MOTHERS AND SONS
One day in my mid-40s I called my mother and very gently and compassionately said, “Mom, you’re fired! I don’t need you to be mothering me anymore.” In midlife, I had been a college teacher for 12 years and an itinerant lecturer and speaker for a dozen years. “What I need is to create a new adult-to-adult relationship with you, if it is at all possible.”
My mother was silent for a few moments. “I’m not sure what you mean.”
“I mean the time for you to be mothering me is over, and the time for me to be ‘sonning’ you is over. I have to stop ‘sonning’ – acting, talking, thinking, and behaving like a boy/son – and treat you with respect, and you have to talk and interact with me like an adult.”
A key to breaking the Mother-Son Dynamic is to stop being a “son” to anyone… “Sonning” is a term Dr. Joseph Cruse taught me to describe how men perform the role of a son without even realizing it; it’s a role that turns men into little boys. When men act like sons, their parents act in kind, and men get pissed off, frustrated, and end up feeling small. Perhaps more importantly, if men are till “sonning” with their parents, they’re sure to be doing the same with wives or lovers, leading to dysfunction that can rival that of their childhood.
A man’s letting his wife, girlfriend, or lover treat him and talk to him like he is a boy will have serious ramifications. If he is her boy and she is his mom, one of those ramifications could be, as I have often seen, that he takes on a mistress – sometimes it is a woman sometimes it is work, golf, making money, pornography – but he can’t make love to a mother.
–John Lee, Breaking the Mother-Son Dynamic