By Margarita Nahapetyan
For generations, men have been ridiculed for being a mama's boy and criticized for being too feminine. Even Sigmund Freud cautioned about the unresolved oedipal complex in boys, saying that guys who were attached too close to their mothers were destined to be sexually confused, or even gay. However, now a new book claims that this is not a case anymore and that having a special mother-son bond actually is a good thing for a man.
Kate Stone Lombardi, an author of the book titled "The Mama's Boy Myth: Why Keeping Our Sons Close Makes Them Stronger," claims that the old stereotype that "sissy" men are weak and more likely to become homosexual is not true. According to Lombardi, having a close relationship with mothers in fact helps boys to develop better relationships with other people.
Lombardi, who lives in Chappaqua, New York, and is a mom of a 26-year-old daughter and 23-year-old son, contacted more than 1,100 mothers over the Internet in order to find out about their own experiences. Based on the women's answers, she came to the conclusion that our society is still afraid of a 'blindly adoring mother' who puts an endless praise on her boy. Lombardi says that the commonly and very widely accepted stereotype is that any boy who is too close to his mother will turn out to be a wimp who will remain dependent for the rest of his life and will never grow into a man who will be capable of developing healthy relationships with others.
Homophobia, according to the author, is one of the "big bogeymen" behind why our society is so negatively predisposed and so critical of the too close mother-and-son bond. Plus, there has always been an 'unspoken fear' that if a mother has too big influence on her son, there is a great chance of him becoming homosexual, Lombardi writes in her book.
Lombardi strongly disagrees with all the above mentioned and says that, in reality, everything is the opposite way and that a close mother-and-son relationship is very good for a boy's mental health. In the book she discusses how these boys are also less likely to grow into repressed men who are not able to talk about their feelings. They also become less susceptible to pressure from peers and are more likely to put off the first sexual experience.
There have been many studies supporting Miss Lombardi's statements, including the one by Arizona State University which involved more than 400 middle-school boys. The study wanted to figure out to what extent the boys bought into traditional masculine roles. The conclusion was that those guys who had close and warm relationships with their mothers developed better communication skills and reported lower rates of depression and delinquency when compared to their "tougher" counterparts.
Another study that involved almost 6,000 children concluded that baby boys who do not form strong bonding with their moms grow up to be more aggressive and destructive kids. And when young boys are being separated prematurely from their mothers, they grow into anxious little boys with a fear of intimacy and betrayal into adulthood. After all, the first woman a boy has loved and depended upon has pushed him away.
According to Lombardi, historically, mothers were the ones to blame for anything that goes wrong with a child. Even schizophrenia and later autism were said to be maternal mistakes. The author is very curious as to why fathers do not share the same criticism, saying that there seems to be much less general worry over the idea that if a father has too supportive and warm relationship with his daughter, she might grow up to be a lesbian.
Boys really need support of their mothers and the last thing they need is withdrawal of this support, Lombardi said. By keeping sons close, women are not making them mama's boys. In fact, they are helping their boys reach their full human potential and setting them up for happier and much more successful lives, the author concluded.