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Thread: Maternal Awareness

  1. #1
    Wizengamot Ravenclaw
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    Maternal Awareness

    I have been toying with the idea of a monster who preys on the insecurities of those who have never known their mothers. But while I was thinking of this concept I got to wonder how Harry wasn't able to see Thestrals until he had seen Cedric die because when he was a baby, he couldn't understand death.

    What I wonder is how old is a baby before they understand that their mother is really their mother. This monster would mostly prey on children whose mothers died durin childbirth or in their early lives, or mothers who gave their children up. But children who had their mothers in their lives long enough to know that this person was their mother would be uneffected.

    So, how old is a child when they first become aware of the role of their mother?

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  2. #2
    memish
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    We learned in psychology that "secure attachment" to caregivers in general is finished by age one. However, the child wouldn't know the difference between it being Mom or Dad or Great-Uncle Joe. I honestly don't think you can know if the child knows it's a mother or not becuase the baby couldn't express that.
    However, we also learned that people don't have any memories at ALL from before around age 3. So, maybe you could use that.

  3. #3
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    Alternatively, you could argue all children are connected to their mothers from a point before birth, so such a thing would be impossible. Perhaps this theoretical monster preys on the emotions associated by the separation instead; the earlier the separation, the more whatever it can gain from feeding on it.
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  4. #4
    SilverLily_13
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    I'm not sure if this is helpful, but there was a study once about babies' concept of self. And they somehow figured out that a baby (under a year old even), when viewing themselves in a mirror, will assume that whatever the reflection is is part of themselves. So if their mother is holding them and showing them the mirror, they see a woman and a baby as one person, and they think the person is them, a single entity. From what I could understand of the study, it was just because they were so used to seeing the other person anyway, or something like that. I don't know if it was a stranger, maybe they'd wonder where the other part of their self went?

    Oh, and there's this weird mindset that people have, mostly people with slight personality complexes, where they look into the mirror and they think that it's not themselves, so they have to figure it out gradually (they just "expand their sense of self" the study said) whenever they see their reflection before they can say 'oh, yes, that's me.' (They didn't test babies for that, there are just some random grown people out there who have that way of thinking.)

    So babies can identify with their mothers/fathers usually, I guess that's what the study shows. It could be spun to mean that babies have such a close bond with their mothers that they believe they are part of them--I don't know if they know of their role in their life yet. But babies cry and scream, so their short term memory must know that those bring a response from someone, and that the response is they get fed or changed or cuddled; so they are probably aware of a protective presence, but not so much any one individual.

    Mothers, on the other hand, have a strong bond with their children (yeah... stating the obvious). But there was another study about that where mothers were found to be able to identify their child by scent only.

    Hope this long rambling post helped! :)

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  5. #5
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    Originally posted by DeadManSeven
    Alternatively, you could argue all children are connected to their mothers from a point before birth, so such a thing would be impossible. Perhaps this theoretical monster preys on the emotions associated by the separation instead; the earlier the separation, the more whatever it can gain from feeding on it.
    I totally agree with this. Because, while we may not remember anything before the age of three, I think we have a special sort of connection with our mothers. For example, one of my parents friends are originally from China, and had a child there. Because of immigration issues, they couldn't bring the baby with them and he had to stay with his grandparents. They brought him back here when everything was sorted out and after a few days, he was fully adapted to being with his mother and father. Of course he probably will still have that connection with his grandparents because they looked after him for so long but parents are parents. I don't think you can really replace them..

    So, with your idea, Molly, I think if you want to follow through with it in some way, you should keep it at three and arrange the conditions in which it effects children a bit differently. As in, them still knowing who there mothers are from day dot but needing to actually remember their mothers as a person and not just a soul.. If that makes sense? Which it probably doesn't.. :\

    But, anyway, this is totally up to you.

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  6. #6
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    There's a psychologist by the name of John Bowlby who did a lot of research into this, if you want more information on this subject, I suggest you look him up and his theory on attachment.

    Infants become attached to whoever their primary care giver is, it doesn't matter who this person is, mother, father, sister, uncle, foster carer, whoever. They need someone who provides comfort, food and security (look up Harlow's experiment on mokeys for more information on this), and they go to whoever gives this when they're scared or upset. My boyfriend's mother is a foster parent, and at the moment she's got little 16 month old girl. The mother used to live with them as well, and so was the baby's primary care giver from birth until she decided she couldn't cope with everything and left just after Christmas, when her daughter would have been nine months old. She still has contact with her daughter, and the baby recognises her mother, but it is always my boyfriend's mum that she wants to go to if she's tired or has fallen over, which suggest that she doesn't know that her mother actually is her mother; it's the person who has given her the most care and attention recently that she want's comfort from. She also calls my boyfriend's mum 'mummy'.

    They've got another little girl who has just turned three. When she's with my boyfriend's mum, she goes to her if she's hurt or wants a cuddle or something and appears to have formed an attachment to her, but she also talks about her mummy, and knows that my boyfriend's mum isn't her mother. I've never seen the girl and her mother together, but seeing as she knows that Louise isn't her mother, she'd be more affectionate towards her real mum. This suggests that it's somewhere between the age of sixteen months and three years old that children become aware that their mother is their mother.

    Originally posted by DeadManSeven
    Alternatively, you could argue all children are connected to their mothers from a point before birth, so such a thing would be impossible. Perhaps this theoretical monster preys on the emotions associated by the separation instead; the earlier the separation, the more whatever it can gain from feeding on it.
    I don't think that this can be true because of what I've said about the sixteen month old foster kid. If she did have some sort of connection to her mother, wouldn't she be the one she went to if scared or hurt? But instead, she goes to Louise, even though for the first nine months of her life, her real mother was her primary care giver.

    There are different types of attachment, and I think that is perhaps what the monsters can sense and prey on. Most children are what's called 'securely attached', but there are also other, more negative types of attachment which result if the care giver doesn't respond to the child's needs, or is inconsistant in their affection being one minute cold and the next minute loving. For more information on this, look up Mary Ainsworth, who did most of the research into this, and also Mary Main, who did some furthur work.

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  7. #7
    Wizengamot Ravenclaw
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    Would you say, though, that by the time Lily was murder, little Harry was aware that she was his mother?

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    Wasn't Harry a year old? Yeah, he would definitely have known she was his mother. Both of my children were calling me Mommy and having separation anxiety by the age of one, even before that.

    I don't mean that he would remember any of it later, but when he wakes up as a one year old at the Dursleys... I'd be very surprised to learn he was not extremely fussy/unhappy for a while, possibly even asking for his Mum and Dad.
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  9. #9
    Wizengamot Hufflepuff
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    Would you say, though, that by the time Lily was murder, little Harry was aware that she was his mother?
    I agree with Lori. My kids were calling me 'mummy' before they were a year old. They weren't just saying mamamama - which is just babyspeak, it was a definite knowledge that I was someone in their lives.
    Understanding the concept of what a mother is would come much later, but they can identify who their mother is and differentiate from their dad from a very early age (it's to do with scent and also the pitch of someone's voice.

    However, we also learned that people don't have any memories at ALL from before around age 3. So, maybe you could use that.
    Well, I have a very clear memory from the age of two when I broke my leg. I remember climbing on the chair, falling off, and also the rather horrible doctor who put the plaster casing on my leg. And I know other people who claim to remember wallpaper patterns from houses they lived in before they were a year old. So, I don't think that's entirely accurate.

    Harry would remember the feeling of being loved and feeling secure.

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