The influences can star working even before the baby gets here. Some couple, while declaring publicly that they would be equally happy with a child of either sex, secretly nurture a preference for a boy or a girl. And some of them are so disappointed if their wish is not realized that, despite their best efforts, they respond to the child less enthusiastically than they would have otherwise during the first few weeks, which are a crucial period in the baby’s emotional development.
An even more typical instance of expectations clashing with reality is that of the new mother who has just spent nine months picturing herself in idyllic communication with a cooing, chubby cheeked infant. Instead she is handed a howling creature whose ruddy, wizened face is not yet plumped out with baby fat, whose head has been squeezed into a strange, elongated shape by its passage through the birth canal, and who utterly ignores her attempts to comfort him. On e mother described her experience thus,” I was all prepared to love my son, but my good feelings were challenged from the start. He cried constantly, and no matter what I did to soothe him, nothing worked. I hate to say this, but I began to resent him and did not like him very much during the first month or so.”
If a parent who has such feelings refuses to admit that they exist, she may unwittingly hold back some of the warmth and positive response that her baby needs. It is better for her to acknowledge her own emotions, so she can work consciously to compensate for them. Mothers often find relied in discussing such misgivings frankly with a close friend, family member or minister who can help put their feelings into a new perspective. The important thing to do is find ways to keep giving the infant the physical and verbal affection he needs, even if doing so requires a good deal of effort the child, who of course cannot control the way he looks or behaves, will in time repay these efforts a thousand fold.