Research in neuroscience affirms the importance of positive social interactions in the development of the brain. Cozolino (2014) posits that the absence of stimulating interactions cause people and neurons to wither and die. Cozolino writes,
“In neurons, this process is called apoptosis; in humans, it is called depression, grief, and suicide.”
Moreover, Cozolino explains that the optimal sculpting of the prefrontal cortex enables us to regulate emotions, think of ourselves, trust others and maintain positive expectations.
Human relationship is a complex concept that encompasses our interactions and connections with many people in our environment that can impact the healthy development of the social organ – the brain. This assertion makes me reflect on the relationships that I have/had – their effect to my present disposition and my effect to them as well.
I see a web of relationships that have molded me to the person that I am and made me extend relationships that molded others, too.
My symbiotic relationship with my mum started when she raised me as an independent child. She always recognized my capabilities that developed my self- esteem to tackle challenges. She allowed me to make mistakes without judging, trusted me with my decisions, and encouraged me when I am reaching my low moments. Those times I faced conflicts and problems, she encouraged me to find the answers on my own – maybe tough love that is. Knowing that she would not be able to shield me from the challenges of the world. Now as an adult, I go back to her and give that love back, maybe not in the exact form that she shared it with me, but in a way that makes her feel that she is important to me. Raising all children, she gave up all material desires so that we can go to school, finish a degree, and have healthy, nutritious meals on the table. Those were her priorities. Now it is my time to give her what she missed on while raising us by giving her presents she would not afford herself, bringing her to places she wished she could see and most of all the gift of time to see her (since I am geographically far away) during important occasions that she would hope to see family. Then, it was my turn to raise a child. It was a challenge being a single mother, but like my mother, I committed all my time, effort and resources to my daughter. She is a young adult now, finishing university in a year’s time and getting ready to tackle the challenges of being completely in charge of herself. Growing up, she learned how to earn by baby-sitting in our community. Every time she got paid, she would always treat me for a nice meal or buy my favorite picture books. We both love reading picture books together. My mother always told me to let my child have the opportunity to give and share as well. So each time she offered to buy a meal, I obliged. My daughter and I are in different countries, but we continue to nurture our relationship. We remember to share our stories, good or bad, to each other first. There were no secrets kept, although sometimes I wished, she would not tell me about her personal matters.
Outside my family relationships, I have friends, and colleagues with whom I have emotional attachments. I moved to Busan, South Korea with my daughter to teach. Although I had qualms, I thought it would be the best move for us. Being in a foreign place where you do not speak nor understand the language, it was a challenge. The school culture then was shaped by singles who seemed to be happy to be in their own clique. I was sad, worried and lonely. We lived in an apartment managed by an old Korean couple. They turned out to become my foster family. They introduced me to the culture and made me understand how things work in their country. A few times I got sick, they took care of me. My daughter and I spent a lot of time with them. We went on road trips, hiked, and even made meals together. I think we filled the absence of their grown-up children who live far away from them as they did fill the absence of my family as well. I grew to care for my foster parents just as how I would care for my parents if they were around me. I would say, my happy and positive moments here in Korea were those times spent with them. They helped me weather the storm and remain stable to nurture my daughter and keep my job.
There were and are many more relationships in my web. Some of them I have kept and continued to nourish, and some are waiting to be tapped again because of distance while some I had to let go because the trust and confidence were gone. Although some have failed, they still have contributed to my deeper understanding of relationships. The relationships that remain in my web therefore, are those that continue to foster positive interactions and meaningful connections. There is a continuous flow of serve and return interaction that encourages you to take care of the relationships. These personal experiences provide a lens on how I establish relationships with children and families at work. When I truly respond to their needs just like how the people in my relationships have responded to me, they trust me to be their guide. Similar to my needs, they also require trust, empathy, affection, honest communication, and understanding in order to bridge relationships and allow me to be a part of their learning.
Cozolino, L. (2014). The Neuroscience of Human Relationships: Attachment and the Developing Social Brain (Norton Series on Interpersonal Neurobiology). WW Norton & Company. Retrieved from https://books.google.co.kr/books?hl=ko&lr=&id=dYUYAwAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=human+relationships&ots=kjOraXxZoQ&sig=dgAWVtyeKxUZ2tJmIGaHf_h7qXk&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=human%20relationships&f=false