Happening Now: MPs vet CBK Governor nominee Kamau Thugge
Unmasking the mama’s boy: Can he still make a good partner?
What you need to know:
- The notion that all mama’s boys make bad marriage choices may be a generalised myth.
- Far from making boys weaker, the love of a mother can make boys stronger, emotionally, and psychologically.
- A mother will help develop her son’s full potential as long as she values his manliness and encourages his independence and sense of adventure
A mama’s boy is often perceived as a weakling who cannot function without his mother. He consults his mother about everything in his life. Despite this, mama’s boys are not short of dates.
At first, his affection for his mum will be heart-warming, you might even think that it will be transferred to you as well. But beneath, there will be signs that will sell him out. “He will talk to his mother about everything that goes on in his life. In her presence, he will act childish, seek permission to move from one estate to another, demand that you act or do things the way his mother does, and feel excessively guilty for failing to run tasks such as grocery shopping for his mother,” says Grace Kariuki, a family therapist based in Nairobi. He will likely have a streak of breaking up with any girl that his mother doesn’t approve of.
Can he make a good partner?
A mama’s boy can still become a great partner. The notion that all mama’s boys make bad marriage choices may be a generalised myth. According to Kate Stone Lombardi, the author of The Mama’s Boy Myth: Why Keeping Our Sons Close Makes Them Stronger, the view that mothers who fail to detach from their sons in their adulthood create the archetypal, effeminate, maladjusted mama’s boy is a myth. “Contrary to stereotype, boys who can express a broader range of emotions will not become wimps who forever cling to their mother. Instead, they will become independent men who make strong, empathetic spouses and partners,” she says. “In addition, these young men will be better equipped to navigate today’s economy where communication skills and teamwork are more important for success than brute physical strength or dominance.”
However, there will be certain commitments and decisions a mama’s boy must take to man up. “The first step is learning to manage his relationship with his mother. He must address the anxieties he feels about saying no or going against his mother’s wishes,” says Mrs. Kariuki. Strikingly, she says it will be better for the man to deliberately avoid dating women who resemble his mother in character or behavior. “This will help him distinguish his two relationships and demand for mutual respect while protecting his woman from undue attacks or demands from his mother,” she says.
The positive mama's influence
Far from making boys weaker, the love of a mother can make boys stronger, emotionally, and psychologically. Dr. William Pollack in the article What Boys Need from Mom, Pollack says rather than make boys dependent, the base of safety a loving mother can create provides a boy with the courage to explore the outside world. “Most important, far from making a boy act in ‘girl-like’ ways, a loving mother actually plays an integral role in helping the boy develop his masculinity,” he says.
Research psychologist and the author of Raising Boys Without Men: How Maverick Moms Are Creating the Next Generation of Exceptional Men, Peggy Drexler, adds that a mother will help develop her son’s full potential as long as she values his manliness and encourages his independence and sense of adventure. “All boys regardless of whether they are mama’s boys or not will have an innate and astonishing ability to establish a strong and resilient sense of their own masculinity,” she says.
When you choose to stay
Understand that you are in for in the long run and stop issuing ultimatums. “Avoid throwing tantrums if you can’t walk away. Don’t keep arguing that he is constantly choosing his mother over you. Make a habit of not mixing your relationship fights with her fights,” says Mrs. Kariuki. Dr. Frances Cohen the author of Crossroads at Midlife says that instead of fighting to be the number one woman in his life, acknowledge his attachment to his mother and evaluate what it is based on. “Connect with her and understand what makes her tick, her likes, and dislikes, values and attitude. Does she connect with her son because she feels abandoned by everyone else? How can you be her source of comfort?” says Dr. Cohen. “This will draw her into establishing a closer relationship with you instead of him.”
Becoming mama’s boy after marriage
Mrs. Kariuki says that just because he isn’t a mama’s boy now does not always mean that he can’t turn into one later in a marriage. “The possibility is alive if he is too emotionally attached to her, more than he should be, in line with his maturity,” she says. She explains that a man who becomes independent must be able to emotionally differentiate himself from his parents. “For example, if he left the nest and left unresolved mother-child codependency issues behind, then he or you might realise after marrying that his attachment to his mother is a challenge or even problem.”