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Wall Street Journal on Mama’s Boys

February 26, 2012

Perhaps you do not think of the Wall Street Journal as a source of parenting advice, but it runs an unusually large number of parenting articles.

It was, of course, the Wall Street Journal that first published an excerpt of Amy Chua’s now-infamous Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.

But yesterday, the Wall Street Journal really went out on a limb, publishing an excerpt of Kate Stone Lombardi’s new book on The Mama’s Boy’s Myth.

Here is just a little bit from her article:

mama's boyMy daughter Jeanie and I use Google chat throughout the day to discuss work, what we had for lunch, how we’re avoiding the gym, and emotional issues big and small. We may also catch up by phone in the evening. I can open up to Jeanie about certain things that I wouldn’t share with another soul, and I believe she would say the same about me. We are very close, which you probably won’t find particularly surprising or alarming.

Now switch genders. Suppose I told you that I am very close to my son, Paul. That I love hanging out with him and that we have dozens of inside jokes and shared traditions. Even though we speak frequently, I get a little thrill each time I hear his signature ringtone on my cellphone. Next, I confess that Paul is so sensitive and intuitive that he “gets me” in a very special way.

Are you starting to speculate that something is a little off? Are you getting uncomfortable about the kind of guy my son is growing up to be? […]

Boys need and want a close connection with their mothers. But the pressure for mothers and sons to disengage begins at a shockingly tender age (one mother I know who was comforting her weeping 3-year-old was told that he should “man up”), and the pressure escalates at every stage, until a mom actually begins to believe that the best kind of parenting that she can offer is to leave her depressed, silent teenage son alone to work out his own problems. Heaven forbid that she threatens his masculinity by giving him a hug and trying to get him to talk about what’s bothering him!

Ouch!  “Uncomfortable” was definitely the right word for Lombardi to use here.  Do you think that Lombardi will suffer the fate of Chua – becoming the butt of a thousand jokes?


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