Ambivalent Mothers And Child Maltreatment

With Daniela F. Sieff

In Western culture, both the lay public and mental health professionals tend to believe that mothers evolved to love all their children instinctually and unconditionally. In contrast, any mother who feels negatively towards her child is typically seen as unnatural.

In this talk, Daniela draws on evolutionary research to challenge this widespread view of motherhood. Her aim is to show that when maternal negativity is approached with compassionate curiosity, we can better help faltering mothers. In particular, she proposes that when we become aware of how our evolutionary heritage influences mothering, we develop a more nuanced and compassionate understanding of maternal negativity.

Such an understanding does not minimise the impact of maternal negativity on children, but it does have the potential to contribute to work with individual mothers, and also to programs focused on the preventing maternal maltreatment of children.

Daniela F. Sieff

Author, Scholar and Speaker