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


View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Tuesday, November 19


A radical reexamination of the mother-and-son relationship that advocates the end of the “mama’s boy” taboo.

Mothers get the message early and often—push your sons away. Don’t keep them emotionally bound to you. Back off, because boys need to learn to stand on their own. It is as if there were an existing playbook—based on gender role preconceptions dating back to Freud, Oedipus, and beyond—that prescribes the way mothers and their sons should interact.

Kate Stone Lombardi, an award-winning journalist who has written for the New York Times for more than twenty years, persuasively argues that much of the entrenched “wisdom” about mothers and sons is hopelessly outdated. Highlighting new research, The Mama’s Boy Myth reveals that boys who are close to their mothers are happier, more secure, and enjoy stronger connections with their friends and ultimately their spouses. With revealing interviews and moving case studies, Lombardi argues that the rise of the new male—one who is more emotionally intelligent and sensitive without being less “manly”—is directly attributable to women who reject the mama’s boy taboo.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781583335093
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/05/2013
Pages: 336
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Kate Stone Lombardi has contributed to The New York Times for the last twenty years. Her work has also appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Reader’s Digest, Parenting, and Ladies Home Journal. She has won six Clarion Awards for journalism from Women in Communications. A graduate of Williams College with an MS in journalism from Columbia University, Lombardi is the mother of two adult children and lives in Westchester County, New York, with her husband, Michael.

Table of Contents

7 Dat's Hear It

23511 8 Loo

27301 Acknowledgment

28701 Notes 29101


What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Kate Stone Lombardi is an exemplary journalist and in her book, The Mama’s Boy Myth, brilliantly dismantles our society's misguided fear that boys’ connections to their mothers can be too close, showing that such healthy mother-son connections lead to the creation of healthier, more empathic, successful men in our society—Real Boys & Real Men!"
—William Pollack, author of Real Boys

"An informative, hopeful book that delves into an important topic-how moms can help raise emotionally healthy sons. Mothers of sons, take note: Kate Stone Lombardi tells us that what we have instinctually known—that the stereotype of the stoic Marlboro Man emotionless young male is just that—a stereotype. It turns out, our wonderful sons relish connection and affection just as much as our fantastic daughters—and Lombardi tell us, those are relationships to celebrate."
—Peg Tyre, author of The Trouble with Boys

“A provocative debut…an insightful, timely study”
Kirkus Reviews 

The Mama’s Boy Myth takes on the idea that mothers who are close to their mothers make them weak or effeminate…in fact, Lombardi says, strong mother-son relationships have mainly positive effects.” 
The Wall Street Journal

 “Stop Worrying About Raising A Mama’s Boy…. It sounds like a myth of yesteryear, but Kate Stone Lombardi, frequent New York Times contributor and author of  The Mama’s Boy Myth, says the hangover from generations of gender preconceptions affects us all, and that in many families and communities, mothers still find themselves urged to push their sons away at exactly the moments (like starting school and becoming a teenager) when our boys need us most — and that even when we don’t, we find it hard to talk about how close we are to our sons.”
The New York Times

 “Will a close mother-son relationship create another Norman Bates? Far from it, says Kate Stone Lombardi, author of The Mama’s Boy Myth …From the myth of Oedipus to the movie Psycho, narrative after narrative harps on the idea that mothers can damage their sons, make them weak, awkward and dependent. But for millions of men, the opposite has turned out to be true.”  
—NPR "All Things Considered"

 “It’s a relief to know that the mother-son connection gives boys a good start in life.”
The Toronto Globe and Mail

 “Moms are expected to help their sons develop a healthy masculine identity, not by holding them close, but by pushing their sons away. Award winning journalist Lombardi’s provocative new book, The Mama’s Boy Myth, reveals surprising research that doesn’t just contradict this theory – it blows it out of the water. Far from damaging their sons, mothers who have a nurturing, close relationship with their male children are imparting innumerable benefits at every stage of development.”

“When she was raising her two children, Kate Stone Lombardi—a seasoned journalist for The New York Times—was taken aback by the assumptions of so many people around her, who said it was best to distance herself from her son to avoid him becoming a “mama’s boy.” But Lombardi’s parenting instincts went against all of the advice that she was hearing. Synthesizing years of research with hundreds of her own interviews with mothers, sons, fathers and experts, she presents a solid argument to those naysayers in her book, The Mama’s Boy Myth. Both the data and the personal anecdotes demonstrate that fostering a close mother-son relationship results in emotionally evolved, empathetic and successful men.”  
New York Press

Peg Tyre

“An informative, hopeful book that delves into an important topic—how moms can help raise emotionally healthy sons. Mothers of sons, take note: Kate Stone Lombardi tells us that what we have instinctively known—that the stereotype of the stoic, emotionless Marlboro Man young male is just that—a stereotype. As it turns out, our wonderful sons relish connection and affection just as much as our fantastic daughters do—and Lombardi tells us, those are relationships to celebrate.”

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

The Mama's Boy Myth: Why Keeping Our Sons Close Makes Them Stronger 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read. Very interesting and thought provoking. I would highly recommend.
N-Robinson More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. It offered a candid look at the difficulty that mothers face when raising sons. The statistics and research on parenting and families was compelling without being too much. The book is full of great facts (ie early psychologists blamed mothers for Schizophrenia and Autism). I would recommend the book to a friend (even if they were not parenting a son).
DanaJean on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The Mama's Boy Myth validated my role as a mother and my parenting skills while raising 2 sons. I never bought into the gender roles of the past--that strong, well-adjusted men can't possibly be close to their mothers. Those antiquated beliefs that a male child who has a a strong bond to their mother past the baby stage will have Oedipal feelings or become homosexual just aren't true. By keeping our sons close, we teach them to be better adjusted men and ultimately better partners to their future mates.I had to deal with a husband scowling at my closeness to my boys and the choices I made in raising them. I believe these men are not only insecure because they didn't have a close relationship with their own mothers, but they are jealous of their own children because of that relationship.Great book for anyone raising boys. Don't let society guilt you into raising boys in the traditional, old-thought ways.
Carolfoasia on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"What today's mothers are doing for their sons -- primarily teaching them emotional intelligence -- is a critically important gift. Mothers, by affording their sons the emotional closeness that they once offered only to daughters, are giving them access to a fuller experience of humanity" (p.9-10)My husband said a similar thing to me on our Spring Break vacation with our two boys, ages 17 and 20. I had been experiencing some loss as my youngest had followed his oldest into classes at the community college, leaving me without the job of homeschooling after 14 years at the helm. Those years brought me daily contact with my boys, doing history, science, literature, and read-alouds on our couch until their middle school years. These academic subjects were segues into deep talks about everything under the sun. In their high school years, their education was more self-directed, but I still interacted with them over papers and literature they were reading for the British, American, and Homeric literature classes I ran with other homeschoolers in our co-op. They were segues into the realm of values, principles, and feelings in this rhetoric stage of their education and development. In addition, our rides in the car to co-op activities, plays, field-trips, and community service projects were the "car talk" times Lombardi talks about in her book. Many times there were other kids in the car with us and not technically "one on one," but I had many "sons" those years of homeschooling and was a second mom to them. There has been a closeness with my kids because of homeschool, and I will never regret our decision to do so. Our discussions were not just about academic subjects but springboards into deep discussions about life, and we laughed together a TON. Weekday mornings were "our" time.Last fall, all the time together that homeschool afforded was gone, and I realized this loss on that Spring Break trip.I won't go into all the reasons, totally unrelated to my kids, why I was emotionally fragile on that trip, but the fragility caused me to express that loss to my boys. We didn't have the time "carved out" for us like before, and I missed it. With encouragement from my husband, I ran the idea of a weekly "talk time" with each of them, and they were all for it. Since Spring Break, I have spent time with both of them. On Mondays, the youngest and I walk to the local Wendy's, eat dinner (while dad has a meeting and oldest has class), and walk back. I let him set the agenda for what we talk about. The first time, he opened up to me about many deep things. I thought the time would be over when we were back home, but he stuck around, and we talked in our living room until dad and oldest got back, at which time we all talked together until late into the evening. My oldest is much quieter, and I find that walking is what gets him talking. So, we do the "hospital hill" two mile walk that takes us about 40 minutes, and I don't have an agenda, I just listen and let him run the topics. Since he is naturally quieter, I thought we might walk in silence if I didn't ask questions, but this hasn't been the case. I heard Lombardi's NPR April 8th interview on "All Things Considered" only eleven days after having this Spring Break ephiphany and a few "talk times" with my guys. Perfect timing!Lombardi's book confirmed what I had felt. It is funny that she should talk about Freud's Oedipus Complex because I reported on The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud's 1899 publication that put forth this theory, in my first counseling class in graduate school. I also read Oedipus when my oldest studied classical literature. So, I really tracked with her on the ridiculousness of Freud's theories that have been debunked with modern research. As I read, I thought about different books I had read throughout graduate school (I have an M.Ed. in student personal work with an emphasis in counseling psychology) when I researched male/female roles during my internship with the wome
rabidreader on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Lombardi's book is the first I've read that addresses this issue. When my children, who are now in their mid to late twenties, were young I read about every parenting book I could get my hands on, but I don't believe I even saw titles addressing this issue "back then". The Mama's Boy Myth startled me with the realization that I had bought into the cultural norms about the mother/son relationship. This book is so well researched (Lombardi is a journalist) that if I was a professor teaching Women's Issues or Gender Studies, I would use this as a textbook.
Pranamama5 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Kate Stone Lombardi advances the growing movement of awareness towards gender issues in America. The Mama's Boy Myth : Why Keeping Our Sons Close Makes Them Stronger, sheds light on traditional societal gender beliefs, why they are no longer viable, and empowers families to nurture future generations ( both male and female) to their full potential. Lombardi¿s writing is fresh while accessible to both lay and academically invested readers. I would like to see The Mama¿s Boy Myth on the syllabus of college courses and reading lists for childbirth and parenting classes.
quaintlittlehead on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In this short and readable work, Kate Stone Lombardi challenges the unspoken assumption that close bonds between mothers and sons damage the men those sons become. Drawing on a series of interviews and recent research studies, the author points out the disparity between the lack of taboo surrounding father-daughter relationships (even though these are statistically more likely to result in sexual abuse) and the frequency of assuming that homosexual or Oedipal issues exist in boys who are close to their mothers. She takes a feminist and sexually liberal perspective, commenting in particular on the difficulties of feminist mothers being in the position of raising their future oppressors and the opportunity to shape a new generation of men who are different from their predecessors, but despite a few comments that are critical of the role religion has played in the existing stereotypes, is primarily descriptive in her orientation to her topic rather than argumentative. I would thus still recommend this to discerning Christian readers, as we continue to grapple with the question of what role mothers and fathers play both in and out of the home. I was a bit alarmed, however, that Lombardi so frequently contrasts her son and daughter, or other mothers' sons and daughters, by making the assumption that mothers and daughters almost inevitably go through fights, while mother-son relationships are so much easier in this regard. This seemed incredibly un-feminist of the author and picked at a very personal wound that I have as a daughter with one brother: the feeling that mothers somehow like their sons better. In any event, this is an interesting cultural topic that is not often discussed, and this book opens the door for a lot of conversation on this issue.
N.Robinson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Author Kate Stone Lombardi knocks a hole in the theory that a tight mother-son bond is detrimental to the son¿s development in her book The Mama¿s Boy Myth: Why Keeping Our Sons Close Makes Them Stronger. Lombardi seamlessly blends interviews of mothers, sons, and experts to show that not only is a mother¿s relationship with her son not harmful, it benefits both mother and son, as well as society as a whole.The tales from everyday moms are as haunting as they are instructive. I will never forget Jean who handed a frozen waffle to her demanding eight-year old son with a lesson on the virtues of patience.This book offers a buffet of fascinating statistics without being overwhelming. The author does not back down from dissenting experts, but instead uses their own theories to expose their folly.The book contains a few spaced out examples of suspect parenting, such as Teresa Capone, mother to murderous gangster Al Capone, who insisted that her son was a good boy. I would have liked to see more examples of mothers getting it wrong, both for my own curiosity and to add a little balance.Overall, Mama¿s Boy Myth was a great read and I would definitely recommend it to a friend.The publisher provided a copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A very interesting read for all mothers of sons, but also for all mothers as well as anyone interested in women's rights. Very intriguing.