Posted On December 16, 2009 by Print This Post

Wayne Wednesday: Moms and their Sons

Good morning and welcome to Wayne Wednesday.  Last month Wayne’s post touched on how fathers can help a boy’s emotional well-being.  But what about the moms?  How can a boy’s mother help him to grow into a better man?  We asked Wayne for a few tips on this topic.

Take it away, Wayne!

Adrienne: We’ve talked about fathers spending time with their sons in order to raise happy, healthy boys.  What can moms do?

Wayne-SpeakingCropWayne: Like dads, moms have the opportunity to teach their sons life’s most important lessons about values, ethics, integrity, relationships, self-worth, joy, faith, etc.

Our fathers teach us what it means to be a man, how to respect women, how a man makes decisions, how a man honors his commitments, how a man responds to challenges, etc. In large part, we grow up to be men much like our dads.

Our moms teach us what a woman is. We learn from her what women are like, how they behave, what makes them happy, sad and angry, what the love of a woman looks and feels like. We learn how women feel about men, and the value women place on having men in their lives. And in large part, we grow up to marry women much like our moms.

As a couple, our parents teach us what a marriage is, how men and women work together, solve their problems, how they love each other, the value of family, ritual and faith, and so much more. And, once again, in large part, we’ll create relationships much like our parents’.

How a mom sees the world will impact the way her son sees the world. Her attitudes about life, love and men—to name just a few—will help to shape his views, attitudes, and judgments.

So it’s pretty clear the immense influence moms have in developing their young men. You’ve all had experiences with your parents, and you’ve seen your brothers or friends become men at the hands of their parents. What have you seen? How have the boys in your life responded to the women who raised them, in terms of the men they’ve become?

Adrienne:  How can moms help when dad and son are disagreeing?  Should we stay out of it?  Intervene?

Wayne: In the moment, stay out! Later, if appropriate, let dad know how it felt for you seeing the interaction. But tread lightly, our egos are quite fragile. We don’t like being made wrong when it comes to fathering…even if we are. So, come from the best loving place you got, and tell him how you feel.

There may be times when it makes sense to have a chat with your son, as well. Mom might be able to teach son a lesson about tolerance or forgiveness. Again, go easy and try not to orchestrate too much. Plant the seeds and let it go. Your men are going to have to figure out how to have their own relationship.

By the way, there’s only room in that house for one head cock. Your son is going to have to move out and settle his own homestead before he gets to rule the roost. Law of the jungle.

Adrienne: What can mom do to support her son’s emotional growth when his father is not present?

Wayne: For single moms, the contribution to a boy’s world vision is extraordinary. He’ll learn to see the world though his mother’s eyes.  What do those eyes see? Is the world a happy, just place, or is it depressing, unfair and hostile?

Does she love men, or is she resentful and bitter in the aftermath of losing her man, either to divorce or death?

A boy needs at least one man in his life, preferably more. A single mom needs to seek out that man if the boy is too young, or incapable, of finding the man himself.  Some boys are quite resourceful and can find mentors in sports, community activities, or down the street. But sometimes mom will have to seek out an uncle, friend or a mentor from an organization like Big Brothers.

The most important thing for single moms to remember is that they are highly qualified to be mom; they are not at all qualified to be dad, no matter how much camping they’re willing to do. The activities, though terrific, are no substitute for the mentoring boys can only get from men.

***

Thank you to Wayne for another great post and for being here today to answer questions.

RU Crew, how many of you are raising boys?  Do you have any tips to share?

Join us on Friday when Theresa Stevens tackles definining the romance genre in her Ask an Editor column.

Wayne’s Bio:  Wayne M. Levine, M.A. is the director of the West Coast Men’s Center in Agoura Hills, CA, where he coaches and mentors men, and facilitates men’s groups. He also created the BetterMen Retreats for men, and for fathers and sons. In addition, Wayne is the founder of BetterMen.org, a life coaching and mentoring resource for men.

Wayne’s interest in men’s issues began in the early ‘90s with his participation in men’s work activities. His experiences with men’s groups, as a participant, leader and program developer, taught Wayne to “father” men and to support them in making difficult and important changes in their lives.

He earned his Master’s in Clinical Psychology from Antioch University/Los Angeles. Wayne also received his BA in journalism and graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Southern California.

Wayne’s been married to his first and only wife, Ria, for over 25 years and is the proud daddy of Emma, Austin and the family’s menagerie of animals.  Wayne strives to be a better man, husband and father each day in Oak Park, CA.

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12 Responses to “Wayne Wednesday: Moms and their Sons”

  1. Wayne –

    As always, welcome!

    Do you have any opinions on how divorce has impacted the men in Generation X? It seems like more of their parents split up than generations in the past (no stats here, just feeling).

    Kelsey (who is now wondering how many ways she’s screwing up her 10-year-old son – :))

    Posted by KelseyBrowning | December 15, 2009, 11:19 pm
    • Hi Kelsey,

      When divorce is acceptable, it continues to be acceptable in future generations. Gen X men have work to do to learn the lessons and to learn what healthy, long-term relationships can look like. Unfortunately, few men seek out that help.

      Posted by Wayne Levine | December 16, 2009, 1:32 pm
  2. Thanks, Wayne. Great post.

    Do you have an opinion on dads raising daughters alone? Are they ill-qualified as mothers are raising their sons?

    Thanks, Tracey

    Posted by Tracey Devlyn | December 16, 2009, 6:40 am
    • Good Morning Tracey,

      Absolutely. I’ve worked with quite a few single dads with daughters. The first and best option is to support the girls’ relationship with their mom. When that’s not possible, the dads need to make great effort to provide the girls with women they can be close with…and not dad’s girlfriends! Eventually, once dad is healed and ready, it’ll be important to provide the girls with a new role model of a strong, loving and stable relationship.

      Posted by Wayne Levine | December 16, 2009, 1:19 pm
  3. Morning Wayne…

    My question is about divorce too….what do you think about stepmothers? My son had a very close relationship with his father until he remarried….now they barely speak. Is there any way to get a father/son relationship back on track?

    carrie

    Posted by carrie | December 16, 2009, 9:56 am
    • I doubt that that true cause of the relationship breakdown is the stepmom.

      Boys can be terribly angry when their parents divorce. It’s up to dad to be patient and insistent that a relationship continue. If dad is weak (guilty, full of shame, afraid of his son,) it’s easy for the relationship to disappear.

      Now, if stepmom is a witch, selfish, demanding and possessive of her new husband’s time, it’s still up to dad to hold on to his N.U.T. (non-negotiable, unalterable terms) and keep that boy in his life. What I’ve seen often is dad being so afraid of losing her that he’s willing to compromise other relationships. Very sad.

      So, it’s up to dad to leave his ego behind and take care of that young man. It may be awkward, but it’s time to schedule some outings, ice creams, batting cage time, whatever. Dad needs to be consistent and patient. A son ABSOLUTELY needs a healthy relationship with his father. There’s no substitute.

      Posted by Wayne Levine | December 16, 2009, 1:27 pm
  4. Thanks, Wayne. What can a divorced mom do when the dad is bad mouthing her to their son? If the mom and dad don’t have a good relationship, how can she keep her son from “buying into” what the dad says about her. I know someone dealing with this and it’s quite traumatic.

    Posted by Adrienne Giordano | December 16, 2009, 10:25 am
    • This happens all of the time to moms and dads. My advice always is to take the high road. Always do what’s best, never sink to the other’s level, get support from other women to stay on track. Eventually, the kids will see what’s happening. Though they’ll love both parents, they’ll come to realize who the healthier parent had been.

      Posted by Wayne Levine | December 16, 2009, 1:29 pm
  5. Raising three sons with my husband.

    Encourage them to talk when they are frustrated or upset. Give them a little space to work through their feelings or get past them, but then make them talk. Because my sons know that I won’t stand for the brooding thing, they talk to me. All the time. I know what they’re thinking, for the most part, and I try to give them perspective when they are out of sorts. I let them know it’s okay to feel whatever they’re feeling, but that they have to learn to handle that constructively, which includes talking and being honest about their feelings.

    Surprise them. Especially when they’re young and developing their sense of gender and gender roles. Do something they associate only with men, something fun and surprising. Get them laughing and thinking about the fact what women can and cannot do.

    Finally, teach them old-school manners. Sure, a lot of these have fallen by the wayside, but there’s nothing wrong with holding a door for a woman, even if she’s used to doing it for herself. (We like that stuff even when we act like we don’t care.) At the same time, let them know that they aren’t to be abused by women–physically or emotionally. Ever. At any age. Every one has equal worth.

    Posted by PatriciaW | December 16, 2009, 2:32 pm
  6. Hi Patricia,

    Amen! You’re the mom I wished had raised me. Fortunate men, all four of them.

    Posted by Wayne Levine | December 16, 2009, 2:43 pm

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