Recently I had the opportunity to speak with a large group of young teens. At one point we were talking about parents and kids and I asked them to say what came to mind when they thought of the phrase “Daddy’s girl”. The responses were things like cute, endearing, not as desirable as being a soccer star or prom queen, but generally positive. I then asked them what came to mind when they thought of the phrase “Mama’s boy”. The nervous giggles from the girls and the horrified faces of the boys told the tale. Yet Mama’s boy is the exact mirror relationship to Daddy’s girl. We talked about how boy’s attachment to their mothers can be stigmatized at a very young age, and how unfair this is to boys. Well-meaning parents can easily buy into the idea that Moms should detach from their sons, assuming closeness will prevent them growing up to “be men”.
In fact, research on families does not bear this out, but rather that boys who maintain a secure attachment to their mothers grow up to be stronger, less vulnerable, and more confident. For a boy or teen to feel he has lost the love and support of his mother is a significant loss, and one that can be re-enacted in his adult relationships with women. Let’s not perpetuate this outmoded and destructive idea on the boys and young men in our lives!