What is Up With Mama's Boys?

Great guys love their mothers. They adore them, cherish them, and appreciate them.

This is a fabulous thing. Guys who have great relationships with their mothers often make for fabulous husbands!

There are however those guys who are so attached to their mothers that they are unable to have a normal, mature emotionally healthy relationship with a woman.

What is going on?
Why do some men seem unable to move from a dependent boy to a grown adult? Why are some men, "Mama's boys"?

In healthy homes, children grow up feeling unconditionally loved. They know their parents love and care for them. When these children make mistakes, they may feel their parents are disappointed but they do not feel the love of their parents is in jeopardy.

In some homes, a boy may grow up feeling his mother's approval and love is very conditional. These boys don't ever feel really loved and accepted, and constantly and continually try to gain this love. These boys often work hard trying to please their demanding mothers, doing everything they can to be a "good boy" so their mothers will love them.

While obviously most children want to please their parents, the unhealthiness comes in when love is only given when a child is pleasing; when parental love and care are dependent on a child's "appropriate behavior", and when a mother's demands are about her needs being satisfied.

In the case of "Mama's boys", boys grow up, never feeling true mother's love, yet continually striving for it. In order to feel their mother's love, they must continually cater to her, please her, and above all, never cross her or show disagreement or disobedience.

Now if a guy is single, this may be an unhealthy dynamic but it doesn't necessarily create huge problems. The problems often arise when a "Mama's boy" wants to have a mature relationship. His need to please his controlling and unaccepted mother may conflict with a healthy, mature relationship.

Which brings us to the core of the problem.

A man who was raised by a controlling and unaccepting mother will most likely never receive the unconditional love he seeks from her. As difficult as this is to accept it is the reality. He may spend his life trying to please her, cater to her, and fulfill her every demand and still, his dream of acceptance from his mother will elude him.

For a "Mama's boy" to have a mature and healthy loving relationship with a woman, he needs to accept the fact that his mother most likely will not change, and he needs to set new boundaries.

For a marriage to be successful and respectful, both partners must put the needs of their relationship and each other over the futile attempt to please a demanding and controlling parent.

A relationship will not survive if a man is more concerned with pleasing his domineering mother than he is nourishing his relationship and supporting his wife.

This doesn't mean a man should not respect and honor his mother. Of course as adult children we want to care for our parents and loved ones. It does mean that, as we become adults our relationships change, grow, and mature.

Mother's who continually demand a grown son's unending and exclusive devotion, will continue to do so until the son realizes the unhealthiness of the relationship and clearly decides to create a mutually respectful one.
It is not always easy. In fact, letting go of the dream for unconditional love from a mother is not easy for those sons who have spent a lifetime trying to gain approval. Yet, it is necessary for a normal healthy long-term intimate relationship.