Mothers and Sons
Some researchers have claimed we are in the middle of a “boy crisis.” Men are now only 40 percent of college graduates and boys make up 55 percent of the high school dropouts.
Education has become even more important than in the past with less opportunities for well-paid manufacturing and manual labor jobs. Boys also have higher rates of being diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and are more likely to participate in risky behavior such as texting while driving, criminal activity, and alcohol and drug abuse.
Although a majority of children are being raised in two-parent households, children are increasingly being raised in single parent homes with a vast majority of those being female-headed homes. In addition, there is an increasing amount of single by choice households where women choose to adopt or give birth as a single woman. It is more important than ever to examine the mother-and-son relationship, the unique challenges they face, but also the special bond that can be formed.
It’s true that boys and girls have more things in common than different, but sometimes those differences can cause relationship difficulties between mothers and sons. Moms may not understand why her son is always on the go, obsessed with gaming, takes more risks, is physically aggressive, or doesn’t care for his personal hygiene. Not all boys are this way, but these are common frustrations.
As boys get older, they start pushing their mother away when they begin wanting to identify more as a male. This can be a challenge in female-headed households. Boys growing up without a father in the home have higher rates of running away, school drop-out, incarceration, substance abuse and suicide. It is during adolescence when boys are especially in need of having a father, or a father figure, so he can learn the road map to becoming a man.
Moms may have difficulty adapting to the changing mother-son relationship when her sweet little boy becomes an independent man. The relationship often starts out very sweet with some little boys saying, “I want to marry you when I grow up.” When a mom can understand normal male behavior, she can learn to be more accepting of the gender differences and celebrate his strengths.
Moms play a powerful role in the emotional development of boys. When moms can give unconditional love, praise for his bravery and independence, and teach him how to manage negative emotions, it can go a long way in helping him develop emotional intelligence. A healthy emotional bond between a mother and son can translate into a healthy emotional bond with his future wife.
-By Alina M. Baltazar, PhD, MSW, CFLE