It’s said that the mother-son relationship is delicate, a special one, and is key to a son’s emotional development. In some studies, moms admit to having a stronger bond with their sons, and as Siobhan Freegard said, “try as we might, it can be very hard to treat all of our children the same.”
I always teased my husband about how he was so sheltered by his mom and how he is doing the opposite to our son at present. I heard him saying, “you’ll be fine, boys are tough, get up,” while I run to our son’s aid as soon as I could. Am I overprotecting? Am I helping my son get on his own or the irony?
I’m optimistic that no parents intend to treat their children differently, but some study shows they actually do. Per psychologytoday.com, girls are born physically mature, more social, and can handle challenges quicker, while boys have more difficult times regulating their affective states; hence they need more of their mom’s support. The American Psychological Association also reveals that boys close to their moms experienced better physical and mental health and flourished as adults. And about parents overprotecting their son, chronic anxiety and poor self-image are common impacts, said Dr. A. Escalante of the elemental.medium.com. Surely, the unique characteristics of the mother-child bond are imperative for child development.
As stated, moms have to “baby” their boys considering they are less developed and needed more support until puberty – when boys take a sudden growth spurt. This doesn’t mean, though, that moms care about their girls less; both needs are equal.
Proven by science, a mother-son attachment is healthy and beneficial, especially in terms of mental health. Studies suggest that boys are more vulnerable to neuropsychiatric disorders like autism, ADHD, and conduct disorders, and among other reasons, the mother-son bond antidotes said phenomenon.
Most of the time, my son spent time with his dad, but when he was in need, he called me. I find it magical how I understand my son’s need, and somehow this made him feel he doesn’t always need to act tough and can easily open up to me and feel secure.
6 reasons why sons are closer to moms
Please note that generally, the following may also apply to the mom-daughter relationship.
- Mom is the first person he ever made a connection with, even before birth.
- Mom understands him better than others. Mothers know best.
- Moms are good communicators, and they know how to negotiate well.
- Mom is his first teacher – he learned the basics from her.
- Mom prepares him to be a good man and teaches him to respect women.
- Mom is his haven. She made him feel secured and accepted unconditionally.
How close is mom-son attachment?
Who can resist hugging our little boys? Probably no one! Mom’s warm touch is important to infancy, but it’s not for always – of course, as our sons grow, then the physical contact must change too. Don’t be surprised if one day our sons would not want us to kiss him at all.
Unlike physical touch, the emotional and lifelong connection will stay forever. Moms’ love is unconditional, and sons’ love for their moms is unexplainable.
Impacts on child’s development
Experts noted that the boys’ early secure mother attachments profoundly influence how they behave as adults.
It was also concluded that boys who experienced more conflicts with moms were likely to show improper behavior as they grow older and those who were treated in the opposite – with tenderness and respect – make good friends get rid of loneliness, depression, and anxiety.
As published by MomJunction, moms influence their sons as follows:
- Emotionally intelligent and strong – boys with healthy relationships and bond with their moms are emotionally strong, secured, and confident in their lives. A study published about Child Development says that unconditional love and acceptance of the mother made the son confident and independent.
- Good at academics – a mom who is keen on her son’s education often help him perform well in academe.
- Favorable and less risky behavior – secondary to son’s emotional intelligence influenced by mom, he can balance his emotions and self-control. A study also reveals that moms have a major influence on sons’ attitudes toward alcohol, drugs, and sexual interest.
- Respect women – secure attachment to mom models his respect to women in general.
- Likely to become successful – parents who are involved in sons’ education and life help sons become successful professionally and personally.
- Improves communication – moms made sons open up to them and communicate without fear and inhibitions.
Moms, I included, love our children regardless of gender. But a “heart-to-heart talk” between moms and daughters is necessary as girls tend to misunderstand and overthink, asking, “What’s wrong with me? What’s lacking in me? Why mom reprimanded me while forgave my brother?” as they grow.
Security-wise, it’s not about treating our children differently. Instead, it’s about properly raising our boys, so no one needs protection from them in the future.
The unsecured bond
The mom-son bond is not always healthy, and sometimes the neglecting time brings concerns to both.
What exactly is a problematic relationship?
- It’s when moms are overprotective. When we do “momism,” this most likely makes our sons meek and dependent even in adulthood.
- It’s when we, moms, are too consumed with making a life; hence we forgot the little things that mostly count to our son’s growth.
- It’s when moms’ rigid rules are too suffocating, causing our sons to disobey instead.
- It’s when moms’ and sons’ privacy is compromised. Moms know better; let’s take control, trust our son, and know exactly when to step in.
Handling stress and resiliency
Studies indicate that boys actually are more resilient and are being less concerned about managing stress than girls. But interestingly, according to Dr. Brunilda Nazario of webmd.com, women play well in handling stress than men.
She said these 3 hormones, namely cortisol, epinephrine, and oxytocin, are responsible for why the 2 sexes react to stress differently.
- The cortisol and epinephrine together raise a person’s blood pressure and blood sugar level when stress strikes.
- The idea that women released more of these hormones tagging women to be more emotional, was further explained by Robert Sapolsky, Ph.D.
- He mentioned there is no consistent difference in cortisol production between boys & girls.
- Then, here comes oxytocin, one of the “happy hormones” that is released from the brain, countering the cortisol & epinephrine’s production and promoting nurturing & relaxing emotions.
- Between the 2 sexes, boys also secrete oxytocin when stressed, but it’s in much smaller amounts than girls.
Published in July 2000 issue of Psychological Review reported that:
- Women likely deal with stress by “tending and befriending” – that is, nurturing those around them and reaching out to others.
- On the other hand, men lean toward the “fight or flight” response – both bottling it up and escaping or fighting back.
In China, the son-preference lies deep in their culture, and I would say to some others too, like here in the Philippines.
The bloodline passes through males, and for a long time, a son is considered a “pension.” Among the obvious reasons behind this are financial security and males’ natural superiority in terms of strength and capability to carry out physical work.
At present, the old habits and beliefs gradually disintegrate, and as observed, girls excel and are doing better. Anthropologist Yunxiang Yan’s work suggests that changing attitudes and beliefs towards girls are evident without losing traditions completely at present.
Oedipus complex (OC)
Let’s not forget to consider the Oedipus Complex, which refers to a male child’s attraction to his mother and jealousy of his father. S. Freud believed that though these feelings are unconscious, these have a significant influence on a child’s development.
The OC is attributed to children about 3-5 years of age and usually ends when the son identifies and creates a positive attachment to his father, then he learns to repress his sexual instincts.
An unresolved OC can lead to challenges in achieving mature adult romantic relationships and conflicts with same-sex competitiveness. Psychoanalysis focuses on helping resolve these conflicts.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
Are moms stricter to daughters?
Generally, yes, and this is proven by research. Moms opted to be more critical to their daughters than their sons as they thought it’s necessary for their girls. As a matter of fact, this applies to where I live, the Philippines.
Girls here are more protected than boys – girls have stricter curfews and plenty of standards to oblige. Why? This is relative to security and safety issues and the stereotype that girls will lose a lot than boys when involving incidents.
Also, reviews noted that moms admitted they turn a blind eye to behaviors of boys which they would not do in girls.
Somehow, we consider our girls as a direct reflection of ourselves so as much as we can, we try to make the best version of themselves.
Is raising a mama’s boy bad parenting?
Being a “mama’s boy”, new research suggests, may be good for their mental health. This doesn’t mean overprotecting our son as we shadow him in every walk of his life, instead, it’s like making sure he knows that it’s okay to show his emotional side, cry, and not act tough at all times.
It also doesn’t mean for us to always indulge our son and turn a blind eye towards his inappropriate behaviors.
So whether he is the stereotype definition of “mama’s boy” or not, let’s remember that we, moms, influence our son significantly, let’s remain in control, therefore.
As parents, we need to take care of our children and it’s undeniable that our love goes a long way in affecting our child’s well-being. Mothers’ love is pure and for always. Whatever it takes, as long we are able, we will always be mothers to our children regardless of sex.
Of course, we should not just worry about boys but take action for all our children. They all expect and need moms’ support for proper development. Mommies, let’s remember our babies rely on tender and responsive care for them to grow with self-control and concerns for others.
Studies however show that moms favor their sons and sons are more attached to their mothers as it is needed for their mental health – boys who are poorly treated by their significant others most likely to engage in disruptive behaviors while those who experienced good parenting flourish in life.
In fact, son preference is a Chinese tradition and still evident to date.
On the brighter side, this “unfair” treatment by moms to their children is temporary and may last until the puberty period. In time, the son will discharge himself from the special attention he gets from his mom.
How about you, what is your view about mother-son attachment? I’d love to know your side. Comment your answers below.