As women, we tend to fawn over men who have a good relationship with their moms. Maybe rightly so. It probably goes back to the adage “look at how they treat the parent of the opposite sex – that’s how they will treat you.” I don’t necessarily think that’s always the case; though, maybe more often than not.
There’s nothing wrong with observing how a man treats his mom and assuming you may receive similar treatment.
As quickly as we note how respectful he is of her though, we should also take note of how dependent he is on her.
Because there is something wrong with a grown man, who is a mama’s boy.
Let me jog your memory.
Think of your friends…
…the friends with overbearing mother-in-laws. The stories of the mom and son acting like the couple and the wife, in the backseat of decision making. Where the son is too dependent on his mother for emotional connection and not enough on his wife. Think of how common it is to hear of a MIL medaling in the marriage, giving unsolicited advice – expressing negative opinions of her daughter-in-law. Where the MIL is blatantly or discretely disrespectful to the wife and doesn’t honor her as the co-lead of her own family.
I hear these stories more often than not.
It happens. all. the. time.
Seeing how common this is, we can’t just assume ‘they’ were bad moms and we will [obviously] do better.
No mom in the world holds her sweet baby boy and thinks “I hope my son grows up to be a pathetic excuse of a man and relies on me hand and foot.”, “I hope my son and his wife have a horrible marriage and a bulk of their issues are my fault.”, “I hope I raise a coward who is easily offended, unreliable and arrogant.”, “I hope my future daughter-in-law hates me and as a result, my relationship with my grandkids is strained.”
None of us think those thoughts. But if we aren’t careful in how we are raising our boys, that will be the reality for many of us.
Remember all of your friends you thought of above? How many of them (if not the majority), either have husbands who have toxic relationships with their moms or who have passive husbands who don’t protect them from their moms?
We need to ask ourselves why.
It starts with recognizing any of us can be ‘that mom’ who raises ‘that son’. All it takes is our God-given strength of nurturing to be twisted just a smidge too far until it becomes codependence. It’s usually so discrete, we don’t even recognize it. We observe ourselves as “being a good parent” and “supporting our children” – blinded to the fact our efforts to support them are actually crippling them.
We need to learn how to change the tide. How to improve and do better.
The future of healthy men who can lead their families well, starts with how we raise our precious, little boys, right now.
With that awareness in mind, here is a list of 8 reasons why we don’t want to raise our sons to be mama’s boys:
1.) One day, he needs to leave the nest.
If he’s too dependent on mom, that will be excruciatingly hard for him at best. Not to mention, we want our sons to be successful on their own! Not just barely getting by, needing to call and ask for advice every two seconds.
2.) His confidence is infinitely more important than our desire to be needed. (Or at least, it should be!)
We want our sons to be confident men who take on life’s challenges with strength and courage. How we are raising them now will greatly impact their confidence later. Yes – love, guide, support, encourage, and protect them. But we also must have the tact to know when to move out of their way. We can’t and shouldn’t rescue them every time they fall. We need to allow them to learn hard life lessons through the wisdom of other men, learning on their own, and even by… failing *gasps*. It may feel good to swoop in and save them every time they need us; but ultimately, when we make that a habit, we are squelching their masculinity and robbing them of opportunities to build confidence.
3.) We want our sons to attract healthy women!
Have you noticed the trend? How passive men tend to attract overbearing women? How passive our sons are, largely comes back to how their identity was shaped at home. How their masculinity was encouraged or discouraged. It comes back to the example of a woman we set. We want our sons to attract confident women who equally value the unique differences between men and women!
4.) We want them to have healthy families!
If we raise confident sons, who then attract healthy spouses, that’s a good recipe for success in them having healthy families! It doesn’t guarantee anything, of course. But it’s a good environment for raising children, who hopefully become confident in themselves and go on to produce similar outcomes!
5.) We value keeping each other properly placed in our lives.
We need to recognize sons have no obligation to meet any of our emotional needs. Sound weird? When’s the last time you called him to complain about your husband? If you’re having emotional hardship, who is one of the top people that come to mind that you want to process with? If ever it’s our sons, it’s inappropriate. Same goes for them. Do they have any sort of emotional dependence on us? Do they call to share every nitty-gritty detail of their lives? Maybe it seems like we’re just really close… maybe we didn’t even realize this is a problem. But it is. Yes, we want to always be a safe place for our sons to land when they really need it. But we must have the discernment to know when to set boundaries and let them learn on their own. When we keep each other properly placed, the relationship can thrive. We don’t need anything unnecessary from each other, we don’t carry the weight of each other’s problems and we don’t have emotional investment in certain outcomes.
6.) I want my future daughter-in-law to be treated right.
I want her to be treated right because as a human being, she deserves that. Also because, my son is a reflection of me. I want my son to honor her as a woman and know how to treat her the way she deserves. I want her to be confident in him as a man and feel safe under his leadership. I want her to be happy she married him. Both for her sake, his sake and for the sake of any kids they might have.
7.) There’s enough toxic masculinity in the world already.
There’s a nauseating amount of macho male egos who need to squelch women to feel powerful. There’s perhaps an even greater percentage of passive men. The ones who really aren’t equipped to emotionally protect or defend anyone – including themselves. Neither category fit what I believe is the way God intended for men to operate. There should be a balance between strong yet gentle, protective but nurturing, confident yet humble. We can’t fix the world. But we can impact our small corner of it. Staring with doing our best to find that balance as we raise our sons.
8.) Grown mama’s boys point us back to our own dysfunction.
At the end of the day, any sort of unhealthy attachment between mother and son can be summed up by one crucial word: codependence. If our sons grow up to be overly dependent on us, it ultimately just reflects our own dysfunction. Codependence looks like placing greater importance on feeling good about ourselves, than prioritizing our son’s wellbeing. Codependence is overly involving ourselves in our son’s business, because it feels nice to be needed. A mama’s boy points us back to our own issues. We don’t want that. Not for them, and certainly not for us.