Mother’s Day – All Summer Long

May 9th, 2020 by | Print

“All Summer Long”

“It was 1989, my thoughts were short my hair was long. Caught somewhere between a boy and man …”

– From “All Summer Long” by Kid Rock

The “somewhere between” is one of the most turbulent times a mother will ever face with her teenage son.

Moms and sons share a special bond. Throughout childhood, mothers give of themselves time and time again to meet the emotional, physical, social and intellectual needs of their boys. Then one day, when that magic switch of puberty turns on, a boy’s focus shifts in another direction, and mom can become almost invisible to him. Since the dawn of time, women in every culture have felt this unexpected pushback from their sons. This shift is incredibly annoying and heartbreaking, both at the same time.

While it’s natural and understanding for moms to bend over backwards to regain their emotional connection in a boy’s life, it’s critical to recognize he’s asking for the relationship to change.

Speaking of change, in middle school, everything is changing for a boy — their bodies, their voices, their mysterious attraction to the opposite sex. It’s all evolving, and so must their relationships with mom. Do you know how uncomfortable it is when hormones start raging in a teenage boy? He’s developing into a man (complete with newfound sexual stirrings), yet the primary female relationship in his life is his mother. Can you say awkward?

Of course he’s going to be asking for some distance!

Ladies, when your son starts to spread his wings, you must realize that your role as a mom is shifting. If you can accept your new place in his life, you will save yourself a lot of heartache and can forge something beautiful and rewarding.

Fighting too hard to hang onto the past can cause deep-seated bitterness and long-term resentment in a teenage son. If mom doesn’t give her son adequate space to grow during his manhood transition, feelings of anger and disappointment can develop. This tension can hang around the edges of a mother-son relationship well into adulthood.

It’s important to underscore that moms are crucial in the healthy development and maturation of young men. However, she is the last person a boy wants to learn about “man stuff” from. Moms have extraordinary insights to share, but a ManQuest journey requires active direction from somebody who’s personally been down the same road he’s getting ready to travel.

While moms can offer invaluable perspectives on manhood, they do so only from the vantage point of an outside observer.  

Moms, here’s my best advice for you: As puberty approaches, the wisest thing is to embrace your changing relationship and accept the modified role your son is asking from you. Openly acknowledge to him that you’re glad he’s becoming a man, and that it’s okay for your relationship to grow in new ways. By doing so, you’re honoring his maturity and showing your son you believe in him. Remember, you are still hugely important — but with a different job description.

In How Boys Become Men, Ted Braude says that as long as a boy feels like his mom still “needs him,” he won’t move onto manhood — he will hang out in the shadowy zone between childhood and adulthood. He is torn. He loves mom like crazy but knows he needs something new … and doesn’t know how to express it.

So, in a strange and confusing paradox, he tells you how much he loves you by hurting you.

If your son is making you crazy with his antics, remember that he is afraid of his own developing power, and reacts by bringing fear and destruction to others. In the Boy Code, fear is unacceptable. So he resorts to what he knows works — damage and pain.  He will say and do things, whatever it takes, to get mom to back off.

So what’s a mother to do?

Recognize that your son loves you too much to bluntly tell you he needs something different and so you must be the one who initiates the difficult changes.  Mom needs to demonstrate her strength and position in the relationship. Let him know you are not just there as his servant or domestic help. Anything he can do for himself should be done by him.  Yes, that’s right, ANYTHING. This includes laundry, dishes, packing lunches, etc.

Ultimately, he needs to hear that you feel he is strong and capable and respected. He needs to be encouraged to get out there in the big world and try new things, because you’re his biggest fan. And when your boy gets wounded in this thing called life — as he surely will — he needs to know mom is not going to swoop down and rescue him or fix his problem.

When your teenage son circles back to you with his failures and troubles, you need to give him two very strong “mom” messages:
● You’ll always be there to listen.
● You believe he has what it takes to handle whatever challenge comes his way.

Moms have a sixth sense when it comes to the needs of their children. With ManQuest, most moms intuitively know their teenage son needs to connect with some positive masculine energy and direction. In fact, many women read the book first and then give it to their husband, grandpa, older brother, uncle, coach, teacher, or mentor to engage their teenage son in these crucial discussions.

Moms are an incredible wonder.  You do everything!  You are adaptable, flexible, selfless and you pour your hearts into families – filling in all of the gaps.  But please remember – it’s not your primary responsibility to bestow masculinity onto your son.  When he hits those teenage years, your role will naturally evolve.  Don’t fight it.  Be mindful of what’s happening and allow something fresh, promising and new to blossom in your relationship.


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