Much has already been covered in passing, about the different physical and psychological elements of relationship a child develops in his first few years, so in summary, these need only to be collated into sharper focus. A child enters this world knowing no-one other than the surround-ing body (and empathy) of his mother. From that point onwards, each new face, new voice, new handling, new body smell, identifies a new person to whom he must relate in a unique way. It is not surprising that our brain remembers so powerfully and so unconsciously our first impressions of people. I believe this to be part of our biological programming to aid our survival - a way of instinctively drawing (or repelling) us towards (or away from) the people and places we need to evolve.
Since a baby's first impressions are so sensi-tive and all-affecting, and since they are unable to consciously choose their own relationships, it is therefore a mother's role (and right) to guide the way in which her baby develops his early relationships. Although it may seem a heretical viewpoint, this principle extends right from the closest of family through to the most casual of acquaintances - from the birthing attendants she wishes the baby to born with, through to the children she wishes them to play with outside of school hours.
The old adage - "You can always chose your friends, but you can't choose your relatives", expresses the unspeakable feelings many people harbour, that as children we are often forced into relationships with people (family members) to whom we would never personally be drawn. Such is the right of attachment many people believe they have to the offspring of their extended family. Although blood may well be thicker than water, my perspective in all the following sections rests upon the conviction that a mother should only introduce her child to those people (relatives or otherwise) she enjoys and loves herself, and those she believes will be purely beneficial to the child's upbringing.
As adults, if we look back on the relationships we have formed over the years, we can see in retrospect how we might have handled them differently. We can also see how we wish our parents had handled our early relationships differently. Now - be honest - project these realisations upon yourself and how you might save your own children the same discontent.
Parenthood is a fantastic chance for turning over a new leaf, for breaking the generational moulds, for creating a new world order - albeit within your own house! But it all starts with you, with your awareness of the power and effects of your personal relationships. In their early life, a child's relationships only become an extension of the relationship they have with their parents, as well as a replica of their parents' own relation-ships inside and outside the family. If your life exemplifies a model of peace and harmony, such will grow the child. If it echoes with the conflicts of personal and familial feuds, so will develop the lives of your children. Therefore, the best way forward is to be wise and selective in the quality of relationships you allow them to develop.
Differences in attitudes to parenting between the mother and the father, or the grandparents, or the in-laws, are often a major cause of relationship friction in families. Such conflicts in modes of childrearing can begin from the moment of the child's birth, and even before. As she approaches conception, and even before, a woman should explore her own ideas on childrearing and should discuss with her partner his ideas on the many issues which parenting will arouse. Such reflections and discussions will help you both to be clearer about many issues in advance and help save lots of arguments later!
As she travels through pregnancy, the mother-to-be should be clearly refining her preferences for the birth and the early childhood options of parenting. Along the way she should openly discuss these things with her parents and in-laws. If there appears to be a divide develop-ing, she will know in advance where future conflicts might arise and can better manage them by staying away or exercising her rights of motherhood over the outsiders. This is not to mean that the wise counsel of her elders should never be considered or accepted. But philosophi-cally, idealistically, every parent has the right to try to improve upon the ways of parenting they have experienced and observed in their life. And, after all, times change, cultures merge and lifestyle priorities shift like the desert sands.
In her heart, I believe every mother has an ideal she holds dear about the way in which she would like to bring up her children. When searching for a parenting partner, I think this should be one of the primary areas of discussion they should hold over their first candle-lit dinner. If