Keep the mother-son bond strong from toddler through adulthood with Mighty Mommy’s 4 tips.
Every parent/child relationship should be special and celebrated in a unique way, regardless of the sex of the child or how that child came into your family. As the mom of an adopted child who then went on to deliver 7 children, I have had the distinctive experience of nurturing 8 separate relationships from birth through the teenage years.
When my oldest son was born, I remember the countless comments from well-meaning bystanders that the mother/son bond was a very strong one, and that even when they grow into young men, they still love being mama’s little boy.
If only it were that easy! I definitely feel that my relationship with my 5 boys, now ages 10 - 18, is different than the one I have with my 3 girls, but that bond has undergone many transformations as the kids have grown. My relationship with my teenage sons is not the same one I had when they were spirited little boys who believed the world revolved around their mom. And although my older sons now have many other female influences in their lives, they still hold a very special place in their hearts and in their lives for me.>
Any parent-child bond doesn't just happen; it takes wisdom and intentional effort. Here are 4 tips I hope will encourage you in building a strong relationship between you and your son:
Tip # 1: Boys Communicate Differently Than Girls
When you’re raising boys, you will probably notice that they do a lot of their communicating through their actions rather than words. For instance, an overtired 7-year-old boy may not say “Mommy, I’m exhausted, can I go to bed early?” Instead, he may jump on the couch, race down the hallway, or grab a ball and start throwing it around, regardless of the beautiful vase on the table right next to him.
Or perhaps your 14-year-old son may be suffering from some type of emotional pain and will retreat to his bedroom and want to be alone rather than pull up a chair at the kitchen table and ask for your advice on his troubles. The same can apply to when he’s very excited about something as well. He may have made the final cut on the baseball team, but rather than come in to share his good news, he might prefer to head to the backyard with his ball and glove and just throw the ball around while he processes his achievement quietly, by himself.
If you’re in tune to the different types of non-verbal communication your son displays from when he is a young boy, you’ll be better able to recognize the moments when he has something on his mind and may want to talk.
Tip #2: Teach Your Boys to Communicate
Moms who are tuned into their sons’ non-verbal communication, and who teach them emotional intelligence are setting them up for success later in life, both in personal relationships and at work. From the days we urge our screaming 3-year-old to “use his words,” to not accepting our teenage son's grunts as a respectable response to a question, we instill crucial the communication skills to help them navigate adulthood.
See also: 6 Ways to Improve Family Communication
Healthy communication also includes teaching our kids to listen, not just talk. Get in the practice of modeling good listening when your son is a young ball of energy and can’t wait to show you his mud castle in the back yard. Get excited and connect at his level and listen to him tell you all about how he built it. This may only take 2 minutes, but through the years, those minutes turn into hours. Ask specific questions that will engage a two-way conversation. Young men who can both listen and articulate their emotions are far more attractive. How many times have you heard people complain that their male partner doesn’t pay attention? Teach your son to be the exception to this stereotype.
Tip #3: Teach Your Son to Respect Women
Mothers are the first and most constant expression of what a woman is to a boy. One of the greatest gifts you can give to your son is to teach him to respect women. And the best way to do that is by showing him that you respect yourself.
For example, expect to have the door opened for you when you’re around your son and your spouse. Teach him to address your female friends with respect and that foul language should not be used around young girls and women. Take time for yourself by sitting down to read a book, or a relax in a bubble bath so that you are modeling the importance of self-care and self-worth. If a man loves and respects his mother, then he will most likely treat the women in his life in that same way.
Tip #4: Enjoy Family Time
A simple way to connect with your son and your other children is sharing regular meals together. This is easy to do when they're little, but as kids get older, sports and other activities compete with the family mealtime. Nevertheless, regular dinnertime is one of the best ways to strengthen your family’s bond. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 of my series on the 10 ways to bolster your family’s connection for more ideas.
Another way to stay in your son’s life is to get to know your son’s school friends, and when possible, welcome his friends into your home so they can get to know you. I love having my sons’ friends over not only because I get to know who they’re hanging out with, but it makes my kids feel good about themselves knowing that I want them and their friends around.
Reinforce that commitment by planning regular outings that fit into your lifestyle. Go to the movies, grab a pizza and watch a football game, make pancakes together on Sunday mornings. Take advantage of any family time that you can manage. You’ll be teaching your son that spending time with him is important to you and before you know it, he’ll be grown and raising a family of his own.
How do you stay connected in your mother-son relationship? Let me know in Comments or post them on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. You can also connect with me on Twitter @MightyMommy or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I hope you and your son will grow and experience the important mother-son bond in your relationship for many years to come.
Until next time—Happy Parenting!