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Mother and Son Relationships: Part One

By Elisabetta Franzoso, Life Coach, Counsellor, Speaker, Trainer, Author & Social Activist at InsideOutYou Coaching & Training. Why they are important and how it affects your intimacy, sexuality and emotional intelligence. “Elisabetta, do you know something? All men are screwed up by their moms,” My mentor, a highly experienced clinical psychologist recently told me. It’s a bold statement […]

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By Elisabetta Franzoso, Life Coach, Counsellor, Speaker, Trainer, Author & Social Activist at InsideOutYou Coaching & Training.


Why they are important and how it affects your intimacy, sexuality and emotional intelligence.

“Elisabetta, do you know something? All men are screwed up by their moms,” My mentor, a highly experienced clinical psychologist recently told me. It’s a bold statement but not an uncommon one in the field of psychology.

John Whittington, a UK-based personal development coach, echoes this viewpoint: “The relationship a man has with his mother is the birth of his relationship with his life, his sex life and his leadership authority. Men are born of women and bond first with their mother. This is a powerful experience for mother and son and can overwhelm and entangle both.”

I have always been curious about men’s attitudes and their origins and recently was inspired to pose a challenging question to friends and clients: “Why do men hardly ever choose strong women as their partner?” I spoke to men across a range of ages, cultures and backgrounds and largely the answers fell into two categories. Men who felt strong women pushed them too far out of their comfort zone (an effort they didn’t want to go to) and men who felt these women were too judgemental.

This reminded me of a quote from John Gray’s famed: Men Are From Mars And Women From Venus: “Generally speaking when a woman offers unsolicited advice or tries to help a man, she has no idea of how critical and unloving she may sound to him.” 

As a counsellor and coach, I’m aware that a positive or negative mom and son relationship can unconsciously reappear in romantic relationships. In my first book, Stella’s Mother Gets Her Groove Back – A True Story, I discussed the concept that we ‘marry our parents’ and the spousal accusation: “You are just like my mother or father.” Often a strong woman might remind a man of his dominant mom or vice versa.

THE BASICS OF OPPOSITE-SEX RELATIONSHIPS

A mom’s loving support and nurturing are essential to a son as much as a father is to his daughter. The major difference? The sex and energy involved. Daughters and sons are wired in very different ways and their needs and wants are very different. A mom cannot think about relating to her son in the same way she can think about relating to her daughter. 

Much like how fathers have an impact on daughters (link), moms play a significant role in the life of their sons. Men see their mom as a female role model and their choice of life partners will depend upon how they were allowed to express, develop and build self-esteem in childhood.

From birth into adulthood, a boy nurtures a deep-rooted bond with his mom and this relationship is imperative for his overall development as well as his emotional and intellectual health. This is why, after many years as coach and counsellor, I don’t agree with the statement: “No one understands a boy better than his mom.”

THE PROBLEMS THAT ARISE BETWEEN MOTHERS AND SONS 

The relationship between a mom and her son can become very challenging. When this occurs, it can leave destruction in its path. Unhealthy mom-son relationships can cripple both parties and affect all others in the surrounding relationships. How a mom influences her male child normally depends on how close the relationship she creates with him is. 

If a man is too close to his mom, he could be labelled a mommy’s boy and if he is not close enough, he might be judged for ignoring his mom’s love. There is a line between being close and too close. From my experience, some moms and sons often go over that line which in turn impacts the son’s relationship with adult women.

HOW A MOTHER-SON RELATIONSHIP IMPACTS MEN’S’ RELATIONSHIPS IN ADULTHOOD

The way men act and react towards their mom is often the same way they will act and react towards their future spouse or partner. This can play out in a number of ways. 

“Men who are overwhelmed by the feminine and get caught in this dynamic may often turn into ‘macho men’ who are on a private mission to conquer the power of the feminine energy through multiple sexual relationships. They may combine this with loud and aggressive behaviour,” John Whittington wrote. This ‘macho’ culture can be clearly seen in Latin and Mediterranean countries where mothers tend to have a somewhat intense presence. 

As John Whittington explains: “At the other end of a spectrum are sons who have little masculine energy, little sense of themselves as men. These men may also often struggle to take care of themselves as they are caught up in taking care of their mom at a psychological, emotional and practical level. Relationships with other women are limited as the man’s attention is focused on his mom. He has become a ‘surrogate spouse’ and mom always has first place, so he has little room for closeness or intimacy with another. No one else can measure up to mom.”

HOW CAN A MOTHER DECIDE HOW CLOSE SHE SHOULD BE WITH HER SON? 

I believe the first step is about building self-awareness and educating ourselves. For example, ask yourself: what kind of mom am I and what kind of mom would I love to be? 

Often moms have a hard time letting go of their sons because of their very deep bond. I recommend moms provide a secure base from which the son can develop and grow but at the same time learn to start letting him freely explore his own world.

“Some mothers are not able to be in close contact with their sons due to their own systemic distractions, entanglements and traumas. Others are kept at a distance by their sons in punishment for something they think she has done wrong, someway she has failed them. This can occur when trust is suddenly broken for example. The distance between mother and son may be embodied, internalised in an inner ‘life sentence’ for the boy who grows to become an adult. These ‘life sentences’ limit the man’s ability to function, partner and love,” John Whittington writes. 

FIXING A BROKEN MOTHER-SON BOND

The perfect mom and son relationship doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, I have met many men in my profession who believe the contrary. They still crave that mom they never had. They are stuck in the past and what they felt they have missed out on. They remain attached to a fantasy and continue to judge their mom as not good enough. This leads to a fractured family, mental health issues and challenges within intimacy and building relationships. 

STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO FIX A BROKEN MOTHER-SON BOND:

  1. Recognise you might need help. Become aware, take responsibility and action
  2. Seek counselling or coaching. Sharing your concerns with an objective third person can offer an unbiased solution to the problem
  3. Be sincere. Let your son or mom know that it was not their fault and there are no hard feelings. You just want to resolve the unresolved in order to build healthy relationships and be mentally and emotionally free from any toxic baggage and its negative consequences. 
  4. Share your emotions. Reassure your son or mom that you love them and will always be there for them.
  5. Be patient and persistent. Give your son or mom space and time to accept reality.
  6. Be open, curious and trust

If what I’ve written has resonated with you and you think I could be the right support for you, feel free to get in touch and schedule a Free 30 Minute Consultation by clicking the button below.


This blog post is categorised in the Relational Dimension. To view blog posts based on the 4 dimensions click the links below:

Relational Dimension

Physical Dimension

Emotional Dimension

Intellectual Dimension


► Elisabetta Franzoso is a multi continental Life and Wellness Coach practicing between Barcelona, London, Milan and Singapore where she has many loyal clients.

► Elisabetta empowers men and women to master their mind, body and personal relationships through renewing their confidence and building a sense of wellness. She does this through her unique Coaching In 4 Dimensions framework which takes into account the physical, emotional, intellectual and relational aspects of humanity.

► Elisabetta will inspire you to live the life you want to live, maximise your potential and achieve self mastery. Aside from coaching, Elisabetta is a passionate social activist and spokesperson against abuse.

► Elisabetta has been featured extensively across international and UK press including Thrive Global, Grazia Magazine, Breathe Magazine and Health & Wellbeing Magazine. Stay up to date with Elisabetta at instagram.com/elisabettafranzoso and www.elisabettafranzoso.com


REFERENCES 

– John Whittington: lifeloveleadership.com/men-and-their-mothers

– John Gray: Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus

– Elisabetta Franzoso: Stella’s Mum Gets Her Groove Back – A True Story  ( Kindle link …)

– Emerson Eggerichs: Mother and Son: The Respect Effect 

– Steve Biddulph: The New Manhood: The Handbook for a New Kind of Man 

– J.R. Bruns, M.D – R.A.Richards II – The Tiger Wood Syndrome – When men Prowl and how to not become the Prey.

– Lundy Bancroft: Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men

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