Tag Archives: mother-son relationships

‘The Mama’s Boy Myth: Why Keeping our Sons Close Makes them Stronger’ by Kate Stone Lombardi

I am a bit of a CBC junky and even when I’m in the UK I tune in to various CBC programs on arts and culture in addition to news. I heard about this book on CBC and the topic intrigued me. If you are very interested in the topic or love parenting books, then by all means find it at your local library. However, I’ll do you a favour and just give you a few of the main points. 🙂 Click on the ABC interview below. It’s a good summary of some of the issues.

The book exposes a double standard  in our society where the expectation is for mothers to be close to their daughters, but that being close to their sons can be inappropriate or detrimental to them.  No one seems to mind a ‘Daddy’s girl’ and girls are regularly encouraged into masculine pursuits, but a ‘Mama’s Boy’ is frowned upon.  Dad is cool when he teaches his daughter how to fix the car, but don’t let Mom teach her son to knit or engage in a heart to heart. What a boy gains by not being pushed away by his mother to fulfill the macho “Marlboro man” stereotype and by keeping him close, is sensitivity, communication skills, and emotional intelligence. The author is focussing on the mother-son relationship, so she overlooks, to a certain extent, the possibility that these things could be learned from a sensitive, communicative Dad.  Of course she does admit that the very best scenario is for sons and daughters to stay close to both parents. Here are some of the points which I found interesting.

1) Keeping our sons (and daughters) close and encouraging healthy communication, makes them stronger.
2) Mothers can safely reject the notion that pushing a son away or withdrawing when he gets older is better for him; indeed the author proves that keeping him close will make him stronger without any of the traditionally believed pitfalls.
3) The workplace ideals for strong leadership are not necessarily still the traditional male attributes of brute strength, size, and dominance, now giving over more to things like group skills, negotiation, social intelligence, and open communication.
4) Socializing into gender begins even before birth when we ask the age old question, ‘is it a boy or a girl?’
5) Statistics for single parent or same-sex homes have been found to be no better or worse. The author states that “children can thrive with a diversity of different parental combinations”.
6) Boys who are close to mothers or sisters have higher verbal skills and suffer less from depression.

Are the traditional roles and assumptions the author highlights really true? Are mothers criticized for keeping their boys too close? Do they push their sons away? Is there really a ‘mama’s boy’ taboo? Are we still participating in strict gender stereotypes? Some food for thought…leave a comment if you have thoughts on this.

Watch an ABC interview with the author.
The Mama’s Boy Myth