One Broken Mom

The Mama's Boy Myth: Unraveling the Big Lie with Kate Stone Lombardi

June 23, 2019 Season 2 Episode 7
One Broken Mom
The Mama's Boy Myth: Unraveling the Big Lie with Kate Stone Lombardi
Chapters
One Broken Mom
The Mama's Boy Myth: Unraveling the Big Lie with Kate Stone Lombardi
Jun 23, 2019 Season 2 Episode 7
Amee Quiriconi
Mother's are a sons first relationship and yet for generations, mom's have been driven away from forming close bonds to their boys. In this episode, hear why this must change.
Show Notes Transcript

Kate Stone Lombardi has been a journalist for more than 25 years. She was a frequent contributor to The New York Times, and for seven years wrote a popular regional column that focused on family issues. Her work has also appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Time, Ladies Home Journal, Parenting Magazine including a recent article published on GoodHousekeeping.com, which is where Ameé discovered her. Lombardi is the author of The Mama’s Boy Myth: Why Keeping Our Sons Close Makes Them Stronger, published by Avery, part of the Penguin Group (USA). And she also writes parenting advocacy articles on nexttribe.com and her recent article is called “How to Raise Sons Who Won’t Turn Out Like Harvey Weinstein” 

In this episode you'll hear:

Why Kate decided to write the book

What did her research into the topic revealed were the reasons why women are driven "away" from their sons and developing close emotional relationships with them.

Why women and sons seem to have a sense of shame about their close relationships with each other

The differences between a healthy relationship and an unhealthy, enmeshed mother-son relationship

Where this topic fits into the current #MeToo discussions and definitions of masculinity


Resources from this episode: 

Click here to Buy "The Mama's Boy Myth"  

Kate Stone Lombardi’s Website

Speaker 1:
0:12
You are listening to one broken month. It podcasts dedicated to raising awareness about mental health, parenting and self improvement on host [inaudible] pony one broken mom is not a family show. It is intended for adults only and may contain adult language. Sometimes the topics are serious but you can count on the episodes to be entertained. Also, one broken mom is not offering any psychiatric or medical diagnosis. We're just here giving away useful and important information so if you're ready to hear real talk my real people so that we can all get better together, then you're in the right place and welcome.
Speaker 2:
0:47
All right everybody. Welcome to today's episode of one broken mom. I am super stoked about having with me today Kate Stone Lombardi and she has been a journalist for more than 25 years and she's a frequent contributor to the New York Times and for seven years has written a popular regional column that focuses on family issues. Her work has also appeared in the Wall Street Journal Time Magazine, Ladies' Home Journal, Parenting magazine and other national publications and I actually discovered her myself. I'm very recently when an article and a topic that she has known for was circulated online through good housekeeping and um, because that's because she is the author of the Mama's boy, miss why keeping our son's clothes makes them stronger. And she's also still writing parenting and advocacy articles. One of the websites that I discovered that she writes for his next tribe.com and her recent article that she published is how to raise sons who won't turn out like Harvey Weinstein. So I'm really excited to have Kate on the show. So welcome Kate.
Speaker 3:
1:44
Thank you. I'm glad to be here.
Speaker 2:
1:46
Perfect. So I want to jump in now. The book, uh, the Mama's boy myth was actually written back in 2012 and so it predates a lot of the conversations that I've been having, you know, since I started doing one broken mom and his people that have listened to me. And as I've done other interviews, um, on the topic of men and men's mental health, I have been a strong proponent that the emotional connections and um, and getting our, our boys to turn into the kind of men that can have really strong emotional relationships with the women and men in their lives really does start with this caregiver primal relationship with mom. And so when I found you and found your book, I was just like, oh my gosh. Like I hear, I thought I was the one van guarding this. But you started to do this, you know, 12 years ago or not 12 years ago, back in 2012 and probably earlier than that. Um, so can you tell me why did you decide to write this particular book?
Speaker 3:
2:40
Um, yeah. So when I started out on this, nothing on the topic existed. You know, I had and still have a very close relationship with my son and many, many moms I knew, I know, you know, also had a close relationship with, with their sons. But there wasn't anything out there like not in books or movies or TV or studies that had anything positive to say about mothers and sons. Everything culture reflects, you know, was negative, like kind of stereotypical depictions of dominating moms and, and they're weak willed sons and none of it reflected like the reality of how much moms and sons really relate to each other or what a healthy mother son relationship looks like. And you know, for moms like me, it looks like we're watching a movie with the wrong soundtrack. Like this is just not my reality. And so, you know, I started to do some research and I was pretty surprised by how little this relationship, which is one of the most fundamental tender and important human connections had actually been studied. I mean, there was enough stuff on mothers and daughters fulfill, you know, an independent bookstore but just not true of mothers and sons. And, you know, we could get into like all the negative stuff that was out there, but I just wanted something that reflected, I want to look into my own reality and um, see it reflected out there.
Speaker 2:
4:08
Right. Yeah. Um, and when you think about the research work that's out there or the stories, right in the messages that we've gotten, if, um, you know, the two that come up, which you do address in the book, which is, you know, Freud and then also the Oedipus complex, right? So, you know, the most dominant, I mean, you go through high school humanities class in your English class and you read about Oedipus probably at some point in time. And so there is this strong anti message of, um, of mothering too much and being overbearing. Um, in many ways. What was some of the research, um, as you are going through and putting this book together that, um, that explains why women tend to be driven away from their sons and from developing these close emotional relationships with them?
Speaker 3:
4:57
Um, well I think, you know, you got to start with fried because he, you know, I can't even tell you when I told people the book I was working on how many people are like, well, are you familiar with the Oedipus complex? Like, um, yeah. Um, in fact, at one point I really wanted to call the book at a piss wreck. W R C k. W. O. R. E. C. K. S. But my publisher wisely, he vetoed that. Um, but I think that the, the Oedipus complex kind of gets to the root of the problem. MMM. I think that a lot of people, when you say Mama's boy, like, Oh, if you're too close to your son, he's going to be a mama's boy. What does that mean? He's going to be a worse, he's going to be weak. He's going to be depending on Mommy's never going to form a, um, you know, independent relationships.
Speaker 3:
5:46
And then the unsaid thing is, yes, the homophobia behind it. He's going to be gay now, which is where the Oedipus complex goes. If he doesn't develop properly, you know, homosexuality was result of that. Well, putting aside whether or not being gay as you know, a problem, I mean, it's, his theory was written in 1899. He was brilliant, man, talked a lot about the, you know, subconscious. He had incredible insights. The man was not writing a parenting guide for heaven. And research has shown over and over again, no matter how much you love your kid, you're really not going to reorient them sexually. But I think that that kind of mess, and it's one of the many myths really underlies so much of what's going on. And I think some of it is how we look at gender. Some of it is also, um, it's how we, how we value men and women in this society.
Speaker 3:
6:44
So women, you know, have historically been a lot less valued. So, you know, there's a real double standard in how we look at our sons and our daughters and, and not just what they can accomplish, but parental influence. Right? So I have a son and I have a daughter. And when my husband was really involved in my daughter's life, no one worried that he was masculinizing her or turning her into a guy. And that went for, you know, whether they were doing, I don't know, uh, you know, square dancing with the girl scouts. I'm miserable night and both of their nights and their lives. I digress. Or whether he was doing, you know, more traditional, you know, masculine things. You know, like we totally encouraged our daughter to, you know, stem studies, athletics, you know, ambition. Um, and no one worried about her becoming a guy, even though all those things were traditionally male, but you and no one worried about my son.
Speaker 3:
7:46
I mean my husband being close to my daughter, that was great. It was great for herself. Esteem and of course the father, the father, son relationship, very important. And I, you know, I think it is important and nobody worried about my, you know, my son spending time with his dad and, and you know, doing guy things. Um, but my influence on him was perceived somehow as a little dangerous and a little off. And I'm not talking about like teaching him how to embroider or some other stereotypical female skill. I mean like, just encouraging him to talk about his emotions, uh, how we felt, you know, if he was, you know, was silent and stolen to say, hey, what's going on? There was a backlash. Like, well, what are you trying to do to that guy? I remember I interviewed like one woman in Ohio and she said, it's like if I just try to get them to talk about his feelings, he's going to grow up to be a man who runs around begging for directions. You know, it's just this sort of, I felt like the feminism movement had kind of stopped short. Like we were recognizing our girls for their potential potential but not our boys for their potential. They weren't allowed to develop they're full soaps.
Speaker 2:
9:07
Yeah. Well, and I even still today, and I've said this a couple of times, you know, in other interviews and with other people and just even in casual conversations with other women, there is still this other myths that is that, you know, men and boys just lack the capacity to understand emotions and meaning that there's somehow born defective in that area are deficient in that area and that women have, you know, some hyper sensitive super brains, you know, when it comes to that. And you know, while there, there may be, maybe is a big word here, distinctions in brain development between males and females for whatever reasons. We also know that, um, neuropathways in neuro development is a muscle. It's a skill that's learned. And when you aren't, you know, training your muscles for certain activities or certain things there they are going to be deficient.
Speaker 2:
9:57
You know, have me go bench press 400 pounds and you'll watch me die under 400 pounds. Right. Um, so you know, sitting there and saying, um, that, you know, the boys can't do it, you know, is, is a bit like, you know, uh, disabling them and handicapping them from day one and not taking the time to teach them to and women even today. Um, and I, I've said this like even smart women, I look at it and go, you still seriously believe that that's the case. Like, I mean we, we have our boys and then we just assume that there's no point in spending time being emotionally connected.
Speaker 3:
10:28
You know, this is some of the most fun research I did is looking at, you know, the neurological development of, of a little boy. And there's a really a good deal of evidence showing that boys begin life more emotionally sensitive than girls. They start on more easily, they cry more than girls. Um, and then going, you know, to your point, there's also studies that show that when a parent is handling a newborn, if a baby girl is crying, parents tend to comfort them, you know, oh, you poor thing. What's matter? You know, jostle, you know, just like, you know, stroking them. And if a little infant boy is crying, they just fill him and say, you're okay. You're okay. So from the very beginning we start to socialize boys to negate their emotions and yeah. And then those neuro pathways start to, you know, take shape. And even there was another study that parents who look at newborns, they overwhelmingly perceive the boys to be more active and stronger. Them girls and it bears zero relationship to the infant size or strength or movement. There's all these things we project on them, you know, when they're just a couple of days old and it goes on and on.
Speaker 2:
11:43
Yeah. I remember when I also have a son and a daughter. My son was my first born and then my daughter came a couple of years later. And you know, I joke, um, that if I'd had my daughter first, I probably would have not had a second child in Italy. She's definitely my more stronger, stronger personality. But I remember, you know, way back when my son's going to be 17 next month. And I remember just being grateful for having a boy because I not, not even knowing that this is what I was dealing with in terms of my own parenting deficiencies. I was grateful for the fact that I found it was going to be easier with him. And, and from that level of, Oh my God, I'm not going to have to work as hard because I had a strange relationship with my own mother. My fear was that having this hyper emotional relationship with the female was not something I was suited to do.
Speaker 2:
12:34
Give me a boy and I don't, I'll play basketball with him all day. We'll talk about cars and we'll do all the unemotional, easy, easy stuff. And that was a, that was a, it was a prejudice I was taking into my own pregnancy and, um, and with them now I know that with my son, I was close to him. I didn't have any of these, like I'm not going to hug and cuddle him or you know, uh, be emotionally connected to him in any way and I'm grateful, you know, that it felt natural to me to, you know, love him and, and, and attend to his needs, you know, when he needed it. But going into it, you know, I had the same idea that we'll boys are easier than girls and it's because they kind of, you know, push him off and, you know, don't worry about them as much. They're, they'll survive it because they're wired, you know, to be tougher. Right. Emotionally. Yeah.
Speaker 3:
13:17
Right.
Speaker 2:
13:17
Yeah.
Speaker 3:
13:19
Researching, I came across called herself a, a gender disappointment counselor because there's someone for everyone. But, um, she told me that the overwhelming number of her clients, our moms whose sonograms revealed boys and they had a simple their daughters, they'd have this feature emotionally volatile relationship with. And I had a daughter and yeah, I mean, as you know, and my relationship with her was far more emotionally well a child than it was with my son. That's the assumption, you know, that you'll never be close to a boy. It's just, you know, completely false. And these moms were like, Oh God, it's a boy. I'm never going to be close to him. Where's my daughter? You know? And then, you know, over time they learned that they could have this emotional bonding with their boy. Maybe not that dramatic. It's really hard. I cannot, you know, interpolate from two children, one boy, one girl that girls are, you know, you have a much more fraught relationship. But I have to say that over time. Yeah, Tall Indra, I interviewed like I surveyed more than 1200 moms and interviewed more than a hundred. It seemed to be the pattern growing up, certainly. Okay. MMM. You know, I've got it listed for a time, much more fraught with their daughters, but it doesn't mean that you can't be emotionally close to your son.
Speaker 2:
14:39
Right.
Speaker 3:
14:40
Can I speak a little more on this because I, yeah, I think the other thing is people expect, bet you to be, you know, roll your eyes. When you talk about your teenage daughter, they expect you be close to your daughter. They expect you to have, you know, ups and downs with your daughter. There's a whole industry around mother and daughter. You know, mother, daughter Getaway is, uh, you know, we'll embroidered pillows. Say my daughter is my best friend, you know, nps in case she's listening. I adore my daughter. She knows this. But, um, so she's grown up now, but, um, you know, we've, we've had our times and we are very close now, but we had our times when she was a teenager, but there was just none of the expectation that I would have that with my son. In fact, you know, there's the whole, a daughter is a sentence of son Tilly takes a wife, daughter, his daughter for the rest of our life. There was always the expectation you're going to lose him. So don't even invest that much into the [inaudible].
Speaker 2:
15:43
Right, right. Another thing that I say quite often, I think that that's a, that's a sad thing even though we were talking about parenting pieces here is you and I touched on before the episode actually started, you know, one of the draws for one broken mom is that, you know, these aren't all parents listening and they're not all women listening. There's actually, I, you know, I'd probably get more emails from men that are listeners, adult men, some of them with kids, some of them without kids that identify with those messages. And, and you know, and this is one of those topics for the listeners that are out there that, um, we're talking about what we can do as a parent with our, with our sons. But if you listening feels some sort of disconnected, this might be pretty revealing again of what were the stories that you're, a mother was given about how she should have been parenting you and treated you.
Speaker 2:
16:33
Because you know, a lot of men and we know that they grow up. Um, and they are the largest demographic, sadly, representative and suicide and, uh, and you know, finding themselves at Midlife, lacking some of the emotional tools, you know, or resiliency to handle what's going on. And I, you know, to me, I believe that in order to save men's lives when their forties and fifties as mom, I need to be thinking about what my son needs for me today. And that's my approach and why I've been advocating for not dismissing this relationship between mothers and sons. Um, yeah,
Speaker 3:
17:08
I don't agree with anymore male listeners out there. I mean, it might help them understand a little bit that, you know, but for many generations, mom got this message that in order to raise a healthy son, you need to gently push him away. And if you don't, you're doing your seminar. And it was really, it was like prevailing wisdom for generations of mothers. I mean, my mother was warned about it. Her mother was warmed about it. You know, it probably goes back to Achilles. You remember where she, they keep the mom, like dip them into the protective water but held onto his heel. And so that was his vulnerable. We'll spot. Um, so your mom's get this message if you want your, they're not, you know, they're not trying to be cruel. They get this message that if you're, you want your son to grow up, to be well adjusted, you need to push them away emotionally and physically. And you know,
Speaker 2:
18:02
W
Speaker 3:
18:02
I got that message earliest, you know, five years old, I interviewed moms who, you know, we're told they're three year olds needed to man up.
Speaker 2:
18:09
Yeah. So
Speaker 3:
18:10
you know, many men, we grew up like this. And I also want to say that I know and no way want to downgrade the importance of fathers. Fathers are really important to their daughters and their sons, but many, many men weren't given the emotional tools they need to provide their own phones with emotional. And social intelligence, they didn't, they didn't have it because, not because they're not capable of it, but because they weren't socialized to have it. And that's why moms can be so important in this.
Speaker 2:
18:38
Yeah. Yeah. I'm glad you said that because I said that as well is that, you know, for those of us who feel like we're, we're able to draw men into our circle and help support them as they learn these skills. And there are many men, you know, again, the ones that you know, I hear from quite often are at a point in time in their life where they are, they've taken, uh, accountability for wanting to develop those skills in themselves better because, you know, recognizing that there's a lack, you know, in them and they want to be better humans, you know, and have better or no better relationships and stuff.
Speaker 3:
19:12
Pain of being a little boy in five or 10 or 15 even, and being made to feel something's wrong with you because you want and need your mother.
Speaker 2:
19:20
Oh my gosh. Yeah. And you just gave me goosebumps saying that because that is heartbreaking. That, that, that's, that not recognizing that that is exactly what these, these children that we see right now are feeling is a lack of connection and needing it. But having a parent being socialized into thinking that they don't need it and what we have, or we have these emotionally starved kids who end up acting out, you know, boys and girls and behaving misbehaving or being aggressive, you know, um, because really what they're looking for is they're looking to be, they're looking to be held and nurtured and given some security, you know, um, around them. So I have this, you know, one of the topics that I've talked about too is, um, is man colds, because I see the, I see the jokes around men who have man colds, right. And you know, by my theory on this was that, um, as boys were growing up as they've been pushed away regularly when they were actually physically sick, is usually when mom stepped in. Because, you know, most don't, moms don't, you know, walk away when the kid is actually sick and littering and that men have learned that in order to gain some sort of emotional connection that they have to actually be physically ill.
Speaker 3:
20:31
Yeah.
Speaker 2:
20:34
Yup. Absolutely.
Speaker 3:
20:35
Interesting. I bet that makes a lot of sense. Yeah. Really awful phenomenon of the man called.
Speaker 2:
20:42
Right, right. Yeah. And we still, and I still, you know, I don't, I don't use it as a joke in house anymore, but I've, I've seen adults, uh, parents with little kids and they're little boys and already joking about their kids, man. Cold, you know, and I'm just like, wow, I was, please don't go there. Yeah. Um, when you were doing the interviews with your subjects, when I was reading your book, I found it really interesting too that, um, because of the shame around women admitting that they had close relationships with their sons at a lot of them were concerned about their privacy because they were, they were worried about negative reactions. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Speaker 3:
21:17
You know what the most interesting thing to me with, I can't even tell you, the vast majority of Moms who I interviewed would say to me, well you need to understand I'm unusually close to my son. Like every mom felt that and when I was talking to interviewing boys and men they would say, well I had this really unusual relationship with my mom. Like we were very close and they all thought they were outliers when in fact what it indicated was they just never talked about it because there was a sort of shame, a shame about it. And I think that because the culture didn't reflect any help, any kind of healthy vision of mother's son closeness, people didn't want to talk about it. And I think for the guys they really, they didn't want to talk about how close they were to their mothers cause it was is socially unacceptable.
Speaker 3:
22:09
They were going to be Mama's boys, what's this dependent whatever. And the moms didn't want to be portrayed in that sort of stereotypical, overbearing mom who's controlling her kid's life. There's so little that shows in our culture, you know, the culture is important because it reflects back our reality or should there was so there's so little that shows normal closeness every like I can't, there's so many depictions of mother son relationships with, um, hello. Just to give you an example, when I was publicizing this book back in 2012, mmm. I was on Fox and friends forgive me, and they, they introduced the segment by playing a segment from the movie failure to launch Kathy Bates all about a man child. And when I went on NPR, they introduced it with psycho, a clip from psycho where Norman Bates is saying, well, you know, a man's mother is just best trend there.
Speaker 3:
23:13
It's, if you look even in contemporary literature, you know, Jonathan Franzen like the, or, you know, going back to, I don't know, Dh Lawrence, Somerset, Mon, every mother son relationship is this, um, smothering. The mom is a smother and controlling woman and the boy is, uh, is uh, oh wash. And so in that, in the culture, and by the way, they were even reality shows of, you know, are you a mama's boy? And there was one way it didn't make it, but it was like Italian American Mama's boys. So it had, you know, these big hulking men and gold chains in their mother's cooking for them. And picking out there was, you know, just so when you're surrounded by that and you're not surrounded by anything that shows Mondays and sense who are close and have healthy relationships where they love and respect each other and the mom, it's not dominating. She's caring. Also fostering her sons independence, but that, that is not, yeah, independence has mean ignoring your son's emotional needs. It means giving him the tools he needs so he can become an adult. And that means, you know, emotional intelligence and social intelligence. Okay. I think the shame comes from not having anything positive too. Identify with how outside. That's what I really wanted people to talk about this.
Speaker 2:
24:36
Yeah, no, I agree with that. And this kind of Lens into, you know, the, the other topics that I wanted to talk with you about as you were doing your research and putting the book together is that there, there are examples, I mean there are genuine examples of some unhealthy relationships. Um, and you've pointed out, you know, several of them and how they get, you know, um, kind of made as a, as a joke for society and for culture. Um, but you know, you can actually end up having some unhealthy bonding between mothers and sons. But I heard you say this, that we're talking though about emotional intelligence and differentiation and not just, um, being overly involved in their life and, uh, in every aspect of it. And then not allowing them that opportunity to individually rate because that is different. Cause I've seen, um, yeah, I've seen really loving women and I've witnessed this personally in my life who are thinking that they're doing the right thing by being involved in every aspect, but their, their ability to see that they're over involvement is actually robbing some individual, uh, localization from their son. Didn't actually make them a worse, but made him, mmm. Made him very narcissistic and it made him, you know, very opposite of what we would consider, you know, the was, um, and it was, and it's heartbreaking to see that. And so when you're talking about what this bond should look like, what is a healthy bond, can you walk us through like with the research and what your interviews and stuff revealed?
Speaker 3:
26:07
I'm so glad you said that because this is the kind of the opposite of what I'm talking about. Okay. I have the relationship between a mom and fun is not one where a mom is, you know, controlling or dominating are enmeshed with her kid, um, and refuses to let her son grow up. And that is not a healthy relationship. And that is not mothers, you know, that's not appropriate. Mother's son, closeness and ps, it's not just mothers. Sons. I have seen exactly what you described with daughters too. Um, you know, my daughter's, my best friend was, she tells me everything really. But you know, you're not. So boundaries are important in every, in every relationship and certainly in every parent child relationship. So what I'm, I'm talking about something completely different, which is, you know, when a mother is emotionally supportive of her son and recognizes like his individuality has sensitivity, his vulnerability along with his strengths, like, you know, sort of a synchronicity.
Speaker 3:
27:07
There were a mum's able to respond to what her son needs when he needs it. It's not that different than what a healthy mother donor relationship looks like, but I also want to talk about the research a little bit because it is important. Um, so among, among the things that I found it, research shows like that boys suffer really greatly if they don't form a close attachment to their moms when they're babies or if the attachment is ruptured. There was a big study involving [inaudible] 6,000 people, 6,000 kids, 12 and under. And they found that boys who were insecurely attached to their mothers acted more aggressive and hostile in cha later in childhood, like kicking and hitting and yelling and disobeying. Um, and another, another research project. This was like 265 mothers, some pairs from low income families in Pittsburgh. They had made a link between young boys who weren't securely bonded to their moms and delinquency late in life.
Speaker 3:
28:07
So a close early bond with a mom will definitely keep her son say for later in life. It's almost like an inoculation against Trump. And then school age boys really benefit. And I, again, we're talking about healthy relationships, not in Mesh relationships, but if it's a healthy one school age boys, there's been some really interesting recent work show, a connection between moms who are closer to their sons, I mean sensor closer to their moms and better mental health. Um, and actually, you know, I mentioned at the beginning that there wasn't much research on mothers and sons. This came out of a, a study on masculinity. Um, there's a psychologist, Dr Carlos Santos, who's done really good work on this and he studied a group of 400 middle school boys from public schools in New York City and he followed them from sixth to eighth grade. And he started out to study masculinity.
Speaker 3:
29:04
But what he found was that boys who were close to their moms had less rigid definitions of what it meant to be a man. So these middle schoolers didn't always believe that to be a man, you had to be tough and Stoic, always fight back when challenged or go it alone. Um, these boys had a little more expand who were close to their moms, had a little more expanded view of masculinity. They were more emotionally open and their mental health was better. They had lower levels of anxiety and depression. Then they're kind of more traditional macho peers. Um, they had stronger friendships. Um, and he was just starting to show Olympus. Yeah. Those boys and their academic performance, the same boys are starting to get better grades. So, um, you know, to me that this isn't, we're doing something to help our boys by staying close to them rather than hurt them.
Speaker 3:
29:58
Yeah. Very early, very early research that was done on this. Um, a psychologist named Julie, she coined the term connection deficit disorder. CDD for the trouble boys were having in school. Um, no self control issues, academic performance. There's, you know, boys do struggle a lot and it interests me so much that everyone looks at male role models or changing the school or you know, more boyfriend like curriculums and not at the mother's son piece because this is a complicated issue. And moms who give their son's emotional intelligence, they need those kids do better in school. I know I'm rambling all over, but I feel that this is so important at so many different agents. And just to babble on for one more thing, even teenagers really benefit from close relationships with their moms. And this is the point at which you really as a mom get the pressure to back off.
Speaker 3:
30:58
Yeah. MMM. When my kid was a teenager, young teenager, there was this best selling well, um, by a guy named Anthony Wilson. I think it was something like, um, get out of my life. But first can you take Cheryl and me to the mall or something like that. Obviously referring to a daughter in the book, he writes strong emotional contact with his mother is especially upsetting to a teenage boy. You know, like, okay, so are you supposed to have weak emotional contact? You think, you know, adolescent boys really tend to shut down and you really get the message up, leave him alone. Don't bother him, you know, let them be, there's research that shows that moms are actually the most influential parents when it comes to boys decision making on high risk behaviors, drugs, alcohol on protected sex. And dads tend to have like one big, like the sex talk or the drug talk, but mothers tend to weave their messages into daily life on a more continual but kind of low key basis. Um, and they, and that way they're a little bit more, those boys get that message in different ways. So from the infant not being jogged and told, hint jostled and being told that nothing's wrong. Two, you know, the young adults if done right, you know, respect, respecting your kids independence. Well, there's some closed questions is really important for their wellbeing.
Speaker 2:
32:25
Yeah. Yeah. And I 100%. She said, I'm with that, you know, one of the things that I had noticed because you had talked about the CDD to connection deficit disorder. Um, you know, I've seen in a lot of um, men today, you know, adult men who were diagnosed with add or ADHD when they were younger. And you know, interestingly enough, when you have conversations with them, you actually do begin to hear stories of anxiousness around the relationship with their mom. And you know, one of the things that I was noticing, you know, first of all, we know that because one of my guests that I talked to you quite a bit is my friend who's a psychologist that deals in a therapist that works exclusively with teenagers and the, the adolescent brain development, you know, the kids themselves between 12 and 25 are already going through this very, uh, vivid and um, exciting and also super confusing period of neurological development.
Speaker 2:
33:16
You know, they're going from being emotionally driven to starting to bring that prefrontal Cortex, the front of the brain where all the adult of air quote, adult decisions are being made. And, um, and it's hard to flip flop back and forth and watch those connections. And I was noticing, my son was saying he was having some concentration and some focus issues and um, what I was beginning to learn for him. Again, this isn't just, this doesn't apply to everybody, but for us it did work was that telling him what to do all the time was giving him these periods of indecision because it was sometimes being told what to do, conflicted with what he wanted to do in a choice he wanted to make. So I shifted the way I did this of you get to make your decision and then let's just see what the consequences of that decision are and then letting them do it. And what happened was, is that his decision making processes really started to click together much more easily because he was able to trial and error, trial and error and learn. And eventually he came to the conclusion I wanted him to do it, but a letting him get to that place was far more beneficial to him than it was just trying to dictate to him, you know, what it is that he should do and how to do it.
Speaker 3:
34:20
Uh Huh. That's the hardest thing to do. And letting your kids, uh, you know, make their mistakes and watching it, but you know, if he's for rose petals, rose petals in front of their path and don't let them do it, they won't ever learn. And I do think we have a generation of, of, um, pretty dysfunctional people who had been raised this way.
Speaker 2:
34:41
Right. Right. And so how I balanced that, me personally, was not, not punishing him for the mistake if there was a mistake, but just saying, wow, okay, so let's talk about that. Providing that again, that emotional nurturing through it, you know, of saying, okay, well, so that didn't turn out the way it is, man. If you look really disappointed, like that's a bummer, you know, and giving feelings to that and then helping him, you know, provide that. So I guess, you know, giving them the opportunity to fail without fear, you know, providing that security of I can fail and I know that, you know, mom's there, you know, mom is there to let me mess up. It doesn't override, you know, any kind of, you know, my boundaries are like everybody's boundaries, kindness, don't be a crook, you know, you know, I'm nice to people.
Speaker 2:
35:26
Those are, those are pretty much strong things. And the other thing that I started to do was I started to hug him because I wasn't doing that as often. And I know I've got a son who walks up to me without me. Hmm. Getting him, you know, to give him a hug and it unprovoked gives me hugs and tells me he loves me. And that was, that took a change of me showing it to him on a regular basis. And me actually having these conversations like, hey, you know, when you grow up and you have these relationships with people, I recognize that your relationship with me is really going to be pretty important in there. And so, um, I want us to, you know, acknowledge that. And I don't want you to feel like, um, you know, that we can't, we can establish this because I have a period of time for anybody that knows my story, where I wasn't there full time with my kids. I was a weekend parent, you know, every other weekend with them. And so I'm working from a place of trying to make up for about seven years, know not that happened. And that made it to me. I think that actually, I, I've seen those shifts in our relationship, you know, as a teenager of changing to where, um, it's growing and it's a slow process, but it definitely was like, okay, wow, these, these little things can make a huge difference, you know?
Speaker 3:
36:34
Hmm. Yeah. And you know, the hugging is really important teenage boys because that's when things get tricky. And when everybody who may have put out a post in there, um, you know, kind of the back of their mind comes up again because eventually your son becomes this big guy who's bigger than you and his shoulders are broad and you start, you know, he's a big man or well mindless eventually, but he was a slow grower. But, and then you start thinking, well, should I be hugging him? I mean, as it's going to come off as sexual, you know, blah, blah, blah. And you know, guys, first of all, you know, they're physically big before they're emotionally fully developed, when most physically withdraw. And again, let me be clear, I'm not talking about inappropriate stuff of cuddling your son in bed or that stuff, but hugging, keeping physical contact is important.
Speaker 3:
37:23
These guys, you know, they're also teenage boys. They've got Zits, they start to stink, you know, they're not like, they're not perfect at that point. And when a mom withdraws, it's like, oh my God, even my, even my mom doesn't want to be near me. So I think that, you know, physical contact, again, appropriate. Um, it's really important to a boy to know that, as you were saying, mom is still here. When I mess up, when I stink, you know, when I'm, you know, just cranky. It's not that you approve great behavior, you just sort of a constant emotional and the ever so often a nice touch.
Speaker 2:
38:04
Yeah. Well, and I think that that also helps normalize, you know, what we, we know that that contact is, especially between the romantic partners, you know, is it is a safety place. You know, a hug brings down our heart rate when we're stressed out. You know, it, there's a, there are great reasons for that. And so for me, doing it was, one of them was that I was recognizing that my son was having difficulties in school and he was feeling more anxious and that hug was just me helping, you know, center him, you know, in a way that we didn't, he didn't know what was going on. Right. Uh, because he's not aware of the unit as Vegas. Nervous, calming down in his breathing is getting there. But I knew that that was one way I could also help quell some of the anxiety, you know, that he was,
Speaker 3:
38:49
yeah, it's much more than at that point and say, well, what about this? What about that? Like just, okay, I'm here.
Speaker 2:
38:56
Yeah, yeah, totally.
Speaker 3:
38:59
You know, also of course we are our sons first female role models and it's going to have a huge influence on their relationships later. Uh, how, you know, going back to the Harvey Weinstein thing too, how do you treat women? How are you physically with women? How do you respect women? All of that, you know, mom is your first example of it. So it's important.
Speaker 2:
39:22
Right? And I'm glad you did that because that was the next thing that I wanted for us to talk about was, you know, you wrote the book in 2012 and then as you and I, when we originally started talking to each other and setting up this interview in this, in this conversation, um, you know, you'd sit there and went, ah, the me too movement. Like this is so relevant. Um, you know, and there's so many things in here. So, um, where do you, like if you could do this again and introduce this topic in the wake of me too, you know, and teaching some, uh, or, or understanding what were some of the precursors to that. And that's why I love the fact that you wrote about Harvey Weinstein cause he is the guy that kind of re kicked it off for us.
Speaker 3:
39:59
My Dad. Well honestly, selfishly I'm just kicking myself like why didn't I do this book now? I could've written this movement through like unbelievable. But Kate, we got it. We're doing it right now. Okay. Thank you Amy. I really appreciate it. I, you know, I think this is part and par. I think what we're seeing a lot of, and you know, some of the, a lot of these people are older men. I mean I'm Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Matt Lore, you know, those men are of a different generation. Brent, Kevin on not so much, and I'm just talking about high profile accusations right now. And they honestly, I mean, to me it just shows this complete lack of respect of women and, and a lack of seeing a woman has the human, another human beings. And I, I couldn't, you know, the piece that you saw that I wrote for next tribe, I couldn't take my eyes off of, of Cavanaugh's mom, Martha Cavenaugh during that hearing of what, what was this like for her to experience her son being accused of this way?
Speaker 3:
41:05
I, you know, I could relate to that, to Christine, um, lousy Ford who was making the accusations, but I was also thinking about the mother who raised this, this man, now, you know, it's a he said, she said, but, um, yes. Okay. I mean, especially when your boys become adolescents, but I think even before that moms should be having these conversations with boys. Like I drove my son around them during commercials, during football game, you know, because I would, I would shout out the sexism on this stuff and I would say like, you know, what do you think of that? And I got a lot of eye rolling and you know, I'm watching the game and fair enough. But we did discuss a lot of this, you know, a lot of this culture and what it says about women. And I think that my son saw me growing up, working, balancing family with work. Um, also mattered. [inaudible] you know, these guys, they're all going to work with women. Our sons are all going to work with women and there, you know, they need to understand respect, boundaries, humanity. Hi. Honest to God, I don't really know what went wrong with some of these men except that they bought into this really toxic culture of, you know, Bros before hoes and, and, um, you know, the video game violence and it's tough out there and it is tough to be a guy, but it's not a technique to be a woman either.
Speaker 2:
42:33
Yeah, no kidding. Well, I know, uh, you know, there was a book that I was also reading called, uh, it was written in the 90s and it's by a psychologist therapist that's actually based out of the UK. And the book is called why men hate women. Uh, and the reason why I was intrigued by it because having dealt with, you know, really high extreme levels of misogyny and my own life and being victimized by that, by you know, romantic partners and business partners as well. You know, I, you know, my own self reflection of why was I involved with these people to begin with. That's a whole nother topic. In fact, a tackled it many times on my show. But the intriguing element for me was, is, um, how do these men become the minute they are? Because I am the mother of, you know, have a son and not wanting, you know, my son to know, not wanting to be sitting in a hearing, you know, behind, you know, as he's being accused of something, you know, how do I keep that from happening?
Speaker 2:
43:21
That is my responsibility. And you know, one of the things that he would bring up because his specialty was treating men that were abusers. And, um, and when you look in history at some of the worst behaving men, you invariably see actually I very poor quality relationship with their mother, um, either overtly being abused by their own mom being overtly neglected or abandoned. Um, but then even in my own life, seeing that it really didn't, um, you could even be present in your son's life, as we talked about earlier about this investment in this, um, in these unhealthy relationships. But at the end of the day, emotionally vacating our sons lives. It is, and I, I kind of think, again, I throw this other theory out there, um, and it's based on everything that I've read and the people that I've talked to. But I think ultimately when, when men end up behaving poorly towards women, it's because at that deep level, they feel like they've been abandoned by their mother. And maybe she can. And it's, and it's a little bit of, again, the way Adam called it, why men hate women, that misogyny is rooted in a little bit of, I'm still kind of pissed off and a little upset that when I needed my mom, she wasn't there and I rolled out,
Speaker 2:
44:32
she pushed me away. And they don't think about it overtly. They just think about that. And I have some of this as a woman, and I've said this before too, that this isn't just a man thing. We just experienced it differently because of our socialization in our parenting that were given. But I've had to deal with this deep seated anger, you know, in myself towards, you know, how I was parented and mothered and women express that by being mean girls, you know, and being tired. Right. Um, so, you know, if you know women, we don't call it
Speaker 3:
45:03
so catty.
Speaker 2:
45:03
Well I think honestly, I think they're the same thing. It's just that the way we express it out in, you know, our behavior externally is done differently. But you know, women are capable of having misogynistic views towards other women. Um, and it comes back to again, did you, you know, do you have the Sanger? Cause I know for me, I had a hard time for a very long time forming female friendships because they were too emotionally, you know, it's like, ah, I don't even want to deal with that. I'm so tired of dealing with tiptoeing around the emotions that I preferred. I was the tomboy. I preferred actually having a circle of male friends because it was a little less volatile, you know, for me. And of course I've grown out of that. Um, but you know, I went into the field of construction. I totally felt good there being one of a few women in a field of men because I could relate to the guys better than I could relate to the, to the women. And I didn't, I, you know, I wasn't a mean girl, but I would. Very cool. Yeah. I, I, I've, like I said, I feel really great now that I actually, uh, you know, uh, my day job is, I actually work as a, um, in a nursing agency. I'm surrounded by more women I've ever been in my whole life. And I love it. But it took some emotional growth to there.
Speaker 3:
46:10
Yeah, that's true. Yeah. Well, I have to tell you what I'm doing now. I'm teaching a memoir class in a maximum security men's prison and I have them write about their moms and it has been so eye opening, the abandonment, abandonment and lost m love, but more like longing and of course fury. MMM. Has rethought if I was going to rewrite the book. Now not only would I throw in Harvey Weinstein, but I would talk a little bit about what I've learned from these men who for a variety of reasons, did not have their mom's very early on. And then, um, how damaging that was. That's not the only reason they're incarcerated. It certainly plays a part. And one of the hardest exercises I had them do was to write a story, write up a memo, like a scene at first from their point of view, and then try to write it as a woman in their life. I try to write it as their mother or their sister or their girlfriends. And they looked at me like, oh, come on. I'm like, no guys, we're doing this. But I dunno, it's a little off base. But I, I agree with what you're saying about those early foundations and now I've seen it in a, in a really extreme form and it's been really illuminating to me. Little boys or little boys, they're very, they, they need love and tenderness just like little girls do. And when it doesn't come, there's Co, you know, pretty bad consequences.
Speaker 2:
47:37
Yeah, there definitely is. Like I said, I go back to one of the worst consequences isn't so much to me the crimes they commit against other people, but as the crime that many men commit against themselves when they take their own life, you know, and I think that that's, uh, that's incredibly sad. Um, so you have a son and he's much older and it's been seven years since you wrote the book. So, um, okay. How have you felt you've been validated and vindicated in your opinion, is of what your son has demonstrated for you?
Speaker 3:
48:11
Um, well, first of all, you know, he's no angel, so he's threatening to write a sequel because Paul and that's the man in the legend. Yeah. 30 now. And he got married a year and a half ago. He's a teacher know, it's a sort of a nurturing, um, profession. And um, he, he's taught elementary school. He's taught middle school. Um, he's taught in some pretty rough districts and um, it gives me great pleasure to watch him. Not sure. Young boys who, you know, who struggle academically and emotionally. I'm, his wife is a diehard feminist who takes no grief off of him, which I appreciate, but you know, yeah. [inaudible] he's, he's very happily married and I love, you know, I love my daughter in law, which is great. Do we have the same relationship we did when he was a little boy? No. Than I think it would be a little peculiar if we did, but we're still really close and like fundamental ways.
Speaker 3:
49:16
My son loves to cook. He gets that from me. So we text each other, you know, pictures of, of what we call or, you know, I'll get a text from him. I've got, you know, I've got some Broccoli, I've got some pasta thinking of throwing in the end of the day. We talk about food a lot. But we also, you know, talk to us. Like I don't talk to him about his marriage because that's really his personal business. He doesn't bring it up. But if he's looking at a job change or he's like very much really supportive of me, mom, you know, what's going on. I have a 95 year old brother, what's going on with grandma, you know, blah, blah blah. It's like different kind of closeness. I miss him because he doesn't live near me. But, um, he's grown up to be very stable and independent and relating relating to women and, um, I'm close to my daughter too, you know, she, um, we, we relayed on, you know, on different things.
Speaker 3:
50:10
So it's kind of an interesting thing. I'm, I'm not surprised he married a much more feminist woman. MMM. But okay. You know, he somehow or other, his masculinity was not damaged. And you know, I wrote, I think I wrote this in the book, I can't remember, but when at the time I remember feeling like I kind of had to like just say, okay, you know, establish his mail bona fides. Like, yes, I'm really close to my son and he's sensitive and warm and kind. But Oh, he's 61 he plays ice hockey. He has a girlfriend. You know, I still was caught up in that kind of, you know, let me tell you, he's like a guy and it's looking back, it's sort of ridiculous. Like, why did I, well, why did I feel I needed to do that? And you know, here I am. Yeah, he's really got a good relationship with his wife. He got a good job, you know, he's, he's good. You know, like, oh guess what? My daughter also has an amazing job and a steady relationship. Like it's all good. Hey, it's just funny how that I have to justify that being close to my son didn't damage him. It should be, we should be having the opposite. Yeah. Conversation, but such as our culture.
Speaker 2:
51:22
Right. Right. And how hard it is, you know, in our own conversations to change it. But you're aware of it, you know, that you're seeing that we're still driven by that. I am grateful. I do believe that we are at, um, I've said this before, I think we are at a word, a watershed moment in terms of really understanding, especially, um, what our childhood experiences and how they have truly shaped us as adults today. That there is a more open minded, a view of being able to look at relationships differently and also starting to drive some really strong awareness into emotional development. And, and so I think that we are at a point where I think your book might've felt like in 2012 it was before its time, but I think they're, you know, coming back to it right now is the right time. Like, um, I think for everybody.
Speaker 2:
52:10
So for my listeners that are out there, I mean like get the book, like everything that you've talked about in this book is exactly what, um, what people are starting to say. Yeah. Actually, I probably do need to shift my thinking. And like I said, you know, when I, when I speak with men that are my age, you know, that reach out and stuff, a lot of the things that I see them struggling with is can you hit, can be traced back to this. Um, you know, the lack of the emotional modeling from their very first relationship. And I know that's weird and you said that, right? But our mother is our first relationship and um, and you know, I had a neuroscientist on or a neuropsychologist on a couple of weeks ago and she talks about it like, don't worry about our brain. Our brain will protect us.
Speaker 2:
52:51
Like our brain isn't going to accidentally send the same hormone signals to our bodies that's going to make us sexually attracted to our children like that, that default is in there. So don't worry about that. Um, so having a close relationship doesn't mean suddenly you're going to be flooded with all the romantic chemicals and therefore you should be afraid of that. It's not going to happen. Our brains are designed, you know, to understand the difference between our kids and, you know, the romantic partners. So that's, that's cool. So, you know, don't hold back, you know, in terms of having that emotional support. Um, because it is, I mean, it's lifesaving. I mean, it's genuinely lifesaving across the board. Yeah. Yeah.
Speaker 3:
53:29
And just don't forget, you know, to me, there's men struggle a lot with a lot of different things and it's, so many of the solutions are, you know, boys need men role models that have that, oh, that's important. Don't forget the part of the mom, a mom nurturing a son. Such a crucial part of, of guys emotional health and wellbeing from beginning to, um, you know, until they're full adults and in my opinion, and then some.
Speaker 2:
53:56
Yup. Yup. I agree. Well, Kate, I appreciate you so much, um, for number one, giving me the opportunity to be able to talk with you. Um, like I said, now I don't feel like such a lone wolfs myself on this topic. And so instead of me feeling, you know, I feel like I'm following in your footsteps, so I'm grateful that you've laid down a pass there. And um, for anybody else at, again, the book is called the Mama's boy, Ms. Why keeping our son's clothes makes them stronger. I'll have a link in the podcast notes, so if you want to click it, you can go buy it. And, um, and if, uh, if follow Kate Stone Lombardi on were some good places to read your articles, like I pointed out the next tribe.com are you contributing anywhere else?
Speaker 3:
54:35
Um, I, you know, I'm all over the place, but if you at, my website's going to be finished in about Oh, a week. So pretty soon please check Kate's down, lombardi.com
Speaker 2:
54:47
okay. Also comment coming. I'm revising it. Oh, very, very good. And I appreciate you for being a parenting advocate and standing strong on this point and so many. Thank you so much for this opportunity. I've really enjoyed chatting.
Speaker 1:
55:00
Awesome. Cool. Thank you for listening to one broken mom. You can find podcasts notes on my website, [inaudible] dot com and they're all provide all links to all of the resources that we mentioned on the episode. Also, if you have any questions, comments, or ideas for other episodes, feel free to send me an email. And if you are interested in sponsoring the show, I'd love to have you be a part of the team. Finally, if you like what you hear, please share the podcast and leave a review so that others can find that you're all here to get better together. I am the host of me for a pony and as always, I am super grateful to have you as a listener and till next time, have a great day.