Booking It: The Mama’s Boy Myth

I just started reading The Mama’s Boy Myth, and I’m enjoying it so far. It has given me a lot to think about in raising girls as well as boys. What kind of preconceived notions do I have about boys vs. girls? How are my thoughts and expectations shaped by my own experience and by the culture I live in and how do my experiences compare to my expectations?

This passage from the book stood out to me and I thought I’d share it:

“Somehow, throughout this momentous social upheaval [the feminist revolution], our view of the mother-son relationship has remained curiously and stubbornly stagnant. We have certainly changed the way we raise our daughters, encouraging them to be assertive, play competitive sports, and shoot for the stars when it comes to their educational and professional ambitions. We don’t worry that we are raising our little girls to be boys; we believe we are offering our daughters an opportunity to reach their full potential. But what about our sons? It is as if the feminist revolution sputtered out when it came to expanding the possibilities for boys, and especially for how their mothers might relate to them. The mother-son relationship is still largely seen through a prism that ignores the tidal wave of change that has otherwise transformed our society. We’re hanging on to an old narrative that no longer describes our reality.”

As I mentioned before, it never crossed my mind to try not to raise “mama’s boys” and I’ve never felt any pressure to cut the apron strings. Not yet, anyway. And as I try to imagine what it will be like to have a daughter, I’m totally unsure of what to picture: “best friends”? A princess or drama queen? A little mama? And maybe that blank space in my expectations is for the best. I keep coming back to a conversation I had with a friend a few weeks ago in which she said that what children need most is to be loved. How I do that as their mother should depend on the child and his or her particular needs and not on expectations based on gender or culture.

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