Where is the fine line between raising and nurturing a son to become a healthy young man or a “mama’s boy?”
For generations mothers have gotten mixed messages about raising a son properly. A mother can be confused about being too close to her son and raising a “mama’s boy,” which society sees as dependent, wimpy and not healthy. A mother can struggle or be put down by other mothers and society for not raising a “young, strong man,” who is capable of being independent, tough, masculine and can separate from his mother.
The most important parenting ingredient is raising a young boy who is able to have a “secure attachment” to his mother, not an “insecure attachment.” Baby boys who are not loved or nurtured properly and do not have basic trust or a close bond may have an insecure attachment to their mothers. Studies reveal that their sons may have emotional or behavioral problems later on in life. These young boys may demonstrate acts of aggression, be more hostile and destructive. These boys may be heading towards a life of being at risk or delinquent.
Boys who were given unconditional love, trust, attention and proper nurturing from their mothers, according to the research, performed better in school, were more communicative, articulate, and expressed their own feelings, showed more empathy and had healthier relationships throughout their lives. These securely attached young males were also able to show better self control at home and in school, and did not seem to exhibit behavioral or emotional problems.
According to a study by the American Psychological Association, a close mother-son relationship, is “good” for a boy’s mental health. These boys tend not to buy into hyper-masculine stereotypes. They state, that being a “man” or proving your “manhood” does not include acting tough, or fighting whenever they’re challenged. These boys stated that they remain “emotionally open,” and appear to have less anxiety and depression. Their long-term relationships with friends and family appear to be healthy versus unhealthy.
Teenage boys who are able to have good communication and a close bond with their mothers have better self esteem and are not as susceptible to peer pressure. Often times they will be secure enough to discuss various topics ongoing with their mothers such as, sex, drugs, alcohol, relationships, family issues, sports, etc.
Mothers who are close to their sons throughout their development are also helping them to become successful later in their life in terms of work and relationships. They teach their sons “emotional intelligence” and how to share feelings and communicate appropriately with others since early childhood. An example of this would be a boy toddler who screams or grunts during temper tantrums is taught by his mother how to use words or “show” her what he wants instead. By doing this type of parenting, a young boy learns to communicate more effectively throughout his development.
The son who is able to have a healthy relationship and bond with his mother can usually relate to other girls or women by becoming a good a listener, articulate their emotions, and treat a young woman with respect and kindness. If a young boy was taught to be more “macho,” and tough he may not have learned from early childhood how to relate in a healthy way to a female in a relationship. He may act possessive and controlling and objectify her instead of sharing ideas and values and decisions together.
Mothers who have had a close bond and secure attachment to their sons usually teach their sons how to relate better in the workplace and become a team player to get along with others. Young men will usually benefit from healthy relationships with their mothers by having close relationships with their girlfriends and become better marriage partners.
Read Linda’s articles about Mother-Daughter relationships here!