Today’s Wall Street Journal has an essay by Kate Stone Lombardi about the benefits of strong mother-son relationships. I couldn’t agree more with her.
In fact, research shows that boys suffer when they separate prematurely from their mothers and benefit from closeness in myriad ways throughout their lives
A study published in Child Development involving almost 6,000 children, age 12 and younger, found that boys who were insecurely attached to their mothers acted more aggressive and hostile later in childhood—kicking and hitting others, yelling, disobeying adults and being generally destructive.
A study of more than 400 middle school boys revealed that sons who were close to their mothers were less likely to define masculinity as being physically tough, stoic and self-reliant. They not only remained more emotionally open, forming stronger friendships, but they also were less depressed and anxious than their more macho classmates. And they were getting better grades.
There is evidence that a strong mother-son bond prevents delinquency in adolescence. And though it has been long established that teenagers who have good communication with their parents are more likely to resist negative peer pressure, new research 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.
Finally, there are no reputable scientific studies suggesting that a boy’s sexual orientation can be altered by his mother, no matter how much she loves him.
My mom and I were extremely close, and in many ways she was my best friend growing up, until she died far too early when I was 12 years old. From her I learned how to clean (not cooking, which I learned on my own after she died), how to take care of my two younger brothers including changing the youngest brother’s diapers, how to be kind and compassionate, and how to think for myself. My dad taught me many wonderful skills, but without my mother there is no way my wife (of 27 years) would have married me. I had to do a lot of growing up before she would even date me, and my mother as a role model of a mature, self-controlled, intellectual, and loving person showed me the way.
I am very glad that my 14 year-old son is very close to my wife, as is my 17 year-old daughter. We are all affectionate with one another, as our parents taught us to be, and my wife’s qualities are helping to take the edge off our kids’ tempers and everything associated with puberty. Kids need their moms, and boys are no different than girls in needing to be close to their moms throughout their lives.