Mama’s Boys and Their Mamas

He is 45 year old man who moved back home with his parents five years ago because his attempts to financially support himself failed, once again.  He is incredibly handsome, is kind, generous, and good-hearted. He even earned his doctorate but just can’t seem to get a business off the ground.

He is unable to disconnect from his mother and she is unable to disconnect from him.

His mother’s way of loving him was by making him totally self-reliant on her, even though she encourages him to act independently.  Her efforts are underscored with emotional messages that tell him not to go too far away from her.

His parents have been married for over 50 years.  His mother is a strong personality and his father, passive.

She pays his bills, issues checks to him, looks at his credit card statements, makes decisions for him, and offers unsolicited advice to him.

He met a wonderful woman several years ago, fell in love and became engaged. All too soon his fiance’ realized that not only did he lack the drive to be a provider but also, that his mother was heavily involved with him on a daily basis.  She also realized that he was doing nothing to change that dynamic.

She broke off the engagement and,to this day, despite her numerous explanations,  he does not understand why.

He had some learning challenges as a young boy and stutters at times.

He finds himself struggling internally with his desire to grow and be his own man, but doesn’t realize that he has not been able to get out from under the neurotic needs of his mother; needs that have become his own.

Unfortunately, he will not allow himself to see the dysfunction in his relationship with his mother.  He has been immobilized by his mother’s need to be needed. 

New Jersey is home to the show called Mama’s Boys. The Italian culture displayed in this show, has traditions that web their mother’s and son’s until the son gets married.

Only, in this show, it seems that the mother’s are trapped by the demands of their son’s and do nothing to shoo them out on their own.  It is somehow made acceptable to foster this kind of dependency between a mother and her son(s).

I must say,  that neither type of  these examples of mother/son dependency is healthy, but the value of the mother in a son’s life is immeasurable.

Here are a few reasons why.

A son learns what to expect from a woman, through his mother’s example.

A son learns how to treat a woman, through his mother’s example.

A son learns whether or not a woman deserves respect, through his mother’s example.

A son learns whether or not he can trust a woman, through his mother’s example.

A son learns how to love a woman, through his mother’s example.

A son learns how to be a good father, through his mother’s example.

When mother’s violate healthy boundaries of the mother-son relationship, the disservice that slowly evolves for their sons can be devastating.   And, in the case mentioned initially, immobilizing.

It’s important to teach your child responsiblity, but not at the expense of them missing out on their childhood.

It’s important to nurture closeness and sharing between mother’s and son’s, but not if that behavior exploits the child to meet a mother’s need for love and affection.  (Especially, if there is an absent or passive father in the mix.)

It is important to encourage your children to look to you for guidance and direction, but not at the expense of their own growth towards independence and maturity.

It is important for mothers, who rely on their young sons to meet their adult needs for companionship, significance, and love, to find it in other adults and let their children be children.

Every child needs to learn how to love, connect, trust, and find safety in the relationships that they have with their parents.

And every child deserves a shot at growing into the man or woman that they are intended to become.

If you, as a mother, believe that you need to cultivate your son to be the protegé’ of what you lack in your current relationship or in your adult life, please think again.

You can not expect your son to be a man if you have raised him to be a boy.

Release him.

Let him go.

Raise him to be a man who can prosper.

A son always needs his mother and he will always love you.

Give him wings and insist, early on, that he believe in his ability to do anything, be anything, and have anything, while he walks humbly through life.

Your son needs to learn from your strengths, so teach him how to be a strong, caring, and compassionate man, so he can pass on THAT legacy to his children.

In love and light,
Janis
www.cohenfamilycounseling.com

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