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Thank you, Mom! How a mother's love makes all the difference

Thank you, Mom! How a mother's love makes all the difference

Two Panthers share how their moms help them soar, and a psychology expert discusses the bond between a mother and her child

May 10, 2024 at 2:25pm

Moms make it all happen. Whether they're reminding us to stay well-fed or giving us advice or just wrapping us in a big hug, moms are always looking out for their kids. 

And that mother's love, which a child can feel even at an early age, helps set us up for success in a number of areas in our lives. 

"There is a wealth of research that shows, for example, that positive interactions between mothers and their very young children have impacts on children’s outcomes, such as their behavior and language," says Daniel Bagner, professor of psychology and a faculty member at FIU's Center for Children and Families. "It also impacts their ability to regulate their behavior when they are distressed. These behaviors early in a child’s life have been shown to predict long-term outcomes, such as their confidence and their ability to interact positively with their peers. There is a cascade of positive effects that start early in the life of a child."

You may have heard of the importance of bonding moments between parents and babies -- moments in which parents kiss, hug, bathe, play, read or interact with their babies. These moments cement themselves in a baby's mind and provide them with a foundation from which to grow. 

Bagner is the principal investigator for a National Institute of Health-funded study examining a program to help prevent babies from developing more challenging behavioral issues as toddlers. He says, "When parents or caregivers are attentive and responsive to the needs of their children early in life, that can make a really big difference." 

To properly thank all our moms for everything they do for us and for helping us become better people every day, FIU News spoke to two Panthers who say they owe all of their success to their moms. 

Panther Mom Spotlight: Lourdes Armas Suarez

Helia Baez (right) with her mom, Lourdes Armas Suarez as they pose during Baez's graduation last week. Baez gave her mom her cap and first-generation stole in honor of her role in helping Baez earn them. 

Helia Baez takes after her mother.

It’s not just her facial features or her curly hair. It’s her interior strength — the hard work and determination to succeed.

Baez’s mom, Lourdes Armas Suarez, is a Cuban immigrant who rebuilt her life in Miami. She works as a teacher at a local school and is what her daughter calls “a strong woman, such a girl boss. She gives everything for us.”

“My mom has been my rock my entire life,” Baez says. “She’s my role model. I’ve always seen her working super hard and she’s always managed to make time for us. She’s also super kind. I want to be like her when I grow up.”

When Baez was 13 years old, she was diagnosed with intracranial germinoma, a rare type of brain tumor. She went through a year of treatment before beating cancer. Her mom was with her every step of the way.   

“She stood by me,” Baez recalls. “When I lost my hair because of chemo, she shaved her head for me. She promised that as long as I couldn’t grow my hair, she would stay bald with me. I know I’ve always had her by my side. Thanks to her, I’ve never felt alone. She’s always standing in my corner.”

Like her mom, Baez distinguishes herself for her resolve and can-do attitude. During high school, Baez earned her AA thanks to dual enrollment and was recognized as a Hispanic Scholar by the College Board. At FIU, she was involved with the International Honors Society in Psychology as well as Roarthon and Relay for Life, both of which are large, student-organized events dedicated to raising funds to end cancer and to support children with critical illnesses, respectively.

Years ago, Helia Baez's mom, Lourdes Armas Suarez (left) decided to shave her head in solidarity with her daughter as Baez underwent chemotherapy.

Baez also worked as a research assistant at the Child Anxiety and Phobias Clinic at FIU, where among her duties, she served as the first point of contact with parents who came to the lab. She collected data necessary for the child’s psychological diagnosis. Baez was also a McNair Scholar at FIU, participating in the program’s courses, seminars and workshops related to grad school preparation and undergraduate research.

Last week, Baez became the first person in her family to graduate from college in the U.S. when she walked across the commencement stage at FIU, claiming her bachelor’s in psychology.  

“My mom is super proud of me,” she says. “My [parents] cried at commencement.”

To show her appreciation for her mom and dad, Baez decorated her graduation cap in their honor. In curving font, this important message written in Spanish spreads across the floral-covered cap: “When you see me fly, remember it was you that gave me my wings. To my parents, who came with nothing and gave me everything. This diploma is also yours.”


Helia Baez's graduation cap honors her mom and dad.

Panther Mom Spotlight: Terry Cure

Benjamin and his mom, Terry Cure, attended Super Bowl LIV and got to pose with the coveted trophy.


Benjamin Cure’s mom is his inspiration.

It’s thanks to Terry Cure's support that Benjamin, a broadcast journalism major, was able to pursue his passion at an early age.

At 12 years old, Benjamin landed an interview with baseball star Alex “A-Rod” Rodriguez. He later appeared in a 2019 Fox Sports commercial for the Miami Marlins. And at 16, he became the youngest reporter ever hired in Major League Soccer history when he landed a job as the digital host for Inter Miami CF.

Most recently, he appeared as a broadcaster for ESPN+ narrating two FIU baseball games. He hosts his own sports show on YouTube and this summer he began working with his FIU peers as an anchor for Newsbreak, the Lee Caplin School of Journalism & Media’s student-produced broadcast news service.

“I would not be where I am today without my mom,” Benjamin says. “I was a big sports fan growing up. We were Marlins' season ticket holders. We would sit right by where the announcers were. Mom was very supportive when I told her I really liked this avenue.”

From left to right: Benjamin Cure and Terry Cure moments before Benjamin went live as a Kidcaster for the Miami Heat’s broadcast years ago; the duo making memories at a Miami Marlins game.


Terry is a single mother and a communications professional who poured herself into helping her son achieve his dreams. From baseball to basketball to college football, mother and son attended as many games in as many sports as possible. And while his mom enjoys sports as much as anyone, Benjamin knows she was really going to the games for him.

"She prioritized me," Benjamin says. "I had the hot dog-and-ballpark experience and buying the hat... She always made sure I felt enthralled and enjoyed the experience. Going to a game without her now, it almost feels weird. It’s still fun, but it’s not the same dynamic. It’s so unique when we go to games together. Last year I went to the Marlins opening game with her, and it felt great to have my mom there with me.”

Since both mom and son are in the communications field, the professional aspect adds another layer to their relationship: Benjamin's mom is also his mentor. Currently the executive vice president of a communications and public relations firm, Terry acted as a sounding board for Benjamin when he was a middle schooler trying to craft questions to interview athletes. “To this day, I ask her opinion when I’m doing my shows," Benjamin says. "Every time I take her advice, things go well. She knows what she’s talking about.”

“My mom is definitely my biggest blessing," he adds, "my best friend, my closest confidante, my biggest critic and my biggest fan. She is the best for sure.”