Mothers and sons share a very special relationship. According to Dan Kingdom and Michael Thompson in their book, Raising Cain: Protecting The Emotional Life Of Boys, “Emotionally, as well as physically, throughout this childhood, as a boy explores he carries the safety and familiarity of his mother with him."

It is the mother who takes care of the boy’s emotional needs. And in his everyday life, it is primarily from you that your son will learn about love and how to be kind and warm. You will coax your son to keep up with his studies and help him around the house. You will also teach your son about girls and how to get along with them.

But as a boy grows older, this relationship changes. His needs will change—and you should be able to recognize this. Yet at no point must you give up your son. Kindlon and Thompson write: “Women who love their sons fear losing them, yet they feel impelled by cultural messages to ‘cut the apron strings.’ A mother who cares about her son and wants what’s best for him can easily fall prey to the worry that, if she stays too close, he’ll turn out to be a mama’s by, or worse, a sissy.”


The term “mama’s boy” has always had a negative connotation. When a man is described as such, he’s seen as a spineless weakling who cannot think for himself. A mama's boy is someone who depends on his mother for his sense of self and security.

Knowingly or unknowingly, you may mold your son into one. As your son grows, his needs naturally change. And yet, when you continue to treat your seven-year-old like a two-year-old who needs more fussy protection, the consequences may not lead to any good.

How does this happen? You may just be modeling the behavior you saw from you parents. Or you may be compensating for whatever needs you might not have gotten when you were young. Or you may just fear being alone.


The key is finding the balance between providing your son enough emotional support while giving him enough room to grow—and not distancing yourself from your son completely.

Read on and know how using the right parenting methods can help you raise a son who is smart aand affectionate—and not a mama's boy.

(First published in Good Housekeeping Magazine, Family section as "Is your son a mama's boy?" in November 2004; adapted for use in Female Network)

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