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OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR MOTHER

Fr Jim Cogley



We all have one, and to her we owe our very existence. Throughout life she remains that hugely influential relationship in our lives, whether she died at ninety or even at our birth, whether she be still with us or long since departed – the hand that rocked our cradle still influences our world and may well hold us back. In the womb we had no identity apart from our mother and that continued into early years and to a large extent even into our teens. This was when our selfhood or self-identity began to emerge and for this to happen successfully it demanded a going away on our side and a letting go on the part of our mother. This separating is a primary psychological task in life and for a multitude of reasons it often doesn’t happen. We may not have had the courage to go, or we may never have been given the freedom to do so.


Genuine maternal love that is unconditional and all embracing is a real expression of divine love. It is our first experience of God’s love. Often there are unconscious factors that come into play as the relationship develops. A child may become the substitute for another who was lost. Also a mother with drive and ambition who was held back because of her mothering role may have ambitions for her child to fulfill her own unrealized ambitions. In being seen to promote her child she is also advancing herself. In encouraging him or her to climb the heights she has the same goal in mind. In all her children’s successes she is basking in the afterglow. Some of this is natural and healthy. A problem arises when she is living her life through her children in a manner that compromises their freedom and deprives them of their own identity. This creates enmeshment. While appearing to be a proud super mum she is keeping her children tied to her apron strings. She lives in a bubble of illusion and for others to remark how she is ruining them would come as a complete shock.

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