Go Cry to Mom: It Calms You Down


Unknown-4When it comes to internal pain, I have not evolved a whole lot from when I was in fourth grade: I still go running to mom with my tears. Even as I know something in our conversation could very well trigger more anxiety or I question the advice she dolls out, I am still comforted by her voice. There is no real logic. It’s somewhat instinctual.

Science confirms the maternal calming effect. In 2010 a study by anthropologist Leslie Seltzer of the University of Wisconsin found that both a phone conversation with mom and face-to-face conversations triggered a drop in cortisol and a rise in oxytocin in young girls.

Based on that study Seltzer conducted another experiment a year later where she recruited 64 girls between the ages of 7 and 12 to solve difficult math problems in front of three adults who observed them impassively. After completion, the girls were assigned to one of four groups: one that didn’t talk to their moms at all; one that talked to their moms on the phone; one that talked to their moms in person; and one that communicated with their mom via instant message.

Just as in the first study, the girls who talked to their moms on the phone or in person were consoled as evidenced by a change in hormone levels. However, there was little change in hormonal levels for the girls who used IM as a means to communicate.

Seltzer believes, then, that it’s mom’s voice that does the soothing more than her message. So even if we don’t like what she says, we still benefit from hearing the tones and intonations that identify her as the one and only person who has comforting power.

Image: Mommyish.com

Originally published on Sanity Break at Everyday Health.

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Therese Borchard
I am a writer and chaplain trying to live a simple life in Annapolis, Maryland.

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3 Responses
  1. Jessica

    Thank you for your ongoing posting. I am not a therapist or psychologist but I am a mother & proud of being one. . I truly believe a child & mother relationship is far more connected than we know. The modern world tries to divide us thats why we are seeing more a estrangement than ever before between mother & children. I don’t think this is healthy for the child as it is for the mother or the Grandkids. My daughter has estranged us. I love & miss her more than any thing in world. I truly, truly feel she is hurting as much as I am. I would do any thing to gain her love back . She feels rejected & not love her. The is so far from the truth. I love my daughter & though she has estranged us I am still connected & hurt every moment of my day. I feel if therapist & psychologist put as much energy connecting than dividing we would be much happier. No, I am not a toxic parent any more than my child is. Toxic is a word that has been freely abused so carelessly.

  2. Dear Alli,

    I thought of you and Laura when I read this article. I hope I give Laura some measure of calm and consoling when she talks to me. I know your talking to your mom is the same for you. She and Grandma Shirley definitely have your back. Love to you and I wish you a Happy Mother’s Day. I also know that you give Coco and Miri the same kind of calm and consoling that the article talks about. Love, Alice

  3. This is really true. I always feel so much better when I have a good cry with my Mum. We lost my eldest sister last month and today we cried together which I am so grateful to be able to do. Thanks for sharing this. Deborah