For generations, mothers have gotten the same old message when it comes to raising sons: beware of keeping him “too close.” A mom who nurtures a deep emotional bond with her boy will prevent him from growing up to be a strong, independent man. By refusing to cut those apron strings, she is on track to create a wimpy, dependent, adjusted “mama’s boy.” There’s just one problem with this theory: it’s not true.
In fact, pushing boys to separate prematurely from their mothers and encouraging them to “man up” can be damaging to boys. What’s more, there are enormous benefits to a close mother-son bond, starting from the earliest days and continuing into a man’s adult years.
Baby boys who do not have secure attachments with their mothers go on to have behavioral problems later in life. Statistics reveal that boys who do not bond securely with their mothers in the infant years act much more hostile, destructive and aggressive later in life. A close bond with their moms when boys were young helped prevent delinquency when they were older.
Boys who are close to their mothers perform better in school. Mothers often nurture emotional intelligence in their sons, teaching them to recognize and express their own feelings and to be more attuned to the feelings of others. These boys not only become more articulate–which helps them with reading and writing skills, but also have better self-control in the classroom.
Few women still admire “the strong silent type,” let alone a man who expresses his anger by punching a wall. Men who can both listen and articulate their emotions are far more attractive. And of course, sons who grow up respecting and loving their mothers tend to respect and love other women. These same skills will also help them in the work place. In today’s economy, brute physical strength and a dominating style is no longer a ticket for success. Rather, men need the ability to work in teams and to have the very communication skills and social intelligence that their mothers have taught them all along.