Survey of scientific literature finds that children need their mom for first 3 years

Child grabs for his mom, who is leaving for work
Child grabs for his mom, who is leaving for work

Recently, an article published in the Wall Street Journal reported on a research survey done by a far-left Democrat psychotherapist based in far-left New York City. Surprisingly, her book caused an uproar among the author’s left-wing allies. How come?


Motherhood used to be as American as apple pie. Nowadays it can be as antagonistic as American politics. Ask Erica Komisar.

Ms. Komisar, 53, is a Jewish psychoanalyst who lives and practices on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. If that biographical thumbnail leads you to stereotype her as a political liberal, you’re right. But she tells me she has become “a bit of a pariah” on the left because of the book she published this year, “Being There: Why Prioritizing Motherhood in the First Three Years Matters.”

[…]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.”

What’s interesting about this is how the left responds to the science. They don’t want to see anything that challenges their desires to focus on fun in the short-term, but have marriage and successful children in the long-term.


Christian radio stations “interviewed me and loved me,” she says. She went on “Fox & Friends,” and “the host was like, your book is the best thing since the invention of the refrigerator.” But “I couldn’t get on NPR,” and “I was rejected wholesale—particularly in New York—by the liberal press.” She did appear on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” but seconds before the camera went live, she says, the interviewer told her: “I don’t believe in the premise of your book at all. I don’t like your book.”

[…]Ms. Komisar tells of hosting a charity gathering for millennials at her apartment. One young woman “asked me what my book was about. I told her, and she got so angry. She almost had fire coming out of her eyes, she was so angry at my message. She said, ‘You are going to set women back 50 years.’ I said, ‘Gosh, I wouldn’t want to do that.’ ”

[…]The needs of children get lost in all this—and Ms. Komisar hears repeatedly that the hostility to her message is born of guilt. 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?”

[…]“The thing I dislike the most is day care,” she says. “It’s really not appropriate for children under the age of 3,” because it is “overstimulating” given their neurological undevelopment. She cites the “Strange Situation experiments,” devised in 1969 by developmental psychologist Mary Ainsworth, a pioneer of attachment theory: “A mother and the baby are on the floor playing. The mother gets up and leaves the baby in the room alone. The baby has a separation-anxiety response. A stranger walks in; the baby has a stressed reaction to the stranger.”

[…]Researchers sample the infant’s saliva and test it for cortisol, a hormone associated with stress (and inversely correlated with oxytocin). In a series of such experiments in which Ms. Komisar herself participated, “the levels were so high in the babies that the anticipation was that it would . . . in the end, cause disorders and problems.” In a more recent variant of the experiment, scientists use functional magnetic resonance imaging to look directly at the brain of an infant reacting to photos of the mother and of a stranger.

You’d think that people would be happy to find out how the world works, and adjust their decisions to match. But they’re not. The only good evidence is evidence that confirms their desires and ideology.

Let’s look at one of the studies, to see some evidence.

Brain scans of 3-year old children: normal vs neglected
Brain scans of 3-year old children: normal vs neglected

The UK Telegraph reported on a recent study that measured the brain development of 3-year-old children.


Take a careful look at the image of two brains on this page. The picture is of the brains of two three-year-old children. It’s obvious that the brain on the left is much bigger than the one on the right. The image on the left also has fewer spots, and far fewer dark “fuzzy” areas.

To neurologists who study the brain, and who have worked out how to interpret the images, the difference between these two brains is both remarkable and shocking. The brain on the right lacks some of the most fundamental areas present in the image on the left. Those deficits make it impossible for that child to develop capacities that the child on the left will have: the child on the right will grow into an adult who is less intelligent, less able to empathise with others, more likely to become addicted to drugs and involved in violent crime than the child on the left. The child on the right is much more likely to be unemployed and to be dependent on welfare, and to develop mental and other serious health problems.

[…]The primary cause of the extraordinary difference between the brains of these two three-year-old children is the way they were treated by their mothers. The child with the much more fully developed brain was cherished by its mother, who was constantly and fully responsive to her baby.

The child with the shrivelled brain was neglected and abused. That difference in treatment explains why one child’s brain develops fully, and the other’s does not.

[…]Professor Allan Schore, of UCLA, who has surveyed the scientific literature and has made significant contributions to it, stresses that the growth of brain cells is a “consequence of an infant’s interaction with the main caregiver [usually the mother]”.

The growth of the baby’s brain “literally requires positive interaction between mother and infant. The development of cerebral circuits depends on it.”

I like bringing science to bear on moral issues. The more you read about the science, the less wiggle-room there is for feelings. Doing the right thing (e.g. – saving money for a stay-at-home mom) is hard because it feels bad. But when you inform yourself with science, it makes it easier to override your bad feelings, because you know you’re doing the right thing to achieve a result.

16 thoughts on “Survey of scientific literature finds that children need their mom for first 3 years”

  1. I am happy to report that my son’s biological mother stayed at home full-time for five years until he was ready for kindergarten school. Today he has a 4.3 GPA wants to be an electrical engineer and is in his third year of the high school robotics team. He’s in his junior year in high school and we are starting to look at colleges now. We both think he will end up at Purdue.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Interesting hypothesis about facts making less room for feelings-based decisions. There is something true about that, and yet I am starting to wonder if people actually don’t care about facts, no matter how many, especially when it comes to infringing on a woman’s career. So much lip service is paid to the guilt they feel when working with kids, but by watching their actions the last 20 years, I have mainly noticed a steel determination to make the career the utmost of their lives.
    It’s a demonstration of why I think the church is missing in action. If they were the ones encouraging Moms to stay home, then it puts a feelings-pressure on women to conform, that an individual conversation using facts can’t do as well. Facts are needed, even if the church is cowardly, I guess I am frustrated reading your post because I don’t think any Christian cares.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s not just the anti-child career focus that is resistant to evidence, it’s the whole feminist narrative of drinking, being pomiscuous, running up student loans and getting tattoos. None of this satisfies in the long run. But because this is what society tells women is praiseworthy, that’s what they do. We need to teach women to do the things that result in long term happiness: marriage and children. We need to teach them to not care what a bunch of aging bitter childless debt-ridden feminists tell them.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I agree with you 100% about the church being useless for teaching women. It’s just Bible, praise hymns and prayer all the time, no Christian worldview or planning. They just want to let the secular culture lead women astray, not teach them how to really take the Bible seriously about things like chastity, sobriety, marriage and children.


  3. They won’t learn from this – they love themselves more than they love their children. Something broken in a woman who will leave her baby like that.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What’s also weird is that men choose to make babies with women like that. A man ought to be more concerned about the needs of his children. The first way to love your children is to marry a woman who understands their needs and sacrifices her desires to care for the little ones.


      1. Wife and I agreed at the time that one of us would always stay home – we would not let other people raise our children. At the time we were not Christian so we did not have developed thoughts on the distinct roles of husbands and wives. Nevertheless we would have rather been homeless than leave our babies with a stranger.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It’s so strange. When I was back home doing my graduate degree, I struggled to leave the house even for a few hours because I wasn’t comfortable leaving him by himself. I used to call home from the lab to check on him. I think it would be much worse with a toddler. One reason men need to be careful with who they make babies with, because she has to be on board with raising them.


  4. Global warming and LGBTQ issues are all the left cares about now.

    Here in Canada the left wing parties are all pushing climate change and LGBTQ platforms. And are trying to demonize the right wing parties for not enough climate policies and only saying they beleive in the cosititution and all citizens and that they have no intent to roll back any LGBT laws or abortion laws.

    But that is seen as bad policy to the left.

    And to many Canadians that are sane we care about jobs and a balanced budget. Which is why the left and the media can’t understand the citizens

    Liked by 1 person

  5. There are indisputable facts ( sounds like a cliche ) that babies when neglected will have significant consequences in terms of mental, physical, social problems later in life. Overall, I agree for the most part with this article. I take issue however, with the CT scan and its interpretation. See link:
    It is important to understand that researchers will not be able to obtain permission from IRB to do a CT scan of normal child –let alone parent will allow due to risk of tumor formation. So, I doubt all those scans out there in the internet — 3 year old comparison I call into question….cut and paste ? . Normal vs extreme neglect CT side by side. Question: Where is the “scout view” How can one compare adequately without knowing what level of the axial cut is shown on CT scan. It will be like comparing apple with oranges. ” image on the left also has fewer spots, and far fewer dark “fuzzy” areas.” Question: Without knowing which level of the brain is shown one cannot make such a statement. By level I mean Comments such as ” brain on the right lacks some of the most fundamental areas present in the image on the left.” My question is what are the most fundamental areas lacking ? Finally, my point is not disputing the main thrust of the argument. I am questioning the reliability and the interpretation of CT scan of brain


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