Relationships: A Mother's Influence in Her Son's Life

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Mothers determine to a large extent how a son feels about himself and how he relates to other women, especially his wife.

Sons view their mothers as a role model for what a woman is supposed to be.

Loud and boisterous or meek and mild, a son will view the attributes of his mother or the lack thereof as "right" - the way a woman should be. This can be used by the mother, either consciously or unconsciously, to manipulate and control her son when he is an adult.

A case in point: Z. is married to a vibrant, beautiful young lady. She is grounded, stable and practical. His mother, on the other hand, has self-esteem issues. As a result, Z.'s mom is jealous of her daughter-in-law and uses subversive measures to undermine their relationship such as planting seeds of doubt in Z.'s mind about her abilities to mother, keep house, or manage finances. Z. has always thought of his mother as loving and nurturing and cannot dis identify himself from her long enough to see that she may not be "right" on every issue. He sides with his mother most of the time. Consequently, his marriage is strained and Z. and his wife are contemplating divorce.

A mother's attitude toward other men can damage the way her son sees himself.

Even without spoken words, the effect of a wrong attitude can be accurately interpreted by the subconscious mind. Some mothers develop negative attitudes toward their husbands or other men that profoundly damage the development of their son's perception of themselves. For example, a woman who idolizes her husband past the point of healthy respect sends the message to her son that men are worthy of some kind of worship. As well as setting them up for future disappointment s in their own marital relationship, this attitude also is likely to cause divisions between fathers and sons because the son perceives that his mother will never feel the same way about him no matter how hard he tries.

A mother's bitter, angry or resentful attitude is equally as damaging to a son's sense of self-esteem and will ultimately have an effect on his relationships with other women. Mothers who hold onto negative attitudes about men are inadvertently projecting these attitudes onto their sons. Boys think that their mothers feel the same way about them as they do about other men and go to great lengths to counter any negativity for fear of losing the maternal love that they cherish.

A case in point: Mikey's mother and father fostered a deteriorating marriage for a number of years "for the sake of the kids", all the while intense anger, bitterness and resentment were building on both sides for various reasons. During these emotionally charged years, Mikey's mother disclosed her feelings about his father to him oftentimes at the breakfast table. Largely to fulfill her own malnourished emotional needs, she would confide in Mikey about how his father hurt her. The marriage finally ended in divorce. Mikey blamed his father probably because he was subtly coerced into identifying with his mother's pain and did not consider any emotional distress that his father may have been going through. Years after the divorce, Mikey, as an adult, found himself still catering to his mother's every whim and seeing her very much as a victim of abuse by his father. In reality, enough time had gone by for Mikey's mom to heal emotionally and perhaps even re-marry but to her unconscious mind that would mean relinquishing the hold she had on her children. Mikey is completely unaware of his fear that his mother will feel the same about him as she feels about his father, so he continues to coddle her, much to the chagrin of his new wife who doesn't see Mikey's mom as a victim but as a manipulator. Mom keeps her negative attitudes alive in Mikey's mind by strategically reminding him of his father's past bad deeds, mostly around the breakfast table.

Another mistake that mothers make

As seen in the above scenario, making your emotionally immature son your confidant puts a burden on him that is difficult for him to shoulder. When a son sees his mother in pain, he feels like he needs to take matters into his own hands and "fix" the situation. As his mother leans on him emotionally, she is reinforcing his perception of himself as somebody that must be leaned upon in order to have purpose in life. In his future relationships, this causes him to build resentment for his wife if she does not display the emotionally deficient and needy qualities of his mother.

Becoming Aware

Mothering your children in a loving way involves taking conscious inventory of your personal beliefs and attitudes. A boy's world view, in particular, is profoundly shaped by what his mother demonstrates in rearing him day by day and year after year. Your son will learn to love and respect other people, most importantly his wife, by modeling after you.

"Men are what mother's made them". Ralph Waldo Emerson