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					Mothers and Adolescent Sons

   The unique role of a mother in the
   life of her adolescent son



 Suzanne M. Haynes M.S.
 248.470.9615
 smhpsych@hotmail.com
Overview

    Gender role history
    Mother/son relationship
    Changes in adolescence
    A mother’s unique role
    Reading recommendations
Fifty years of change in how we
define gender roles
    Until 1960s: Yeah, Men! Women were dependent

    ‘70-’80s: Yeah, Women! Women were independent

    ‘90s: Understanding and appreciating differences

 21st Century: Gender-specific qualities have value –
 We can share power and develop interdependence

       These social transitions have been rapid and
          confusing at times for men and women.
Effects of these changes

 These changes have brought intense focus on:


    Mother/Daughter Relationship

    Father/Son Relationship

    Father/Daughter Relationship
What about the Mother/Son relationship?

   How can strong informed mothers best prepare their
    sons for adulthood in the modern world?

   What unique role does a mother play in her son’s life?

   How does a mother guide her son to be:
     Strong but sensitive
     Tough but emotionally available
     Understanding of himself and others
     Able to face the myriad temptations in the world
      around him
In the beginning…

    A boy’s first love is his mother

    “As a baby, your son will always be looking for his
     mother’s face…”

    Freud was right! He really does want to marry you

    As his mother, you are all important
A mother’s unique role is to…
   Keep track of her son’s emotional well-being

   Provide love, affection, safety, security and comfort

   Be the emotional home base for her son, and be at the
    center of a circle that expands as he matures

   Help him be aware of his own feelings and provides a
    safe place to experience those feelings

    A boy loves to capture the attention of his mother:
                the swimming pool effect
Special Qualities of Boys

    Warm                       Physical
    Receptive                  High activity level
    Spontaneous   …and…        Demonstrative
    Playful                    Noisy

 A mother who has not been raised around boys
 herself, may find some of these qualities extreme,
 even alarming, and may mistake them for
 abnormal behavior patterns.
Boys’ play is typically
     Rambunctious

     Physically interactive

     Involving pretend aggression

     Themed around competition, speed, combat,
      power

     Like “a box of puppies”
Then adolescence hits

 Emerging adolescence can…

    Seem sudden

    Be confusing to both you and your teen

    Bring about physical, emotional and psychological
     changes
Teen girls differ from teen boys:

  Girls                     Boys
   Argumentative            Brooding
   Sassy                    Edgy
   Confrontational          Distant
   Hyper-emotional          Withdrawn
   A strong desire to be    Hard to “reach”
    different from their
    mothers                 …so, why is he putting
                             up this wall?
…adolescent boys must strive for
independence
 As a consequence, a teen boy will:
  Mask or conceal his attachment to his mother
  Feel ambivalent and embarrassed by his
   continuing tender feelings for his mother
  Push away from the warmth and security of his
   childhood

   This may be normal, but it is often a painful
         process for both mother and son
A mother’s instinctive reaction

  As a mother, you naturally attempt to reestablish
  closeness with your son. But his reaction can be…

     Feelings of confrontation and intrusion
     Flashes of anger followed by withdrawal

  Withdrawal is his defense against an internal state
  of intense physical arousal that he must suppress
  because he does not want to respond with
  aggression toward his mother
Remember…

   Despite this appearance, your son continues to
    look to you for guidance, understanding and
    support
   You are still your adolescent son’s emotional home
    base
   Do not take the changes in your relationship
    personally
   These changes are normal--perhaps necessary--
    for him to achieve adult maturity

            But what is a mother to do???
A teen boy needs his mom to:

    Listen
    Advise
    Parent authoritatively
    Provide vigilant trust
    Offer tender affection
    Establish a “code of conduct”
    Be the Ambassador of Women
Listen: Be a big ear

    Timing is everything
    Be patient
    Signal full attention
    Ask for clarification
    Remember that listening to him is more important
     than solving his problems
    If he is unwilling to talk, remind him that you are
     there when he’s ready
Advice follows listening

    Good listening builds trust and comfort between
     you and your son
    He is much more likely to be receptive to your
     advice after you have patiently listened to him
    Offer advice in the form of a question:
       “Have you thought about this possibility?”
       “What would happen if you did this?”
       “What is your best judgment on this?”
Authoritative parenting

    High support and understanding + high expectations
     and demands
    The Gold Standard of Parenting
    Reinforces increasing degrees of responsibility for
     himself
    Is associated with:
        Higher school grades, higher self-esteem and self-reliance
        Lower drug/alcohol usage and delinquent behavior
        Lowered risk of anxiety/depression
An authoritative mother:

  Maintains self-confidence as a parenting authority
  Lets her son do as much as he can for himself
  Provides the healthy burden of positive expectations
  Reminds her son that he is an important member of
   the family and encourages his participation
  Encourages her son’s individuality and allows him to
   disagree without losing her affection
  Sets consequences for his wrongdoings that teach a
   lesson rather than punish
Vigilant trust*

    Be aware of the social environment
    Discuss expectations of behavior
    Listen to ideas
    Set guidelines
    Trust but remain vigilant
    Monitor behavior
    Give consequences if trust is broken - and it will be!
    Reinstate trust

  *See Strong Mother’s, Strong Sons in “Recommended Reading”
Offer tender affection

It can be awkward because:
   The physical changes of adolescence can make you
    and your son uncomfortable with affection
   Some teen boys shun physical affection because it
    reminds them of their childhood vulnerabilities

Teen boys still need affection and tactile reassurance
   Find ways to remind one another that you can still be
    comfortable with physical affection with well-timed hugs
    and kisses
   Warm, non-sexual physical closeness balances male
    aggression and prepares the teen boy for physical
    closeness in his adult relationships
Code of Conduct

It is often a mother who determines and maintains
standards of social behavior in and out of the home:

      Model the behavior you want to see
      Let him know how you expect him to behave
      Acknowledge that you have begun to relinquish control
      Let him hear what offends you
      Remind him of how others are affected by his behavior
      Insist on fair play, safety and mutual respect
Mother as the Ambassador of Women

    Sensitize your son to respect girls and women
    Make expectations for how your son treats females
    Counteract the often crude and vulgar portrayal of women in
     the media
    Communicate that abstinence and postponement of sexual
     behavior is better than acting too soon
    Teach that sex should be associated with love, respect and
     commitment rather than dominance or aggression
    Inform your son that girls typically associate sexual
     involvement with emotional intimacy which requires maturity
     and mutual understanding
Remember that…


    “As a baby, your son was always
      looking for his mother’s face…

      …it will be that way forever”
Recommended Reading
    Raising Cain: Protecting the Emotional Life of Boys
     (2000) by Dan Kindlon, Ph.D., and Michael Thompson,
     Ph.D.

    Strong Mothers, Strong Sons (1995) by Ann F. Caron,
     Ed.D.

    Get Out Of My Life, But First Could You Drive Me and
     Cheryl To The Mall (2002) by Anthony Wolf, Ph.D.
Presented by:

 Suzanne M. Haynes, M.S.
 Individual and Couple Psychotherapy
 Parenting Consultation

 36700 Woodward Ave. - Suite 30
 Bloomfield Hills, MI
 248.470.9615
 smhpsych@hotmail.com

				
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