- Paula Adamo Idoeta
- From BBC News Brazil to London
A common metaphor heard by overweight mothers is that they should, as required by airplane safety rules, wear an oxygen mask before putting it on children.
This expression has always referred to the importance for mothers to take care of themselves, rather than putting children first.
For researcher Suniya Luthar, however, this metaphor has a flaw: what mothers really need is to take care of other people, more than to spend time caring for them, as niya.
“It’s not about taking care of yourself, it’s about taking care of others,” said Luthar, professor emeritus at Teachers College, Columbia University (USA) and an emotional resilience researcher.
In reading especially on BBC Africa:
“If they use the oxygen mask metaphor, I’m saying it’s not about wearing your own oxygen mask before you put on your kids. It’s more about having someone. near can put your mask on for you.Because we mothers are always exhausted.The wind too.I’m sure I’ve exhausted it in the last two years (of the covid-19 pandemic), and many other women too, because it was a traumatic time, ”he said in an interview with BBC News Brazil.
Self -care – often thought of as a moment of respite from daily activities or a time for a massage, manicure session or an evening out with friends – has value, he said. by Luthar.
But today’s insistence on asking mothers to take care of themselves has two obstacles.
It was a teacher who said to me, “If someone else tells me that I need to take care of myself and get up again, I will lose my mind, because I am so overweight, overwhelmed with sadness and fear (of the pandemic), that I don’t want to be told yet to do it, ’” Ms. Luthar.
“How can I take care of myself when I’m almost done with everything I need to do in the day, with a lot of obligations, while having to take care of all the other people?” he continued.
The second problem, according to the academic, is that self-care, although relevant, does not take into account the human need: the emotional and unconditional support of other people.
“It’s not just mothers who don’t receive the love and support they need, they no longer expect to receive more, which is probably the biggest problem. We accept this account that we (mothers) have to do everything and comes to the end of the list .At best, you say, “I need to go out with friends, pedicure, night out”, but it’s rare for a mother to say, “I need to make sure someone else will take care of me and make it a priority “. (…) Eat it with your soul and your spirit. And it’s not something you do for yourself It’s something you have to do. someone will do it for you. You have to recognize that you need that help, “Luthar said.
To take care of children, you need to take care of their parents
This emotional network of support provided to mothers-or any primary caregiver-results in children also being more emotionally healthy and strong, the academic continues.
“That’s basically what strength science preaches. The National Academy of Sciences here in the United States makes it very clear: if you want a child to be good, you have to make sure their primary caregiver. And for that to happen you need to make sure the primary caregiver has the same love and support that you want to give your children. “
Luthar co -authored a pandemic study of 14,000 American school children – most of them vulnerable – in the first three months of the pandemic in 2020, to assess their ability to survive despite adversity.
The main conclusion is that the support children receive from their parents is essential for their emotional well -being.
“Analyzes of multiple risks or protective factors show that for depression, the strongest predictor is parental support, which is at least twice (the influence) of other predictors,” the study states. -ingon. So is the anxiety of children.
This discussion should not lead parents to blame themselves for failing to provide this support to their children, but rather to recognize the importance for primary caregivers to address their needs as well. emotional needs, Luthar said.
“I saw youand e Loved tikaand for what “
Mr. Luthar is the founder of an NGO called Authentic Connections Groups, which organizes virtual support groups for “anyone looking for strong, reliable, long-lasting support networks that provide comfort. from difficult times. hardship and stress “.
The group ran themed sessions for three months, after which participants were encouraged to keep in touch, either face-to-face or through WhatsApp groups, for example.
Mr. clarified. Luthar said participants are accepted from all over the world, as long as they can speak English. Sessions are paid, but “no one is turned down for lack of money, because I don’t want a mother to cry alone,” she says.
And while sharing grief is one of the goals of the reunion, the key is acceptance, she continues.
“It’s not just about having a friendly shoulder when you’re sad, even if that’s part of it. It’s also about sharing happy moments, accomplishments and having people celebrate your success. But most importantly thing, which is our mantra, that’s what everyone feels seen and loved for the person in their depths. That’s what everyone wants – rich, famous people, wise people, no matter what. “
This view challenges the idea that it is up to individuals to take care of themselves, Luthar agrees.
“This emphasis on individualism, on ‘quick, persevere, you can do it’-not that it doesn’t matter, because we have to do everything. (But) humanity is traumatized (in covid-19), everything has passed, at least through the uncertainties we have gone through. So to think that we can deal with it all alone is soulless at worst and impractical at best. “
According to Mr. Luthar, female teachers are a particularly vulnerable group. According to research conducted in the United States, they are already living with alarming levels of stress even before the appearance of the new coronavirus. The pandemic makes the problem even more serious.
“At the start of the pandemic, job burn rates (among teachers) were 20%. Now they are over 70%. It was not mild burns, but severe burns, in the red zone, and especially in the their work. teachers) are less effective in their work and cause an increase in the dropout rate-talented teachers leave the profession because they have reached their limit ”The answer again is that we need to support them . It is not enough to praise them, to say that they are heroes, but to really take care of them, as we want them to take care of our children ”, he said.
According to him, the emotional support groups established between teachers have a positive impact on this problem, by forming within the schools a culture of resilience and emotional support.
“A teacher who is very good benefits all the students in his class, even the parents (of the students) themselves. Pass on that benefit.”
Invite women to participate
According to Ms. Luthar, a constant challenge in getting women to join connection groups is to ensure that sessions are not canceled due to day-to-day work. Just as it is difficult for women to carve out time for self-care, it is also difficult to find time for emotional support. But Luthar sees it as most important.
“Women see that our meetings can be transformative, but everyone should be persuaded to make this commitment (and discard other obligations). We say ‘you have to do it for yourself.’ there will be needs when we become mothers or grandmothers. “
Luthar took one of his research, published in 2015, entitled “Who are mothers?”, Which focuses on unconditional acceptance, real personal relationships and the feeling of emotional comfort are named as which were the main factors that allowed stress avoidance in the mothers who participated in the study.
“My advice (to women) is this: help other mothers understand that they also need to be cared for (cared for).
“It’s definitely good to do meditation, thoughtfulness, these are great things. But number one is getting love and support from other people when you need it – and we” We all need that commitment. Your manicure is definitely over, but someone will put on your oxygen mask. “