Monday, July 5, 2010


"Napoleaon Bonaparte, with all his self-reliance and personal independence of character, never ceased to look up to his mother with a reverent affection, and he was accustomed to say that he owed all that he was, and all that he had, to her character and loving care. 'Ah, what a woman! Where shall we look for her equal?' he said of her. 'She watched over us with a solicitude unexampled. Every low sentiment, every ungenerous affection, was discouraged and discarded. She suffered nothing but that which was grand and elevated to take root in our youthful understandings. . . .Losses, privations, fatigue, had no effect on her. She endured all, braved all. She had the energy of a man combined with the greatness and delicacy of a woman."
"Hints on Child Training: H Clay Trumball.

In preparing for this post on What a Son Needs from His Mum, my search to find a quote which modelled an inspiring mother-son relationship, proved to be a huge difficulty. This description of how Napoleon viewed his relationship with his mother is a good place to start. Although written over two hundred years ago the comments are relevant today.

Napoleon was a man of incredible character and charisma, "self reliant" and had "personal independence" - these are traits most mums today would love their sons to possess. Mrs Bonaparte is declared as the one who caused this to come about. We're told she diligently kept her children's poor behaviour, thoughts and actions in check - "discouraged and discarded" them. She saw the matter through rather like digging the weeds out of the garden. then she planted "that which was grand and elevated to take root in our youthful understandings". She must have had particular attitudes and habits which she spent many many hours working at with her children till they became a part of their nature. Regardless of what difficulties, exhaustion or hurt were hers, she was commited to her children.

How diligently are you working at preparing your son for his future?

Dr William Pollack says, "Far from making boys weaker, the love of a mother can and does actually make boys stronger, emotionally and psychologically. Far from making boys dependent, the base of safety a loving mother can create - a connection that her son can rely on all his life - provides a boy with the courage to explore the outside world. But most importantly, far from making a boy act in 'girl-like' ways, a loving mother actually plays an integral role in helping a boy develop his masculinity.

Harvard University researchers agree. Their findings have been that there is a rise in the number of " 'less macho' young male adults. . . .'sensitive new-age guys (SNAGS)'. Young males . . . appear to have better health, more success in chosen careers and were able to maintain respectful relationships once reaching maturity." The study mentioned that at a time where increasingly mums are parenting solo-style, this is an unexpected find. They said sons who went through childhood and adolescence with affection shown to them by their mothers, went into adulthood more easily. Sons who had mums who "supressed their emotions or expressed them through anger or frustration" during their childhood and adolescent years, had far greater trouble adjusting to adulthood. Troubles from violent crime to "signs of depression, anger and a deep resentment for women in general" were highly probable.

Gregory E Lang, in his book "Why a Son Needs a Mom", talks of the closeness of relationship between mum and sons from birth through childhood, as being a "reservoir" out of which he later "draws memories and affection" which affects his own fathering. the warmth and security he experiences as a boy with his mum, teaches him confidence, acceptance of others and the development of expressing his own ideas and feelings.

Pollack adds that sons learn self respect from mums who provide this loving, secure "home base for him".

"10 Things Mothers Should Teach Their Sons". by Lilsugar.
1. To express his emotions - bottling them up eventually makes a person
2. To say 'Ladies First' - holding the door open for a women.
3. Put the toilet seat down after he pees.
Learn to cook and do the laundry.
4. To throw himself into his passions - sport, the arts, writing, dance....
5. Even the biggest fight should be settled with the mind rather than fists.
6. That not following the group doesn't make him a loser, but a leader.
7. To stick up for the under dog even if it mean he becomes an outcast.
8. That he has the power to make an amazing difference in life.
9. To worry less about mum being proud of him and more about having pride in
10. Smiles are free so be generous with them.
I would add a few more to the list :~
11. How to cook to survive and beyond - to bring pleasure to others.
12. How to buy, wash and dry their own clothes.
13. How to care for himself - personal hygene...
14. How to tidy and clean his room and eventually a house.
15. How to organize his time and to prioritize.
16. How to behave as a gentleman - when he eats, some table manners, posture,
the way he speaks to people (paricularly when stressed or angry).
17. How to respectfully treat women (if mum doesn't help sons here, he will
copy the poor models movies demonstrate).
18. That it's acceptable as a boy to be interested and even pursue careers in the
arts - dance, writers, artists, actors, models, fashion designers... or areas
traditionally thought reserved for girls - nursing, preschool teaching.... The
point is to pursue their interests.

At this point if you want a rest from reading and feel like laughing, click here on Why Boys Need their Moms

In "Child Development" March/April 2010 issue, results of 69 studies involving over 6,000 children were released, establishing a link between school-aged misbehaviour in boys and poor son-parent relationships in their preschool years. These poor relationships were with either mothers or father. I wanted to include this information to draw attention to the fact that it is crucial for boys to experience and know the love of their parents in their preschool years. The books "The Five Love Languages of Children" by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell and "How to Really Love Your Child" by Ross Campbell, are both excellent books to get practical advice on loving children.

How does a mum 'build' a growing boy who trust people, is prepared to face challenges and moves easily into the world around him?
Let's start at the beginning.

As stated, little boys need LOTS of love, care attention, fun, laughter. . .
They need to be introduced to lots of great experiences of life ~ eating food from different countries ~ meeting people and playing with children of different cultures and ages ~ meeting and learning to talk with elderly people and learning to appreciate and respect them
~ experiencing exciting play equipment to feel the thrill of moving fast or dangeling upside down.... ~ the start of learning appropriate safety care ~ the beginnings of learning to be responsible in small ways and obeying mum.
Discipling must begin at this age by mum. There is a lot of confusion about what discipline is. The two books mentioned above give an excellent, clear and truthful picture of discipline. Preschool boys need consistent, clear discipline - never harsh. "The best discipline is built on a child's love for his parents and his wish to please. If that impulse is respected and cultivated, children will continue to be psychologically accessible through their love and respect. If they are unduly shamed, harshly punished, or encounter excessive adult anger, they will soon react to authority with resistance rather than a desire to do better." Michael Thompson Phd and Don Kindlon Phd: "Raising Cain:Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys".

WHAT DO BOYS NEED FROM MUM? (5 - 12 years)
This is another stage where they need lots of love from mum. Again I recommend the two book mentioned above for your help.
Mums need to start teaching skills that her son will need in later life (see the "10 Things Mothers Should Teach Their Sons" and my 8 extra ones, above). All men may not practice all these skills as adults, but many will flat or have to run their own lives at some point in life, and if they have the skills they are equipped to live.
School aged boys need to continue experiencing challenging activities, learning how to safely take risks, think through consequences and learn more about being responsible, and obeying mum. At some point in this age group dad will need to be the main one involved in these physical play areas because of the physical demands and also because sons need increasing physical play with dad as they grow older.
Mum can be the instigator of activities like - real camping, tough style sport and activities where the object is for the boys to get covered in mud.
Boys from five years on are 'wired' with the need to burn up energy at regular intervals. They need places where they can easily release this excess energy. Sport and games are great for this. Extreme physical activities are attractive to some and must be gradually taught, stepping up the difficulty slowly. In the past boys of this age went to Scouts for this very purpose. These activities can develop athletic skills, leadership skills and team skills.
Even getting hurt, breaking an arm, is a helpful experience in growing up years - to learn consequences, what pain is and recovery, sympathy and empathy for others.
Boys need to know and feel they belong and are a meaningful part of the family.
It's important they see mum living the life we want for them - like Napoleon's mum.
Let them make mistakes and encourage them to see this as normal.
Why are boys rude to mums? Sometimes it is that mum is too lenient, or is not clear with what is expected, or she is controlling him (see Week 15 Quote 15 on Controlling Mums), or he feels she doesn't respect him. The biggest reason for rudeness is a lack of love, and the remedy for rudeness is to love them. Again refer to the two books recommended above. The same goes for boys whining or giving the silent treatment to mum.
Mums need to create happy memories with their son from an early age so that if tough times come, there is a big pile of good memories of connection to balance things out.
The big, wide world through internet, movies, TV and friends is beckoning boys, and without maturing discernment they can not assess them properly. Mums must help equip them to do this and move successfully ahead.

Mums need to give them privacy, respect their choices and allow them to live with the consequences of their choices. Don't be tempted to pick up for them.
Continue to teach them skills for later life ("10 Things Mothers Should Teach Their Sons" plus my 8 extra ones). The method used in teaching must be clear/to the point/ brief/then step out of the way/ give them the opportunity and ownership to personally do it/ respect them.
Mums must not meddle, but if your son asks for help, support them just till they can take the control again.
Mum, DON'T take over
. This is where mums often get it wrong. If we are hoping our sons will grow into mature, independent thinking men, then we must not dominate.
Teenage boys like things to be direct. They want and need to be respected by mum. As women need to be loved, men need to be respected - and teenage boys see themselves as men.
Teenage boys still need lots of love. See the two books recommended above. Most teenage boys prefer mum to be subtle with her affections, not demonstrative, but your son may be different and that's fine.
Puberty for boys can be awkward and confusing, so mum can help give confidence by treating them no longer as a child but as a young man.
Mum needs to help teenage boys remain optimistic, see the funny side of life, to not take unimportant things too seriously. Mum needs to help them have a balanced view of life ~ a time to work hard
~ a time to stop and relax
~ a time to pitch in and help within the family
~ a time to pursue a passion or dream.....
Teenage boys need to know from their mum's, what qualities women and girls look for in guys - kindness, a sense of humor, trustworthiness....
Often boys in their teens can be disrespectful or look down on their dads. so mum needs to encourage a positive, fairview of dad from sons.
Teenage boys feel more comfortable to talk when doing something - driving or doing the dishes...
Maybe you would like to write a letter to your son on an important occasion - he would possibly receive your personal comments easier through this method, and you may feel freer to express your feelings to him by letter.
The last thing teenage boys need mums to help them with, is to see emotional courage modelled out in life today by people they know around them, preferably. Men, women, children showing courage will help teenage boys to develop empathy and prevent them from becoming self absorbed.

Years ago in a doctor's waiting room I remember reading an article about a woman who had three sons. Each son was very different in his interests, but from the time each had finished school, the mum had made it a priority to learn alongside them. One worked with earth moving equipment and ended up owning his own company in the industry. She read about earth moving machines, talked to local people who also work in this industry, and then she could knowledgeably have a conversation understanding her son's work. A second son was in scientific research and as he studied his mum did exactly the same thing, so she could communicate with him understanding his work. What the third son did I can't remember, but the mum's point was to keep connection through understanding with her sons working lives.
Once a son is an adult he still needs love and respect from his mum - but at a distance. Why? Because he is an adult man and no longer a child. This relationship has been continually changing because it has been preparing for complete independence from mum. Mum has been increasingly letting go through the teenage years so that now as an adult it is complete. The target mum was heading for was to equip her son for life, for this 'separation'.
Some mums have a lot of difficulty with this separation/ letting go. Other mums let go but feel a deep sorrow or rejection at this point in their life. I think it helps to look clearly at the life of your son and enjoy his maturity, success and ongoing development - this really is a thrill. The job was worth it!
In a review of the movie "What's Eating Gilbert Grape", a writer wrote, "A lot of the journey in terms of Gilbert's relationship with his mother is about where he ends up". This is how it is with all mum-son relationships - where it ends up for the the son, and where it ends up for the mum.
The son can end up being mature, well adjusted, outgoing, self reliant, involved with people's lives....and holding a respect, value and love for his mum, like Napoleon did. Or he can end up in trouble with the community and within himself, or be unable to look after himself let alone be a contribution to other's lives....and with little or no respect, value and love for his mum, making the choice to distance himself from her.
The mum can end up being satisfied with what her son is as a person and his life and confidently still have a health connection with him, while retaining having 'let him go'. Or she can end up still trying to instruct and direct him in what he needs to do, and receive no thanks, time or genuine contact with her son, feeling rejected and unknown by him.

Little boys ----- Boys ------ Teenage sons ------ Adult sons.
If you are at the beginning with your son, the choice is still yours, mum. If your sons are in process, get going and make some changes now, mum.
Don't fall into the habit trap described in Rob Kemp's funny but true and disastrously sad article Rob Kemp The result of such a lifestyle is unhappy and incompetent men, who continue to hand their pathetic-like behaviour on to future generations.

THISWEEKWITHTHEKIDS ~ the boys are all yours, mum. "She had the energy of a man combined with the greatness and delicacy of a woman". Napoloen