I know you’ve seen it! The pictures of your friend and her son that seems a step above Motherly love. It’s almost as if he’s taking the place of a partner as opposed to a child. It’s always a little creepy to see, but it’s often just explained away as a cute pic. The one thing graduate school and training to become a psychotherapist has ruined for me, is seeing things as is! There’s no way I can see something and not think deeply about it’s meaning.
Whenever I see these kinds of pictures, I cringe. Mom’s have an undying love for their children and I believe sons (because I have one) hold a special place in every mother’s heart. However, attributing characteristics that are similar to that of a partner to your son, can leave him and yourself in a bit of a mess! Here are three things to consider when raising your son (not your man):
1. He is not your best friend: Childhood anxiety can be due to a lack of leadership by the parents. Your son needs you to provide him with structure, rules, and consequences. He also needs to have fun with you, on his level. You’re in charge of discipline. Your role is not suppose to be one of a friend or mate. Children look to parents for guidance. You want to raise boys to become independent men. Men who don’t need their mommies! It’s not his responsibility to give you comfort, keep you company or become a sounding board for your problems. Allow him to enjoy the nurturing mother-child relationship that is natural and appropriate!
2. Children learn from observing and imitating: It can be confusing when mommy treats you more like the man of the house, than a child who is a part of a larger system. You want to lead by example by surrounding your child with examples of healthy relationships which will develop his understanding of how adults function in relationships. It’s hard to do that when you are a part of the relationship yourself. Allow your son to see you in a relationship that highlights all the give and takes of normal healthy relationships, so that he can then mimic that in relationships of his own, later on in life.
3. You interrupt his development: One of the great ironies of turning your son into your man is that you become less successful at producing a truly mature man. When this “sophisticated” child grows up, he often finds himself unable to accept real adult responsibilities. All his life he has been given adult privileges without adult consequences! You allow him to be the man of the house without the real responsibilities of paying bills and managing a family. So when that time comes, he is completely unprepared. Until you recognize that your son is different from your man and needs to be nurtured as such, you will “raise” a “man” with a hollow core.
Don’t be that girl (mom)!