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2014).Taranto explains that her view is resisted by some liberals:
When she was shopping for a literary agent, she tells me, “a number of the agents said, ‘No, we couldn’t touch that. That would make women feel guilty.’ ” Another time she was rejected for a speaking gig at a health conference. She quotes the head of the host institution as telling her: “You are going to make women feel badly. How dare you?”Now there is the view of a pseudo-scientific Jewish psychoanalyst. Jews very much believe in using guilt and psychotherapy to control people. They act as if everyone has the same weirdo anxieties that they do.
In Ms. Komisar’s view, guilt isn’t necessarily bad. “My best patient is a patient who comes to me feeling guilty,” she says. “Women who feel guilty — it’s a ‘signal’ feeling, that something’s wrong, that they’re in conflict. If they go talk to a therapist or deal with the conflict head-on, they often make different choices and better choices.”
I can believe that there are natural differences between moms and dads, and how they relate to kids. I can also believe care from natural parents jointly is better than the alternatives. But I don't think that we have any proof that mom-care is better than dad-care. In fact, I suspect that day-care is better than care from a single mom. Mom-care works best when it is under the direction and authority of the dad.