Once a year, at a lunch in Brisbane, mothers of boys meet to share stories from the front line – tales of risky behavior, stinky shoes and rugby injuries. It’s an annual celebration of the special status of the mother of only boys – the lone female in the fog of testosterone that we call home. It’s a great event, but I’ve never heard any suggestion that our boys should join us. That would just be weird – wouldn’t it?
Or would it?
Schools put on father and son events, there are mother and daughter lunches and even father and daughter dinners on some family calendars – but the relationship between mothers and sons is more often mocked than encouraged. And it’s generally accepted that there’s nothing attractive or manly about a Mummy’s boy.
But, US author Kate Stone Lombardi is challenging that notion. In her new book, The Mama’s Boy Myth, Lombardi claims that our view of the relationship between mothers and sons is frozen in a long-forgotten decade and she believes it’s time we changed. Although mothers have always been warned that keeping sons close will damage their masculinity, Lombardi argues that their relationship is extremely beneficial. She points to new research that shows that it is a “boy’s mother who is the most influential when it comes to risky behavior, not only with alcohol and drugs but also in preventing both early and unprotected sex.”
This is no way lets fathers off the hook. The problems faced by underfathered boys are well documented and on this subject Steve Biddulph’s Raising Boys is a treasure-trove of practical parenting advice. But Lombardi’s point is well made, that it’s not just okay for mothers and sons to retain a close relationship in adolescence and beyond, it’s essential. The mother-son relationship is just as valuable as every other family relationship. And that’s something most mothers of boys would agree with.
The Mama’s Boy Myth is due out March 15, or you can read an essay by Kate Stone Lombardi here.