The Special Bond Between a Mother and Her Son

Pierre Van ZylLearn, Opinion, parenting, Personal Growth + Development

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mother and son

A mom is that person who immerses the entirety of herself into another human being – her child. Science says that some of a baby’s DNA cells never leave the mother’s body, a phenomenon known as fetomaternal microchimerism. Some of the fetus’s cells escape from the uterus through the placenta and will be transported by the blood to other parts of the body. In other words, biologically, a fetus never completely leaves its mothers. This is such an amazing scientific discovery because in day to day life, this applies on such a metaphorical level.

A mother will always have an unfathomable bond with all her children, and it doesn’t matter what their sex is. However, there is a different kind of connection between a mother and her son from the kind she shares with her daughters (and vice versa). Moms are usually more terrified about their boys growing up than the girls. Female children will most likely remain close to their moms and as such will lean on her for some of support even when they are fully self-reliant. Male children on the other hand tend to “outgrow” their mothers (and parents in general), which may or may not be to their advantage. 

James & his Mom: How the Typical Mother-son Bond Evolves

A mother often experiences personal conflicts about how she wants her son to turn out. She’s terrified that soon enough, he wouldn’t want to hear the sound of her voice cautioning him anymore. She’s also wary of the fact that if he’s too dependent on her, he’d forever remain a mama’s baby boy, both to others and himself. Here’s how this complicated bond could typically evolve from childhood to adulthood [1].

Childhood:

James is three, curious and charming. He’s his mother’s only child and her world revolves around him. She doesn’t ever let him sit on his own and he enjoys being carried while he chatters away about everything. She couldn’t be more thankful for such a loving child. He develops a strong sense of trust and emotional security while being nurtured by his mother. Studies have shown that children who were neglected and deprived of parental care have a higher risk of developing anxiety, and depression as adults [2]

 James then turns nine. He seems to have developed a liking for violent video games and rough play. He no longer likes to be held by his mother because he finds it ‘uncool’ and embarrassing. At this stage, most boys would develop a budding confidence and a desire to blend in. They want to be accepted by their peers and would do anything to come off as tough and independent. Being ‘mama’s coochie’ would be bad for the reputation. The mother’s fear of separation deepens at this point and she begins to realize that truly, her son is growing up, and too fast for her liking. It should be noted that his is an example, and of course, others may have had different experiences. 

Adolescence:

James turns 13. Puberty has set in and he’s trying to figure out the changes he’s going through on his own because he’s too embarrassed to talk about them. He becomes more reclusive and wants to spend more time in his room alone. He begins to battle with self-esteem and body image issues. As he adds up on the years, he discovers girls, alcohol, drugs, vaping/smoking, and begins to succumb easily to peer pressure. He develops a temper and becomes more aggressive, snapping off at the slightest provocation and getting into wordy matches with his parents. James is nearly uncontrollable at this point.

He wants to be treated as an adult who knows what’s good for himself. He wants to be included in the decision-making, and he doesn’t want anyone addressing him as though he was a child.

 A mother who sits her son down and engages him in an adult-like conversation is creating a channel for him to communicate more with her. She can get through to him on how to sort out the good and bad essentials of life around him. He will be more open about his problems and would develop a strong sense of confidence when he has an adult as a steady guide. He’ll engage in less risky behavior and be able to communicate effectively with others.

Adulthood:

James turns 18 and goes away to college. He doesn’t listen to his mom anymore and they argue about everything from his decision to avoid home at all cost to his lifestyle choices. She tries to counsel him about career choices, but his mind is already made up. James loves his mom and she loves him, but they are starting to get impatient with each other.

James graduates from college and is all about establishing himself. His mom gets to speak to him maybe once every two weeks, but sometimes months, and she barely knows what’s going on in his life anymore. James is now a man in complete control of his life. His mom misses those days when she was his go-to person. She wishes he hadn’t grown up so quickly, and although she’s glad he turned out okay, there’s a lot she wishes she could have done better.

As James gets older, he becomes wiser as life’s experiences continually teach him valuable lessons. He now understands the importance of a close relationship with one’s parents while they are still around, and he begins to make solid efforts to bridge the gap between himself and his mother. He becomes responsible for his mother’s wellbeing and thoughts of her are never far away from his heart. 

His mother now understands that her baby boy has grown into a man and although that’s not going to change, he will always be her little boy.

In a mother’s words

“Dear son

Today I wish I could go back. I wish I could go back and hold you as an infant. I wish I could smell your skin and rock you just a little longer. I wish I could be still and feel that moment just one more time.

When I look at pictures of you in your toddler years with your round cheeks and pudgy hands, I smile. Inside my heart breaks a little bit because I wish I could squeeze you as you ask me a billion questions in your tiny voice, just one more time,” wrote Jess, owner of Wonder Oak, a family-life blog [3].

A mom would usually wonder how time went by so fast. Wasn’t it was just yesterday that her son was throwing up milk all over her shirt? How did he morph into the big boy who doesn’t want his mother dropping him off at soccer practice anymore? 

“Being your mom has been so much messier than I anticipated. I’ve made so many more mistakes than I thought I would, but I’ve never been more proud of anything I’ve done in my entire life. You have taught me what it is to truly love.

You just got up from your reading and did a little dab and floss when I told you could grab out the video games. I wish I could go back, but I wouldn’t want to miss a second of watching you right now. Raising you has been so much more stretching, but so much better than I ever thought it would be,” she wrote.

There are thousands of ‘guide to parenting’ books out there, some of which may be quite helpful to parents. However, there’s no guarantee that you won’t make any mistakes. No parent can be one-hundred percent perfect. Giving your child everything he or she wants and doing whatever they demand is seen as destructive parenting, even though you started off aiming to be the best you could be. 

However, whatever mistakes a mother makes while raising her son are all part of the growth process and she learns to do better with time. 

Talk ‘with’ him, but try not to talk ‘to’ him

Excessively restricting a boy and putting down several ground rules may push him further away from you. Rules should be kept to the most essential and at a minimum. Talk with him like he’s a capable person and let him take responsibility for himself when he needs to. Communication is the most effective tool a mother can use to foster a long-lasting bond between herself and her son. He’ll more emotionally stable, responsible, and less likely to suffer from anxiety as an adult. 

“No matter how old you get I will always be twenty-one years ahead. It isn’t much, and as you get older it will seem like less, but I will always be your Mama and you will always be my boy. These arms are here for squeezing you; these ears are here for listening to you, and this heart will hold you forever and a day.”

  1. Kalpana M. Mother-Son Relationship: Why It Is Important And How It Evolves Over Years. Mom Junction. https://www.momjunction.com/articles/mother-son-relationships_00428471/. Retrieved 03-10-19
  2. Paterniti et al. Childhood neglect predicts the course of major depression in a tertiary care sample: a follow-up study. BMC Psychiatry. https://bmcpsychiatry.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12888-017-1270-x. Retrieved 03-10-19
  3. Jess. DEAR SON, YOU’LL ALWAYS BE MY LITTLE BOY. Wonder Oak. https://wonderoak.com/2018/07/29/dear-son-youll-always-be-my-little-boy/. Retrieved 03-10-19
  4. Admin. “This Part of Your Baby Remains in Your Body For up to 38 Years,” Experts Claim. The Hearty Soul. https://theheartysoul.com/this-part-of-your-baby-remains-in-your-body-for-up-to-38-years-experts-claim/. Retrieved 03-10-19
  5. Kathy Caprino. 7 Damaging Parenting Behaviors That Keep Children From Growing into Leaders. Thrive Global. https://thriveglobal.com/stories/7-damaging-parenting-behaviors-that-keep-children-from-growing-into-leaders/.

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