A mother's love is..

 

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Category: Women Date: 08 May 05

 

The sight of a mother weeping over her dead criminal son or one being led away in the police jail van is now a common one in our newspapers and televisions. He may have raped, killed, robbed, physically and verbally abused a woman, or a child. But his mother will weep and wail and say “He was such a good boy. He didn’t do anything wrong. They (the victims) are wrong. The police brutalised him. He doesn’t deserve a prison sentence. He didn’t deserve to die.”

 

A mother’s grief is almost always moving. But not this time. We just shake our heads, glad that the criminal is being put away or dead and wonder at such misplaced love.

 

The irony is that the criminal stares back impassively at his mother as unmoved by her tears as he is by the life shattering trauma of his victims and their families. We watch stunned as such imperturbability. Is the man an animal, we ask one another. Can he do so much damage and not look bothered by it? He must be bothered, he must have a conscience we think to console ourselves. And then we look at his dull unseeing eyes. He is not.

 

The psychologist Elliot Barker tells us to look no further for explanations than the mother who even now is protesting her criminal child’s innocence.

 

“Evidence exists that criminals are created early in childhood; disruptions caused by extreme and multiple separations from caregivers in the first three to five years of life impair later capacities for trust, empathy, and affection. In the first few years of a child’s life, the relationship with the mother usually seems to be the most significant.

 

Many psychopaths have had rather twisted relationships with their mothers: some being too distant, never offering love or any affection; others are too close to them."

 

Brian Brownlow, another psychologist gives this profile of a criminal’s behaviour.

 

“A lot of the evidence seems to point the cause of criminal behaviour towards a bad upbringing. Criminals tend to be especially high on impulsivity, hyperactivity, sensation seeking, and risk taking.

 

“Persons prone toward criminality are said to bore quickly and easily, and need to seek out new and more intense stimulations than that provided by normal daily experiences. Their stimulus-seeking behaviours are likely to include deviant and criminal acts, particularly if they lack legitimate opportunities to satiate their stimulus needs.

 

“Most criminals have a history of poor performance at instrumental tasks. This typically results in a very limited education, and, as an adult, a poor work history and a limited income. Not unexpectedly, such persons have a low investment in and are antagonistic to conventional society.

 

“For such persons the potential loss of the rewards associated with normal society do not pose a substantial cost.”

 

Put simply criminals do what they do, what they want, without remorse or regard to others.

 

The present I’d like to give all mothers including myself today comes in the form of questions starting with this one: Are you a good mother?

 

By good I mean: do you and I teach our sons to empathise with those who are in pain or suffering or need help, or do we deny them this essential humanity by wanting to spare them any trouble?

 

Do you tell your son to protect the weak, to stand up for the vulnerable, or does your “love” take the form of giving in to all his demands be it a phone, computer, car, money?

 

Do you risk being unpopular with your son by putting him straight when he is rude, demanding, unkind, selfish, abusive, or do you let it pass because you love him so much? Are you bullying him, or allowing it, knowing that one day the victim will turn perpetrator? Are you striking the balance between closeness and space?

 

A mother’s overindulgence can stifle a son to death. Give yourself a present this Mother’s Day. Give yourself a son knows the difference between standing up for himself and being a bully, a son who will never one day look out of a prison van with vacant eyes.

 

Happy Mother’s Day.

 

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All Articles Copyright Ira Mathur