By Kathy P. Behan
There’s a lot about parenthood that is patently unfair. The fact that you can spend tons more time with your child, but junior prefers your spouse. Mothers incubate their infants for nine months, go through painful labor for hours, and the baby comes out looking exactly like dad. In order to create kind, considerate, thoughtful people parents often have to do battle with their progeny on a regular basis, trying to teach them to be nice. Even though it’s sooo much easier to say “yes,” you often have to say “no” to your kids and incur their wrath, because you don’t want to raise ax murderers.
A concept I have a hard time with is the double standard for males and females. There are behaviors that supposedly are fine for one sex but not the other. I’m sure you could rattle off a bunch too. Starting with that old chestnut, it’s perfectly acceptable for girls to cry but boys aren’t allowed to. Boys should be competitive; girls should be team players. Boys should be strong; girls sweet. Women should be successful, but not more so than their men. Being promiscuous is almost admired and encouraged in men, but condemned for women (obviously, it should be condemned for both). Unfortunately, the list goes on and on. Even though some of these beliefs have at least faded, for far too many these myths still abound.
There’s another example that particularly bugs me. Why is it that being a “Daddy’s girl” has a positive connotation, while being a “Momma’s boy” has a negative one? Being a Daddy’s girl simply means that a female admires and feels close to her father. This is a lovely, even enviable concept. I, myself, am a Daddy’s girl — as are all my sisters (though we also totally adored our mom). However, if a male is called a Momma’s boy, it’s said with derision. The inference is that a guy is overly attached to his mother. He is too dependent on her and can’t function without her. He’s viewed as weak and a wimp. How and why did this meaning evolve?
The implication is that real men shouldn’t be close to their mothers. To be a man, he should cut himself off from his mom. He should sever maternal ties and go it alone. Be a rugged individualist until he marries and creates his own family. But this makes absolutely no sense.
I know many successful, wonderful men who feel close to their mothers. They stay in regular contact and take pride in their relationships. Moms are often a child’s first teacher when it comes to emotional attachments. If they’re caring and loving, they’ll form a bond with their offspring that will never be broken. Every other relationship that a child has is an offshoot of that original attachment. A good mother teaches her children by word and deed all about unselfish, unconditional love. The kind of love that’s truly healing and nurturing. (Unfortunately, all bets are off if the child has a bad, selfish, or narcissistic mom. Hopefully, the other parent can fill the void.)
Luckily, I have a wonderful relationship with my children. We happily stay involved in each other’s lives, and I’m blessed to have a daughter who’s still nearby. I also feel very close to my sons, even though they both currently live far away. We talk often and try to see each other as much as money and busy schedules allow. I take pride in the fact that my smart, strong, independent sons are “Momma’s boys” — in the truest and best definition of the term. They’re my boys, and I’m crazy about them.