Kate Lombardi's (SHS '74) new book: The Mama's Boy Myth: Why Keeping Our Sons Close Makes Them Stronger"
THE MAMA’S BOY MYTH:
WHY KEEPING OUR SONS CLOSE MAKES THEM STRONGER
BY KATE STONE LOMBARDI (SHS '74)
Mothers are constantly warned off being too close to their sons, either by the broader culture or well-meaning family members: Don’t cuddle your crying three year old—he needs to learn to man up. Don’t approach your moody teenager—he’ll work it out himself. If your son answers your questions about what went on in school with “nothing”, well, boys will be boys. Fearing they will wreck his masculinity and independence, mothers often feel like they need to separate themselves from their sons, and lose them in a way they don’t experience with their daughters.
But mothers of sons are now pushing back, and changing the way they raise their sons. They are challenging conventional child rearing wisdom about the “right” way for mothers and sons to relate to each other. Far from smothering or controlling their sons, these mothers are finding that a healthy, close relationship with their sons offers both parties rich rewards without any dire consequences.
THE MAMA’S BOY MYTH: Why Keeping Our Sons Close Makes Them Stronger (Avery: March 15, 2012; hardcover; $26.00), by Kate Stone Lombardi, draws on interviews with mothers and sons, fathers and daughters, and reams of research, to explain the pressures mothers face to let go of their sons, how families really operate, and that a close mother-son relationship is actually something to strive for.
From Oedipus to Freud, from D.H. Lawrence to Jonathan Franzen, a centuries-long war has been waged against mother-son closeness, with mothers getting the lion’s share of the blame. THE MAMA’S BOY MYTH tells the story of how generation after generation of scientists, psychologists, cultural critics and writers have falsely warned that women who remained close to their sons after their early years (or even during infancy) had not only crossed inappropriate boundaries but also risked turning their sons into wimpy men unfit to navigate the adult world. But this type of outdated thinking is holding boys back, keeping them from opening up emotionally and getting in touch with their fully realized selves. Somehow, a “mama’s boy” is reviled and a “daddy’s girl” is revered, and award-winning author Lombardi addresses such irresponsible rhetoric head-on.
THE MAMA’S BOY MYTH is a groundbreaking narrative that proves that sons who are close to their mothers are emotionally and physically healthier than those who are not. What’s more, the very skills that today’s mothers are teaching their sons – how to recognize and express their feelings, giving them emotional intelligence – are exactly what boys need to succeed in the classroom, in romantic relationships, and ultimately, in the workplace, where empathy and communication skills are critical.
A new generation of young men is growing up to be close to their mothers and proud of it. THE MAMA’S BOY MYTH is essential reading for all families with boys, and may even turn the term “mama’s boy” into the high praise it should be.
THE MAMA’S BOY MYTH
Why Keeping Our Sons Close Makes Them Stronger
By Kate Stone Lombardi
Avery; March 15, 2012; ISBN 978-1-58333-457-7; $26.00
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Kate Stone Lombardi has been a contributor to the New York Times for the last 20 years. For seven years (2001—2008), she wrote a popular bi-weekly column, “County Lines” for the paper’s regional section in addition to articles that ran in the National, Metro, Style, and Education Life sections. Several columns—all of them about families—made the top twenty most-emailed list. Additionally, her work has appeared in Parenting Westchester, and Hudson Valley Life. Lombardi is the winner of six Clarion Awards for journalism from Women in Communications, as well as The Art of Communications Award from Victim Assistant Services. She received a BA from Williams College and an MS in Journalism from Columbia University. Lombardi has taught writing in a variety of venues, including the Hudson Valley Writers Center and the Coachman Family Center, which serves homeless children. She is the mother of two adult children and lives in Westchester County, New York, with her husband.