Keep Your Sons Close And Make Them Stronger
Don't be a "mama's boy"
Mama’s boy. This little phrase carries centuries of negative baggage. From Oedipus to Freud, the connotations are clear. Boys who are close to their moms are wimpy, effeminate, emotionally stunted, maladjusted individuals who will never grow up. These ideas are embedded so deeply in our culture that we see the evidence everywhere -- movies, literature, television and even pop psychology all testify to the veracity of this age-old mythology. But is it really true?
Debunking outdated cultural stereotypes
Not according to Kate Stone Lombardi, who researched the bonds between moms and sons and found that the opposite is actually the case. Boys who have close, loving and supportive relationships with their moms are not damaged, but rather are benefitting from this experience. In fact, studies show innumerable benefits for boys who are close to their moms at every age and stage of development.
Strong attachment equals strong kids
As is the case with all parenting techniques that foster strong attachment, boys who enjoy close bonds to their moms feel cherished, loved and secure and benefit from exploring independence at their own speed. They do better in school, demonstrate less behavioral problems, are physically healthier, have better communications skills, are less susceptible to peer pressure and engage in less risky behaviors.
As they grow older, they are more successful at the workplace, suffer less depression and anxiety, and are more likely to grow up to be happy emotionally intelligent men who enjoy strong relationships with their spouses, friends and families.
Kate Stone Lombardi's close relationship with her own son
Lombardi became interested in this topic thanks to her own close relationships with her children. She enjoyed equally close bonds with her son and daughter, but because of the societal stereotypes felt a little uncomfortable being completely open about her closeness with her son. All this changed when she discovered that she wasn’t the only mom that felt this way.
During her research, she realized that moms everywhere want to have intimate relationships with their sons, but feel conflicted about them because of cultural assumptions. Lombardi quotes a 57-year-old mom and actress she interviewed for the book, “’You can’t really talk about how you truly feel about your son, or people will think its sexual,’ said Michelle, whose son is now twenty-seven. ‘When I can get that hug, that feeling of having that boy close to me, it doesn’t get any better than that. There’s no sexual tension. I don’t know how we got this distorted view. I think Freud screwed it up for all of us.’”
Saying goodbye to the mama's boy myth
Fortunately, things are changing. As we move forward into the 21st century, we are at a cultural crossroads. Many of the myths and stereotypes of the past are falling away and opening our minds to new ways of thinking and understanding.
Lombardi writes, “Many mothers have already changed direction and are heading down a new path. Now it is time for them to have some company on the journey… Instead of having to defend their actions and combat the old ‘mama’s boy’ stereotypes, mothers should be encouraged to keep their sons close. Why do mothers deserve this support? Because we now know that a strong mother-son bond is good for boys’ emotional health. Because we now know that it better prepares boys for the world they live in. And because we’ve always known that one thing will never change – mothers want the very best for their sons.”