Mothers get the message early and often – push your sons away. Don’t “baby” them with too much cuddling and comforting. Don’t keep them emotionally bound to you. Back off, because boys need to learn to stand on their own. It is as if there were an existing playbook—based on gender preconceptions dating back to Freud, Oedipus, and beyond—that prescribes the way mothers and their sons should interact.
Kate Stone Lombardi, an award-winning journalist who has written for the New York Times for more than twenty years, persuasively argues much of the entrenched “wisdom” about mothers and sons is hopelessly outdated. Highlighting new research, The Mama’s Boy Myth reveals that boys who are close to their mothers are happier, more secure, and enjoy stronger connections with their friends and ultimately, their spouses.
Lombardi shares revealing interviews with mothers – and fathers and sons – who are pushing back against the old prohibition against mother-son closeness. You’ll meet the Seattle mom who was told that her weeping 3-year-old should “man up,” the New York professor painted as “an hysterical mother” for intervening when her 9-year-old was being bullied, and the Vermont writer who declined to perform what she called “a son-ectomy” on her moody teenager, still comforting him with hugs and kisses. These mothers face harsh criticism for how they are raising their sons, yet continue to follow their instincts. Lombardi argues that the rise of the new male—one who is more emotionally intelligent and more sensitive without being less “manly”—is directly attributable to women who are rejecting the “mama’s boy” taboo.
Every day at kitchen tables and in rides home from soccer games, mothers and sons are redefining what a healthy mother-son relationship can look like. The Mama’s Boy Myth offers a fresh perspective on family relationships that will be welcomed by mothers, fathers, and sons alike.