How is the birth of a son different from the birth of a daughter? How does the boy’s mother feel? What is the relationship formed between mother and son and how is it different from the relationship between mother and daughter?
The mother bathes her son, feeds him, swaddles him, does everything just like the girl’s mother. Then she buys toys and reads books. The books are the same for now, but the toys are already different. The daughter’s mother sees her daughter as an extension of herself. She shows her daughter how to cook, iron, and clean; she sees her as her assistant. And what does the son’s mother see in her child? Or rather, who does she see? Does she project her relationship with her father or her husband onto him?
If the daughter’s mother often does what her mother did to her, then the son’s mother must be doing something different. Because he’s a boy. He’s different. What does a boy need from his mother so that he doesn’t hate her or fear her or ignore her or depend on her later? The same as all children: love, care, affection. But boys also need something else. Or some other kind of love?
Episodes from my psychological practice:
- A man, 52 years old, a geodesist, works on a rotational basis. He calls his mother and can only talk to her when he is drunk;
- A colleague, a psychologist in his 30s, cannot forgive his mother for a slap in the face in his childhood. He is still resentful and angry at her;
- He is a strong, forty-year-old man, about six feet tall. Formulates his problem as: “I’m afraid of my mother”;
- A young man in whom hatred for his mother reaches the point of wanting to “kill her and have all the walls covered in her blood”. For what? For not loving her, or somehow loving her wrong;
- The businessman, 55 years old, experiences almost any rebuke from his mother to the point of a heart attack, resents it like a five-year-old boy. One supports his entire large family while asking his mother’s permission to buy a new couch for his room.
All of these men had “normal” families, normal moms. They worked, fed them, clothed them, educated them, treated them for illnesses, and helped them with their homework. In short, they took care of them as best they could. What were these moms doing wrong?
What do all these men have in common? What are the patterns here?
The pattern here is that all of these men have authoritarian, overbearing mothers. I even heard a phrase somewhere: “Strong men grow up with weak women!”.
Understandably, children are not completely happy with their mothers. At first they love them wholeheartedly and unconditionally, but then, as they grow up, they begin to notice their “imperfections” and “limitations”. And that’s like being knocked down from a pedestal. And sons can’t forgive their mothers for their… humanity.
And apparently, it’s a more traumatic story for boys than it is for girls. A girl is more likely to start competing with her mother, and a boy needs an ideal. And he doesn’t have one anymore. And that causes anger and resentment. And if he doesn’t have an ideal, then let no one else have one!!! To kill, to destroy is a furious, violent feeling, wanting at least honestly. Another thing is resentment (or worse: unspoken, unfeeling anger).
34-year-old son and mom
Not long ago, a 34-year-old “mama’s boy” came to me for psychological help. A round-faced guy was sitting in front of me. He was looking at the table with an embarrassed expression. It took me a couple of seconds to realize: lives with his mom, no girlfriend, no money, confused himself. I had seen dozens of guys like him.
I asked him what was bothering him. And he began to tell me:
Well, I don’t know. I have a lot of problems. I don’t have a girlfriend. I don’t have many friends. I don’t get paid enough at work. I don’t know how to ask for a raise. I can’t make myself work. And in general I am bored with life.
He looked about 20 years old, but his passport said 34. I asked him directly if he lived with his mother. An affirmative nod. He didn’t understand.
He gave the money to her. His mother managed the family budget, paid the rent, bought his son clothes, did the laundry, cooked. Miguel didn’t know how to do any of this. And the woman was lonely, no one but her son. So they closed in on each other.
Here’s what he said about his mother:
“Actually, she’s my best friend. And it’s more convenient this way, I don’t have to pay rent, I don’t have that much money”.
As it turned out Miguel was a virgin, at 34! He had no luck with girls, he tried dating sites, like Tinder, but was too shy to communicate there. And who is interested in a 34-year-old man living with his mother?
Even Miguel’s hobbies were harmless: he glued airplane figures, ships, and subscribed to modeling magazines. The perfect obedient and kind son. Wasn’t he?
In his mother’s eyes, is yes. But in the eyes of society and other women it was a complete failure!
When I explained to him that his problems would begin to be solved as soon as he began to live alone, Miguel cheered up a bit. I continued:
– Now instead of a girlfriend you have your mother. But have you thought about starting a family?
– Yeah, I thought about it.
– But not every woman would agree to live with a “mama’s boy”. You know that, right?
– Yeah, I understand that.
– Would you be willing to move out of your mother’s house? Become your own man, pay rent, utilities?
– I don’t know.
– You realize you’re not living on your own, you’re living on your mom’s? That’s why you don’t need the money.
– You need to break that cycle. You need to move out of your mom’s house and live alone. When you live alone, you’ll learn a lot: count money, negotiate with people, talk to your neighbors etc. You’ll get a new motivation. You will work harder and earn more. And immediately you will become interesting to girls.
Miguel started to nod vigorously (because he obviously liked the idea of girls). But then fear appeared on his face:
- How would his mother react to the departure of her beloved son?
- Where would he go?
- What if something happens to him?
Surprisingly, his mother said she was ready to let her son go. She said it was high time. She wrote a list of things my son needed to learn to do on his own (laundry, cooking, what doctors to go to, how to manage a budget).
We agreed to meet again and discuss the move plan. Miguel paid for the class up front. But he didn’t come. Then he stopped answering my messages.
That was three years ago. Something tells me that mother and son are still together.
Why is this happening?
There is a very good saying:
“At least two people play any game”.
So it is here. The relationship between mother and son is co-dependent, formed in childhood, and maintained by both parties. Yes, it was the mother who created this relationship for various reasons and circumstances in her life. But she is not the one we are talking about now.
What about the son? Already as a grown man, it is he who is responsible for his dependence, indecision, and irresponsibility. It is much easier to refer to his unsettlement, blaming his mother for not allowing it, another woman for not understanding and caring as a mother, and fate for not working out the way he does, than to realize that everything in his life is his own doing.
And since he was able to create this situation, it is within his power to create any other. But it is not so easy. Rather, it is difficult. It takes courage. A lot of courage! To “cut the umbilical cord” that binds him and his mother with his own hands is, in reality, almost impossible. But it is still possible!
It’s possible to see his mom as just a woman who, a priori, should respect him and trust him, but not lead him. Who is no longer the strong and bossy, but weak and defenseless. Who now needs his strength and responsibility, not obedience and submission.
And there is no courage. You can’t buy it in a store. It is nurtured, cultivated slowly and surely in a family where the father is the head of the family, raises his son, makes decisions in the family, and treats his wife with respect but firmness.
As a rule, in our examples, the father is either not there at all, or he is “all at work.” Tired, he would come home to rest, completely shifting the burden of family problems onto the woman’s shoulders, and letting her, at her discretion, build the domestic relationship. She did build it. As best she could. What she could.
Now courage has to be nurtured in yourself. Sometimes “tearing at the living”. With blood and tears. But there is no other way. The alternative is to remain a “mother’s son”, giving up your own life, never having tasted or experienced inner freedom and independence.
9 Maternal mistakes that destroy sons’ lives
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for a mother to broadcast the “all men are assholes” message to this world in every way she can.
Will a boy want to identify with men? And that’s exactly what he has to approach by his puberty. Such generalizations lead to nothing good. First, assholes are not everyone. Second, the son will sooner or later move from the category of boys to the category of men. And if you plant in his head the idea that men are necessarily dishonest, selfish, winded, he will either really become one, or he will prefer to remain a kind of kid without sex or age.
2. Disrespect for a spouse, a father, a brother
It happens that the woman in the family plays a leading role: pulling the blanket over herself in solving not only domestic but issues of the family as a whole. Some people enjoy this, and even a man can be satisfied with it.
It’s different when, instead of openly admitting that it suits everyone, a woman uses this role as an argument to manipulate, humiliate and devalue the man. For example: “You’re a wimp, you can’t solve anything in this life, you have to do everything yourself, you’re not capable of anything”.
Now let’s imagine a man who grew up in such a family. What kind of character traits would he have if he watched the family treat men on a daily basis?
Even if you are a natural born leader, the owner of a strong temperament and “that more” nature, you yourself have chosen this man as your life partner. Respect is the key not only full parenting, but also a happy family life.
3. Denial of the child’s father
The world is dichotomous. There is a feminine and a masculine in each of us. This is the X and Y chromosome, the Yin and Yang, the Anima and the Animus. It is this integrity that allows us to be a harmonious individual, appropriating the valuable masculine and feminine qualities.
The birth of a child is the participation of two, whatever the other is, he or she has a direct hand in the event. Believing in an immaculate conception is unlikely to add to any man’s happiness in adulthood. Be respectful of the story of your son’s emergence. Just because things didn’t work out between you doesn’t mean there never was a father.
Another big mistake is to endow a boy’s father with all the negative traits. It’s a familiar phrase: “You certainly take after your father with this one!”. And, of course, it’s not about the best traits of a child’s character. I must say that studies show that the environment has a greater influence on the formation of the child as a person than genetics. And if the mother is actively involved in raising her son, then the likelihood of copying her traits and habits is many times greater.
4. Overprotective parenting
This mistake in mothers’ upbringing of their sons has already been a pain in the ass for psychologists. However, many mothers still cannot cope with their own anxiety and continue to overprotect their sons.
Dress them warmer than they should, to protect them from any, even a little dangerous activity, not allowing a child to experiment, explore the limits of their abilities, to gain experience. Such boys grow up as in that joke: “Mom, am I cold or hungry now?”. Lack of opportunity to lean on himself, his wants and can lead to passivity, loss of exploratory interest and complete dependence on his mother’s opinion.
5. Total control
The consequences of total control over your son are the same as those of overprotection. But here a distrust of oneself and of the world is added.
The boy does not develop his own initiative and internal control as they are safely replaced by the mother with her external control. Infantilism and the inability to take responsibility for oneself. The list of consequences could go on.
It is important to understand that his confidence in your son, you create the ground for his confidence, independence and responsibility. Hearing the words: “Son, I trust you completely! I’m sure you can do it!”, the child is more likely to take responsibility for himself through the mechanism of attachment. And with greater zeal he will strive to justify that trust.
6. Denial of negative emotions
First and foremost is the phrase “Men don’t cry.” Even the most progressive parents still do not realize how destructive this approach to parenting is.
In fact, with this kind of attitude from childhood, a grown man is guaranteed a reason to see a therapist. We are willing to encourage different emotional displays in girls when they are sad, but we try to teach our sons to get rid of feelings other than happiness and anger. Regardless of gender, children have the same deep emotional feelings, and no one is better off with your son holding back resentment and tears indefinitely.
Instead, instill emotional intelligence. Explain that all emotions are normal, they are inherent in every person, and you need to be able to recognize and name them. Teach your boys different words for feelings and emotions: sadness, frustration, shame, pride, fear, embarrassment, love and so on. Practice using these words for characters in books and movies and use them to describe your feelings.
7. Fear devaluation
Some parents find it hard to accept, boys are afraid, too. Instead of telling your son bluntly: “Nothing to be afraid of!” and close the subject, ask him to tell you more about what makes him nervous. Spell it out and explain that brave people are not the ones who are never afraid – they are the ones who, despite their fear, go forward to victory.
8. To think that a child would never hurt anyone
Boys are often mischievous, they can get into fights at school or kindergarten, and the parents, who are called to the principal’s office, usually have to answer.
And then the funniest thing begins, because loving mothers are ready to tear up everyone around them, just to prove that their son never touched anyone and behaved impeccably. We’re all used to thinking the best of our children. But we need to teach empathy to our boys and girls so that they learn from an early age to think about how their actions cause others to feel and to discuss the consequences.
9. Physical punishments
There is always an alternative to a slap. If a child really deserves to be punished for bad behavior or mischief, he or she can be deprived of the TV or temporarily take away the cell phone (depending on the age).
With toddlers, you have to act differently. What is the point of shouting at the child, to force him to do what he does not want to do by shouting and scolding. It is much easier and more correct to caress, hug and gently ask. Better yet, do something together. After all, most often children act up from boredom, they just don’t get enough parental attention and love.