What do women really think about mama's boys? Is it sweet and endearing or awkward and uncomfortable? Here's what Meg told Thought Catalog about her boyfriend. “Sometimes I think his mom thinks I’m interfering with their mother-son relationship. But, I fell in love with him, not his mother. I’m not going to let her be the reason for leaving.” Okay, that's one perspective. But here's what Korin wrote in Cosmopolitan magazine. "Research shows that guys who are close to their moms are super boyfriend and husband material." So, which is it?
Like most relationships in life, the mother-and-son bond has its own set of pros and cons. On the bright side, he may be a family-oriented man with a strong interest in having kids. But on the downside, he may never want to leave his mother's basement or pay his own rent. Okay, now we're officially confused on the stance on mama's boys. There's so much to consider!
That's why I put this list together. Below are 10 signs of healthy mother-and-son boundaries and 10 that are perfectly acceptable. The process of turning into a mama's boy begins in toddlerdom and can last a lifetime, which can be a good or bad thing depending on boundaries.
Let's start with the 10 unhealthy ones...
20 Unhealthy: Creating Unrealistic Demands For Time And Attention
While it's true that we make time for the ones we love, children can't always be at their parents' beck and call. Especially in the teenage and adulthood years. Yes, it's important to prioritize mom and dad, but not above everything else in a son's life. “A parent or adult might call excessively or expect the other person to spend a large amount of their free time with them,” says clinical psychologist Gina Delucca. But if a son spends so much time focusing on mom, how will he have time to figure out his life?
19 Unhealthy: Feeling Responsible For Each Other's Well Being
A son should never feel pressured to do or say anything just to make his mother happy. A son cannot control the state of her emotions — only she can do that. “Some parents have learned to hold their children responsible for their emotions,” says family therapist Amanda Stemen, which really just sounds like an easy way out. It's unhealthy for a mom to blame her emotions on someone else. Language like, "If you hadn't done that, I wouldn't be worry" should be avoided. No one likes a guilt trip.
18 Unhealthy: Lying To Avoid Disappointment
It's not uncommon for children to tell white lies. If a mother asks, "Who drew on the walls?" some sons will try to blame the family pet or their sibling. As much as it pains us to admit it, we've all lied for the sake of pleasing someone else or staying out of trouble, but we really shouldn't make a pattern out of this in adulthood. “You don’t need your mom to express disapproval as a way of teaching you right from wrong anymore," says family therapist Aaron Anderson. “Be upfront with her about what you’re doing, what you did and why."
17 Unhealthy: Relying On Mom For Money
Isn't the whole point of an allowance to teach children about financial responsibility and independence? As a toddler or teenager, it's okay for a son to ask his mother for small pocket change here and there, but as an adult, this behavior really should stop. In a way, money means control. If an adult son asks for money from his mom, she's allowed to inquire about what he's going to do with it and why. A grown man shouldn't have to explain his spending habits.
16 Unhealthy: Checking In Before Making A Decision
If a son can't make day-to-day decisions without calling his mother first, something is wrong. Imagine how slowly life would go by if he had to pause, pick up the phone, have a conversation with mom, and then follow through. Adults make decisions every few minutes. "Should I eat?" "Should I go to bed earlier tonight? "Should I change the channel?" If a mother's advice is not needed or wanted, don't feel pressured to call up and ask. “This can lead to an inability to be assertive, low self-confidence, and discomfort with self-expression.”
15 Unhealthy: Violating Personal Space And Privacy
This sort of behavior is unhealthy in any relationship, not just mother and son. If a mother is snooping through her son's room, emails, and text messages, it's a clear cut sign of disregarding his personal boundaries. Healthy relationships are built on mutual trust. A mother should respect her son's closed door or password. If he wants to come clean about something, he will in his own time. There's a saying that suggests "if you go looking for something, you'll find it" because our imagination takes over.
14 Unhealthy: Competing With Each Other
In healthy mother-son relationships, she'll feel happy or proud—not envious or jealous— about his achievements. There's absolutely no need for a mother and son to compete with each other if they aren't in the same life stages or chasing after the same things. If feelings of envy do arise, however, it may be wise to keep it quiet and let it slide. Sons shouldn't feel dampened by their mothers or feel the need to shine any less bright in fear that she won't take the news well.
13 Unhealthy: Enabling Of Bad Or Erratic Behaviors
There's a fine line between protecting a family member and covering up for them. If a son does something bad, whether it's pushing a kid on the playground or stealing money from the cash register at work, a mother should never clean up her son's messes just to avoid an argument or punishment. This behavior "may be related to guilt associated with her parenting or in order to maintain their child’s dependence on them." But in the end, therapists say it does more harm than good.
12 Unhealthy: Oversharing Of Personal Details
How many of us have been stuck watching a "romantic bedroom" movie scene with our parents? Awkward! That's cringe-worthy enough on its own, but it's even worse when a mother intentionally shares those kinds of details with her son, regardless of how old he is. Communication between mother and son needs some boundaries when it comes to romance and the opposite gender. Little Timmy doesn't need to know about mommy's date last night and how she slept over. Seriously TMI.
11 Unhealthy: Handling Mom's Responsibilities
"Awww, it's so sweet and selfless that a mother does her son's laundry!" Nope. Not true. Although these may seem like innocent gestures of kindness, if a son doesn't learn the basic skills of living on his own, he might not get there.
Ever see that movie Failure To Launch with Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew McConaughey? It's the same deal. "These acts are interfering with the adult child’s ability to live independently and care for themselves." Cleaning the dishes is a pain. We all can agree. But it's gotta get done.
Moving onto the healthy boundaries...
10 Healthy: Remembering That Mom Is The Leader
It's perfectly healthy for a son to follow in his mother's lead at a young age. Toddlers and babies don't know right from wrong yet, or if an apple is healthier than drinking a can of soda for lunch. Parents teach them that stuff. "Making room for hearing your child’s needs or requests is important as long as it is done respectfully," says mother Kathy Milans. "But ultimately, the parents need to have the final say no matter how much a child whines or complains."
9 Healthy: Respecting 'Me' Time
This counts for both mother and son. If a teenager has a closed door, don't go barging in without knocking first. The same goes for mom. If she's relaxing in a bubble bath after running errands all day, leave her with some peace and quiet for a while. We all need these private moments to recharge our batteries. A mother and son shouldn't be joined at the hip all day as this type of co-dependency might hinder his social skills later on in life.
8 Healthy: Staying Out Of Romantic Relationships
At a certain age, all those cooties that girls supposedly had will be long gone. Both genders are suddenly interested in each other in romantic ways during teenage-hood and they should feel comfortable exploring their feelings without mom judging. A mother has the right to object to closed doors in her house, but she shouldn't meddle in personal matters unless her son asks for help or advice. Young adults need to start navigating their romantic lives by themselves... even if it comes with heartbreak.
7 Healthy: Asking (Or Paying) Others For Help
Mothers with adult sons who've left the nest may need to find other resources for help, even if it's paid help. That young boy who once mowed the lawn for 10 bucks is off at college. He doesn't have the time to assist in every day tasks around the house. If a mother needs help cleaning the house or doing the laundry, why not pay someone to do it? Like a housekeeper or an assistant. Sometimes paying for help is easier than asking for it, because then it becomes a favor.
6 Healthy: Moving Out Of The House In Adulthood
Failure To Launch might be the perfect movie to summarize this article. The average age for sons to leave the house is 18, at which age they've been accepted into college and are about to experience dorm life for the first time. While it is acceptable for some to live at home to save money during college ('cause it's already so freakin' expensive), there should really be a cutoff age. Think about it — most girls don't want to go home with a guy if he lives with mom and dad.
5 Healthy: That Other Women May Come First
Yeah, this may be a bitter pill to swallow. An old proverb states, "A son is a son until he takes a wife. A daughter is a daughter for all of her life." We've seen so many movies where the son takes a woman home for the first time and mama is not pleased. A mother may wonder if this woman is the right choice for him, or there may be certain personality traits or behaviors she doesn't like. Keep in mind that mother doesn't always know best in matters of her son's love life.
4 Healthy: Bathing And Using The Bathroom Privately
Bathtub with mom can be fun as a toddler and baby. But one day something clicks, and suddenly it feels weird and uncomfortable for a son to be naked around his mom. This shift may start to happen around puberty when a boy's body and hormones are changing. How do we say this without having a TMI moment? Let's just say curious boys with minds that wander about the female form may take a little longer in the bathroom. Always knock before entering and don't ask why they're all sweaty.
3 Healthy: Sleeping In The Same Bed Needs To Stop
Again, something just clicks in the human brain to make this experience not okay anymore. Therapists and psychologists have mixed feelings about mothers sleeping with their baby. Some say it's wildly unsafe, others claim it should strengthen their bond. But in adulthood, come on. A growing boy should have his private room with his own bed to stretch out in. And besides, doesn't dad want to sleep next to mom? He's spent enough time on the couch playing second fiddle.
2 Healthy: Establishing Financial Independence
Adulthood isn't always going to be easy. Part of it is endlessly scrolling through Craigslist of LinkedIn looking for jobs. Another part is going through the long interview process only to realize we didn't get it and have to start from square one again. It's trials and errors like this that help sons grow up and reach financial independence. Moms should only be asked for money in adulthood in serious, life-changing emergencies. That doesn't count for paying rent or the phone bill.
1 Healthy: Keeping Puberty Matters Private
Most schools talk about the birds and the bees and puberty in health class, so thankfully that takes some of the awkwardness away from parents. When a boy is going through puberty, he may find it more comfortable to talk to dad instead of mom since he went through the exact same thing. The same goes for girls who talk to their moms about periods. Some dads don't have a clue how to handle that situation and vice versa. It's okay to lean on one parent more than the other.
References: thoughtcatalog.com, cosmopolitan.com, quotestopics.com, huffingtonpost.com, debleaphoto.com, centerislandcontracting.org, aspenbh.com, ktla.com, haltonparentsblog.ca, bt.com, thestatenislandfamily.com, priviledgeofparenting.com, seedbed.com, youtube.com, youthtoday.org, verywellfamily.com, lds.org, smatterist.com, childtrends.org, clarkpublicutilities.com, amazinggray.com, understood.org, theobriendsabroad.com