Studies Show the Huge Influence Mothers Have on Their Sons
“‘Far from making boys weaker, the love of a mother can and does actually make boys stronger, emotionally, and psychologically. Far from making boys dependent, the base of safety a loving mother can create…provides a boy with the courage to explore the outside world. But most important, far from making a boy act in ‘girl-like’ ways, a loving mother actually plays an integral role in helping a boy develop his masculinity,’ ” says Dr. William Pollack, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School.
Will Moms take the “Man” out of the Boy?
It is well accepted that sons and moms share a special bond, different than that which boys have with their dads, and different than moms have with their daughters. It doesn’t mean either loves the other less or more. Science and psychologists have been trying to explain this connection without much success. No one seems to know why or how it happens. The only thing that becomes obvious is the connection between a healthy or unhealthy mother/son relationship and how the son adjusts to life away from mom later on in life.
Boys Need a Mom
So what is it exactly that little boys learn from their mothers?
1) How to handle stress – Studies have shown that the hormone oxytocin is released during nurturing interactions between mother and baby. As oxytocin levels increase, cortisol – the stress hormone – decreases.
2) How to experience all emotions – Society has taught boys that it’s not “manly” to cry or feel scared. “Mothers of boys who teach their sons that their emotions and nonverbal communication signals are a warning signal that they need to recognize and respond to in order to make necessary adjustments in life, nurture emotional intelligence in their sons.”
3) How to trust – This lesson comes from providing sons with security and safety. Around 15-24 months, babies start branching away from mom and exploring the world around them. They need to know you’re there and rely on your presence even while they’re exploring.
4) Empathy – Moms teach this by pointing out to their sons how their actions make other children/siblings feel.
5) How to show affection – Boys whose moms cuddle and hug and hold and touch them learn how to show a “softer side of love.”
6) Needs-based independence – Around 18 months of age, your son will start “demanding” that he do things on his own. Don’t take it as a personal rejection. If your son is ready to do this, then you’re doing your job well. There needs to be a “balance between offering support and stepping back to let him learn from his own experiences – and his own mistakes.”
7) It’s okay to be active – This needs to be balanced with times to de-stress as well. Boys are well-known for their boundless energy and moms need to allow their boys sufficient time for their active-ness and understand what they’re energy needs are.
8) How to communicate – Moms who learn about how their sons listen and use that will teach their sons how to listen and communicate. For example, it is quite normal for boys not to make eye contact. Making and keeping eye contact can actually make it more difficult for a boy to remain on task or concentrate. Knowing how your son communicates is important in teaching him how to transition between these moments.
9) How to respect women – Studies have shown that boys who had an insecure relationship with their parents acted out more in school. “Mothers of boys who are strong and loving refuse to allow their sons to treat them in a disrespectful way.”
10) Self-control – Moms are instrumental in teaching boys how to control their impulses. “When moms of boys set consistent limits with their son at an early age, they help him develop self-control.”
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