Monday, October 20, 2014

Importance of Eye to Eye Contact

"I am a happy driver."  "I will look often into the eyes of the baby." These are the resolves the unmarried mothers are shouting out in the school for mothers conducted by the diocese. The priest president of the New Life Center in a diocese begins his article in Window from the Ark of the Catholic Times, with the above short phrases and explains the importance of gazing into the eyes of the newly born babies.

He began reading some of the books he had in his library. One of the books was written by Christine de Marcellus de Vollmer who came to Korea in 2011 to receive an award from the Seoul Diocese Committee on Life.

Science, he says, has shown us a new understanding of the importance of the brain especially in the first 6 years of life. The cerebral cortex grows according to the stimulation and not automatically during the first 6 years of life. We tend to give credit for a person's talent and temperament to the family history, but even the cortico-limbic lobes develops with stimulation given to the baby during the first years of life. Simply expressed, the brain develops by the concern the baby receives: the self-consciousness, feelings, discipline, peace and happiness are all related to the love and caresses the baby receives from the mother.

The priest introduces us also to Dr. Allan Schore whose ideas on the brain and emotional life of a child  are epoch making. The time the mother spends gazing at her child are important for emotional growth. It is a mutual gazing. When the mother  gazes into the eyes of a baby she is transferring her energy to the baby which in turn stimulates the brain of the baby. This transaction between the mother and child brings about a neural biochemical reaction that releases endorphin and similar matter which helps to develop the brain but also makes for a happy mood in the child resulting in a smile.This reaction will allow the mother to know how to react and give the baby a chance to return to a more quiet state. The baby will be asking for more stimulation with growth which the mother can respond to.

In Korean society today both parents in many cases are working and have to put their children in nurseries and day care centers. The priest is not against the woman's  desire for self realization by entering society, but hopes that they will find quality time to spend with the babies.

Not only the mother but all the family members should be conscious of this reality. He recalls seeing a family in a restaurant where everybody was busy with their smart phones and nobody was talking. We have to put people first in our culture and see the importance of the eye to eye contact between husband and wife, parents and children. 

When Pope Francis came to Korea his words were important, but his eye to eye contact, his clasping of hands and embracing of many had much meaning.  The pope's dream to see a culture were persons are at the center should also be our dream and we can begin  to work for this realization by our eye to eye contact with those whom we meet, especially those who are having difficulties in life.

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